Two words I heard in my first year at the University of Leicester, when my friends and I were joking about not being able to get a job. ‘I’ve heard people just do a ‘panic masters’!’ I remember laughing, and clearly saying how that wouldn’t be me. I had a plan: get my degree, gain some work experience in the publishing industry, and then begin to apply for jobs.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected all students but especially those who graduated in 2020 and are graduating in 2021. The job market crash meant that last year, employment was difficult to find, and this year, an already saturated field has doubled. Many of my friends have applied for numerous graduation schemes with no luck and are being forced into a master’s degree just to have something to do during the next year.
Please don’t misunderstand me: I am aware that many people choose to do an MA anyway. The statistics from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) published numbers in January of 2020 stating that 200,915 Masters Courses were taught in 2018/2019. Do I think these numbers will have risen, potentially by a lot? Yes. It’s a comfortable option to extend your studies to have a purpose for the next year.
A statistical survey in May 2020 stated that 78.5% of students were worried about fewer job vacancies in their industry. Something I’ve previously been concerned about in the publishing field as entry is extremely competitive.
Opportunities can be gained through placements and internships, just how though are you meant to do this in a global pandemic? I applied for multiple internships at the beginning of 2020 for the following summer, most of which were cancelled; with that door closed, I couldn’t gain an edge to advance. Should I give up on my dream? Or should I push it further away by a year, making it perhaps achievable?
After many sleepless nights, and even more doomscrolling sessions, I happened to come across a Master’s Degree in Publishing at Manchester Metropolitan University. I was reluctant to spend another £9250 at university when I could be earning a living, but it just seemed like there were only two options: do a master’s degree in this field or give up on my dream and get any job I could find.
Panic masters it was.
Do I have doubts about whether it’s worth it? Yes! All the time. Do I have doubts that finding a job in the industry will be easier in another year? Completely! I think we will all be feeling the effects of the pandemic for a long time. For me though, it’s an option that’s enabled me to postpone the dreaded pandemic job market while I further progress and develop my skills and keep my hopes and dreams alive until normality resumes.
Currently, I am still waiting to hear back from the university. Not only has the pandemic affected students, but the bureaucracy of universities has definitely diminished too.
Have I chosen this path, only to be given more anxiety and confusion? I’m hoping this isn’t the case. One thing is for sure: I can’t wait for this pandemic to be over, and a new door to open.