Your career: new direction

Are you looking for a new challenge and a change of career? Do you have an interest or passion that could open doors to a different pathway?

A master’s can provide you with the skills, knowledge and connections to change track. It can be the springboard to fresh opportunities and greater job satisfaction.

New career, new opportunities

Niovi Alexandridou swapped her job in sales with a shipping company for a master’s at Oxford Brookes and the opportunity to develop a new career - in hotel and tourism management. In September Niovi will be joining the London-based hotel group Firmdale Hotels on their graduate training programme.

Taking the step

Niovi says she always intended to do a master’s following her original degree in accounting and finance back home in Greece.

“The master’s explores many different aspects of the industry and has strong links with employers”

Niovi Alexandridou

After her first degree, it was the customer service element in her position in sales that she particularly enjoyed. “I also wanted to work in a job area that I could take anywhere in the world, including Greece. And given that the tourism industry is at the heart of the Greek economy, hotel and tourism management was definitely the best option.”

Her decision to study for the MSc in International Tourism and Hospitality Management was based on the course’s high rankings, “and because the master’s explored many different aspects of the industry as well as having strong links with employers.”

Photo of Niovi Alexandridou

Industry mentors and links

Brookes runs mentoring schemes in different subject areas, matching each student with a senior figure from industry who provides careers guidance.

As part of the Bacchus mentoring programme, Niovi was teamed with the Head of Human Resources at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons - Raymond Blanc’s Oxfordshire-based restaurant and hotel. “When I started applying for graduate level jobs Jenny helped me with my CV and covering letter. She also gave me good advice on how to sell myself to potential employers.”

A wide range of industry employers also gave careers talks. They include global groups like Four Seasons, IHG (International Hotel Group), and Firmdale Hotels where Niovi will be starting her graduate training programme. “I really liked their combination of high quality luxury service and their desire to give their guests a personalised, home-beyond-home experience.”

Professional and personal value

The decision to study for a Brookes master’s has been challenging but valuable both professionally and personally, says Niovi. “Leaving Greece to study for a master’s in England was a big step, but I have built my knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry as well as my confidence in what I can achieve. And studying alongside students from so many countries, including the UK, Spain, Greece, Italy, and Asian students meant we could share our different cultures and experiences.”

“I have built my knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry as well as my confidence in what I can achieve”

Advice to would-be postgraduates

When thinking about changing careers by studying for a master’s, it is vital to make an informed choice but there has to be that sense of excitement too. “You need to have a gut feeling - a spark of excitement - for what you choose to do, and that will help to motivate you and take you through the challenges. I am so looking forward to the next stage in my career.”

“I have built my knowledge and experience of the hospitality industry as well as my confidence in what I can achieve.”

Niovi Alexandridou

Realising new career ambitions

Jason Howard has had an enviable variety in his career. Graduating with an LLM International Human Rights in 2014, he has now realised his ambition to work for UNICEF abroad, adding it to his fascinating CV.

“I came to Brookes as a very mature student with a very busy life. After interesting roles with the Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard and the New Zealand police force, I decided to add some academic credentials to my long-held interest in human rights."

"I had no idea what human rights really meant, even though there was an interest! I didn’t understand why so many people were so against human rights and I couldn’t understand how governments could argue about human rights. The course encouraged me to think about and find answers to these questions as well as to ask other probing questions."

Up to the minute, interesting course content

"The course was presented in a straight-forward way, the expectations were clear, the content looked interesting. Getting the time to read really interesting materials was one of the best parts of my studies."

"Also, the topics are current; if relevant things happened yesterday, students and teachers would talk about them tomorrow. The lecturers gave us their views and we’d argue with them. Plus the international make up of my fellow students, sometimes at odds with what is reported on our news, made for really dynamic debate."

Photo of Jason Howard

Passionate lecturers

"The lecturers who teach on the programme have a passion for their subject, which is what a mature student needs. Ilona Cheyne, Professor in Law, is a very calm and reassuring person. There were times when I thought I was not cut out to be a student again. Ilona reassured me, talking me through what to expect, how to achieve it, how to do better and how to gain the skills necessary to do so.

