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A postgraduate degree expands your possibilities, whether you are building directly on an undergraduate degree, or studying a new subject with a specific career in mind. Some of our graduates talk about the opportunities they seized to build their skills and experience during their time at Brookes, and how it’s helping them to develop their careers.
90.9% of all UK postgraduates are in occupations classed as professional, compared with 66% of undergraduates Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2014
90.9% of all UK postgraduates are in occupations classed as professional, compared with 66% of undergraduates
A passion for working in the sports nutrition field spurred postgraduate Becci Williams on to securing a position at GSK Human Performance Lab - a world-class science facility specialising in elite performance.
Becci, who completed her master’s in Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition in 2013, is part of GSK’s Expert Science Team, liaising with national governing bodies like Triathlon England, and with universities around the UK. Her work includes educational sessions on the scientific theory of protein and rolling out protein guidelines for elite sportspeople.
Building a professional portfolio A key driver to securing her position with the Human Performance Lab was the opportunity to start building a professional portfolio in applied sports nutrition while she was still studying for her master’s. “The course lecturers encouraged me to make links with local sports clubs”, she explains. “I was able to provide sport science support to a group of young female rowers, performing tests such as the lactate threshold test, which allow the coach to determine the effectiveness of the training regime.”
Building these connections gave me the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with athletes, some of whom were performing at an elite level as part of the GB Under-23 squad. Becci Williams, studied Applied Sport and Exercise Nutrition
Building these connections gave me the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with athletes, some of whom were performing at an elite level as part of the GB Under-23 squad.
And as a member of Brookes’ acclaimed rowing club – another key reason that she came to Brookes – Becci was able to use her own experiences as a rowing athlete and her academic knowledge to advise about performance nutrition, in some cases offering individualised recommendations. “Building these connections gave me the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with athletes, some of whom were performing at an elite level as part of the GB Under-23 squad.”
Bringing together learning and a passion for elite sports Becci’s undergraduate degree, in Sport and Exercise Sciences from the University of Birmingham, meant she had no background in dietetics, so the PG course’s heavy focus on the fundamentals of nutrition proved an important new dimension to her learning. As was the opportunity to work with academics from eclectic professional backgrounds who provided support, not only by interpreting literature and course content, but also through careers advice.
But it was the opportunity to bring together the learning from her course with her experience in the Brookes rowing team that sparked Becci’s future career path: “I was incredibly proud to be part of the Oxford Brookes University rowing club and trained alongside some incredible student athletes”, she enthuses. “The opportunity solidified my intent to work within the sports nutrition field in an elite environment - I was able to see firsthand just how finely tuned nutrition can support the aims of an athlete.”
Emma Searight secured her first job as a fully qualified primary school teacher before she’d even finished her training.
She did a PGCE - the standard route for graduates looking to get into primary and secondary teaching. The year-long course involves placements in schools, mentoring from current teachers and academic study. She gave us some reflections on her decision, and the events that followed:
“I left university unsure of what I wanted to do, so have tried out a variety of different things. I completed a CELTA and taught English in South America and Oxford, worked for a charity supporting young adults with learning disabilities, and was a TA in a primary school.
I now feel more sorted and that my life is going in a direction I am really excited about. Going back to uni to do the PGCE felt like the right next step and I have no regrets! Emma Searight, PGCE
I now feel more sorted and that my life is going in a direction I am really excited about. Going back to uni to do the PGCE felt like the right next step and I have no regrets!
I deliberated for a long time about whether to do the PGCE. After working in a primary school as a TA and experiencing the day-to-day life there, I was unsure I was up for the challenge of teaching. But I knew I wanted to do something rewarding, which did not involve an office, and to be in an environment where every day is completely different from the next.
It has prepared me well. I have had some incredible placements, and have been mentored by some fantastic teachers. I have a job lined up for September which was offered to me six weeks before finishing the course. It has been a challenging and rewarding year, and I am very much looking forward to having my own class in September!”
Landing the role of business analyst with energy suppliers EDF Energy has given James Chaplin the perfect springboard into a career which harnesses his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with his recently completed master’s in Finance.
When did you leave Brookes and start your new job? “I left Brookes in September 2015 after completing my one-year MSc Finance course, and started work for EDF Energy in the middle of September. I did have several job offers while I was studying, including the opportunity to work for an investment bank in New York, but I ended up opting for EDF Energy as, given my degree in chemical engineering, I wanted to work in the energy industry.
What made you do the master’s? “I wanted to complement my degree with something more business-related. Oxford Brookes’ business courses have a strong reputation, and Finance provided a great opportunity to broaden my skills ahead of entering the jobs market.
What does your job at EDF Energy involve? “My job as an energy/business analyst is part of a graduate training programme. It involves 6-monthly rotations across different departments and locations, with my first placement in Hove (near Brighton).
How are you applying your learning on your master’s to your new role? “My current role is in the acquisition planning and forecasting team. The financial modelling I carried out on the course has given me a good insight into the methodology underpinning our forecasting model. The master’s also helped to develop my critical evaluation skills which is extremely important in my work - breaking down large data sets, extracting crucial aspects and presenting this in a coherent way.
What does the postgraduate qualification given you above and beyond your undergraduate degree? “I strongly believe that doing a master’s has given me a much more rounded skill base and knowledge, while also strongly increasing my confidence whether it’s in interviews or in the workplace. It also provides a step up and further reach in terms of the role and company I wanted to start my career with, providing me with several options when it came to choosing!”