Postgraduate Opportunities -

The benefits of doing a postgraduate course and what students can expect. Should I pursue postgraduate studies?

Postgraduate opportunities

29 Mar 2023

According to Mary Quirke, PhD candidate and founder of Career Confidence, people choose postgraduate education for numerous reasons.

A postgraduate qualification can be used to professionalise in a certain area, for example, teaching or areas of business. It can be used to change direction, for example, a conversion course. It can be used to access a career area that was inaccessible previously, such as medicine or physiotherapy. It can be used as part of a lifestyle change – if you wish to change ‘how’ you work. It can be in response to a life event like redundancy, illness or relocation, and it can be used to explore new options and learning. A postgraduate course furthers your knowledge in the subject area you already have experience in. It can also introduce you to a new network of people by way of classmates and lecturers, new opportunities by way of work, and new ways of thinking about how you work by gaining new skills. This is attractive for any employer.

New direction Mary previously worked as a nurse and midwife, having trained and worked in Cork for the first decade of her working life. For a number of reasons, she decided to engage in postgraduate training herself, to qualify as a guidance counsellor. 

I did a postgraduate course in UCC to change career direction and open up a whole new world of work. And I have never looked back! I enjoyed nursing, but as work was difficult to come by at the time and I had also sustained a back injury, I needed to change.

Mary started her career guidance business, Career Confidence over 15 years ago. 

At the time, I was working as an assistant director for a non-Governmental organisation (NGO) and had been approached to do some private guidance work. I decided to put a structure on it and developed Career Confidence. I love to work with people as they explore options and find something they enjoy – something that excites them.

Over the years, many of Mary’s clients shared the challenges and worries they experienced when making career decisions. And this is what prompted her to do another postgraduate course, this time, a doctorate (PhD). Mary’s PhD is focused on Career Guidance, Inclusion and Universal Design for Learning.

I have continued to engage and learn, and am currently in the final stages of my PhD at the School of Education in Trinity College Dublin with Professor Conor Mc Guckin. Another postgraduate course! The world of learning and work is changing and has changed so much over the years. The challenges continue and we now make career decisions on many occasions across our learning and working lives. It’s not just as we leave school! Education is continuous and there are so many postgraduate opportunities worth considering. I never looked back from doing a postgraduate course.