"Having LLM after your name does help make you stand out from the crowd. For my dissertation I wrote about the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which I think helped me land a job at UNICEF. That flexibility with the choice of dissertation helped me into my new career. I had hoped to work for UNICEF abroad, and now my ambition has been realised.”

From teacher to psychologist with a Brookes master’s

Charlotte Harris had been teaching for a decade when she decided it was time for a new challenge. Studying for a master’s in Psychology was the first step towards realising her dream of becoming a clinical psychologist.

While she was still a teacher, Charlotte became interested in the importance of psychological wellbeing to her students’ health and happiness. “I taught in challenging London school for eight years and was deputy head responsible for child safeguarding,” she explains. “That experience taught me how poor psychological health impacts on people's ability to function and to gain enjoyment from life.”

“The workload was manageable and so interesting that it didn't feel like a chore.”

Charlotte Harris

Photo of Charlotte Harris

Managing life, work and study

Charlotte’s fascination for her subject was a key factor in helping her to juggle working, studying and life as a mum of 6-year old twins. “Studying again was absolutely brilliant. It was a bit tricky sometimes but the workload was manageable and so interesting that it didn't feel like a chore.” The support she received from academics also helped. “My dissertation supervisor was always willing to talk through the difficult bits and suggest workable solutions.”

New opportunities

Now working as an as an assistant psychologist in an Older Adults team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Charlotte is due to start her clinical training at the University of Birmingham in September with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. “I would never have been able to do either of these things without the master’s from Brookes as it enabled me to register with the British Psychological Society - a prerequisite for assistant psychologist posts and doctoral training."

What would she say to people who are thinking of studying for a master's as a way of swapping careers? “If you want a change and a challenge then I would highly recommend it. I am so pleased that the transition from teaching to psychology has been relatively smooth. I can't wait to start my clinical training in September.”

“If you want a change and a challenge then I would highly recommend it.”

Charlotte Harris

Changing track to fulfil a life-long passion for the environment

Master’s student Jackie Jobes decided to swap a successful career in recruitment for an MSc in Conservation Ecology. Her studies have already opened doors with a new job as Environmental Project Coordinator for global engineering firm AECOM.

What motivated you to study for your master’s?

"I have been passionate about wildlife and ecology since a child. After working within graduate recruitment for five successful years, I decided it was time to get my own career on track."

"I did a lot of research and looked into different educational routes. I noticed that the Brookes course was accredited by the CIEEM - the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management. This was a huge plus for me. I wanted a course that could actually give me the practical standing that employers valued, not just the academic stamp."

“I wanted a course that could actually give me the practical standing that employers valued to gain a career, not just the academic stamp”

Jackie Jobes

Photo of Jackie Jobes

Were you working alongside your studies?

"I could not have funded the Masters without having a part-time job. I took on a role within a recruitment agency as their Marketing Executive, which meant I was utilising my previous skills and expertise whilst learning new ones. The team were hugely supportive, allowing me the flexibility to work around my studies, not to mention providing me with incredible references when I was applying for jobs!"

Did the course help you to secure your current job?

"The MSc most definitely helped me to secure my current job with AECOM. It gave me a good base to work from, allowing me to understand the sector, develop my theoretical and practical experience as well as explore my key interests. The latter is so important as a mature student. I don’t have time to jump from job to job trying to figure out what I want to do.

By talking to lots of academics and through the modules I selected I was able to identify my niche and target it. In my interviews and now within my new job, I am able to project my future career down that track rather than travelling without a plan."

How have your skills and knowledge fed into your job?

"The welcome email sent to my team during my first week at AECOM had details of the experience I’d gained during my MSc and my thesis. As a result I had an invite to the biodiversity and ecosystems services working group. That is all down to the skills, knowledge and passion gained from the MSc. I have since won an award for my thesis from the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management."

"I have only just graduated and I am fully reaping the rewards of my MSc at Oxford Brookes – through a new career, my CIEEM award, attending international conferences and being part of influential working groups – what more could you want?”

“I have only just graduated and I am fully reaping the rewards of my MSc”

Jackie Jobes

Where next?

And if you’re unsure where you want to go next, our tutors and careers advisers can give you plenty of advice and guidance.