In terms of finance, the Masters year can feel like a squeeze. At undergrad level there were loads of schemes and reasonable loans. At PhD level, the majority of people apply for funding with a stipend, making it more like a paid job. The things I found this year were in the middle: some people get funding, others only have loans. Here’s my take on how the process worked.
My PG financial journey began, like most good things, with a chat with my Mum. We sat down and drew out the potential income and outcomes the year would entail. This helped me decide whether I would need more student loans and how a part-time job might look.
Then I had a natter with my tutor who runs my programme. He pointed me to many places of interest, particularly highlighting some departmental funding. He also gave me an idea of the course contact hours which helped me see that a paid role alongside my studies was feasible.
I unsuccessfully applied for a grant from a linguistic society but was fortunate enough to be selected for a departmental grant. After receiving this, I adjusted my estimates for the year and went looking for roles over summer.
York is excellent for students looking for work. From late June 2017, I began working as a freelance researcher for an employee engagement company called Karian and Box. I signed up as an occasional theatre steward at Riding Lights. I also took a day’s work as an extra for a Bollywood movie, which makes for a great story! When term started in September, I began to pick up even more work as a Student Ambassador – giving tours, writing blogs (like this!) and welcoming visitors to campus (see featured image). Some sort of non-academic work is a fantastic distraction from the Masters too: it gives your brain another active pursuit and is hugely helpful.
Because of funding, personal savings, parental support and work, I embarked upon a loan-free year. The three roles I have mean I work about a day and a half a week, but I’ve been able to work less during essay hand-ins and more in the holidays. Although money has been tighter than before, I’m aware that this year is a one-off. Next year, I’m pleased to say, I have a full-time role with Karian and Box. The renaissance transformation of my CV because of my roles this year definitely helped secure this job.
One other aspect of finance is accommodation. I set out with a friend to get a private shared house and for me, this was the most economical. York offers a lot of student rentals and many of my coursemates signed up for accommodation via postgrad house-share groups online. You don’t have to break the bank, but you may have to share some small kitchens.
My top tips
I hope this shows that you can get along pretty well. Finding the balance between work and my studies has been a challenge, but freelance roles have given me control over my hours. There are many options for funding PG studies and it can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few tips summarising what I’ve learnt:
- Plan ahead: drafting some estimates and having a chat with someone is really useful.
- Talk to your department(s): your current and future department will know of academic grants and schemes and are knowledgeable about the process of PG funding.
- Consider part-time work: it’s a CV booster, a guaranteed way to get money and a nice distraction!