Weighing up the benefits: full-time job or full-time study?

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Okay, so for my first blog I thought I should start by sharing my experience about the struggle of deciding whether to go back to study or “play it safe” and keep on working. Ultimately, how I ended up at Edinburgh Napier University!

Hey everyone and thank you for reading my first ever blog (exciting right?) I would like to share my experiences and thoughts about making the decision to go back to studying again after having worked in a rather well-paid job for more than five years. Maybe there is someone out there who is also standing at a crossroads and thinking about which option to choose. If so, just maybe my experiences will inspire you or even help a little with your choice.

This is me

So first, let me introduce myself and talk you through my background. I’m Bianca, a 29 year old girl (I still find it weird to call myself woman, so I’ll just go with girl) from the south of Germany. I did my bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management and after finishing this I went to Edinburgh where I did an internship with an incoming tour operator for 6 months. I really wanted to experience the “being abroad” feeling and thought this was the perfect way to do that. I went on to start working as a (senior) sales manager for a tour operator on school trips for over 4 years before moving on to working as an executive assistant in a consultancy firm for 9 months. (I’ve done a lot, I know) Finally I made the decision to start studying again.

While I was very good in both of my former jobs and I enjoyed them (most of the time), I always wondered whether I should continue my academic career and embrace the idea of a master’s degree. And let’s be honest, I was also wondering which option would get me the most money in the future.

My work Christmas party
Hard at work Starnberg

Making the decision to gain work experience first

As an undergraduate student, my life was a bit chaotic and I really didn’t have a routine. During my internship, I had a regulated and “normal” life, working from 9-5 as Dolly Parton would say. I really liked that. And besides, I couldn't even begin to imagine having to write another thesis (I really did not enjoy writing my thesis). So, I decided to gain some work experience and applied for a job. After all, I was just 23 years old at that time and thought there was still plenty of time to get another degree if I wanted to. Also, all the job descriptions I was looking at wanted people with working experience and not people with a master’s degree. That is how my professional career began and I immensely enjoyed it – especially being independent from my parents and finally being able to afford little things like a new book or piece of clothing.

But, there is more…

A few years into working, the thought of getting a master’s degree emerged again. I wasn’t really satisfied with my job and I was really ambitious to do more. I wanted more. I was hungry for knowledge and didn’t want to accept that this was it. But what should I do? Get another degree or just apply for another job?

The struggle is real

First, I applied for another job. Lots of them. As i struggled to find a new job, I quickly began to think could I go back to being a student, with no “big” income and having to cut down a lot of expenses? I didn’t feel ready for that step. So I reassessed my abilities and applied for a totally different job, namely an executive assistant at a big consultancy firm – and I got the job! I started my new career at that firm, with a decent salary that even allowed me to save more money.

Realising that I can do more

During my time at that firm we hired a lot of new consultants – and a lot of them were around my age. Yet, I was “just” an executive assistant. And don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with that but for me personally, I just wanted to do more. And seeing all those young people doing an outstanding job so much further in the hierarchy than I was, was frustrating and inspiring at the same time. That was the point when I realised that I couldn't let something as trivial as my financial situation keep me from developing further. I started looking for courses and found one that was near Munich (where I was working at that time), in Landshut, and just 5 days before the application deadline I handed in my application.

The new chapter – my advice

And I made it! I got accepted and also knew at that point of time that I would be able to do a semester abroad, hopefully at Edinburgh Napier University (because hello, it’s Edinburgh, and Edinburgh Napier has a pretty good reputation! And I just loooove cinnamon swirls). So I handed in my notice of termination and started studying in Landshut in March 2019.

It was a tough decision, especially since I like to play it safe and I hate having debt but I was able to get a student loan and even got a small scholarship for studying abroad. I want to encourage people that are in a similar position to not only think about the downside (debt, low income, cutting down expenses) but to focus on the things you will be gaining (obviously a higher degree, probably a higher income, lots of new experiences, more knowledge and development of your skills).

Calton Hill

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