Postgraduate Queries

'Will a PhD help me become a an exhibition organiser; and, how can I study marketing but work at the same time?'


Contacts are key

Q. I have a BA in arts management and have just graduated with an MA history of art. I'm enjoying working in a gallery as events and marketing coordinator, but I don't know whether to do a PhD or carry on working. Having an MA has definitely made a difference to my employability, so I'd see a PhD as a career move. Ideally, I'd like to be a freelance exhibition organiser/curator and work for a few individual artists.

A. Is the PhD something you feel you ought to do, or something you really want to do? You're going to spend at least three years of your life on it, so you need to be sure. A PhD will enhance your CV, but it won't instantly make you more employable.

And while you might need one to be a museum curator, on the gallery side it may be less important. There is no established route to becoming a freelance exhibition organiser. What you need is experience (such as a good track record of exhibitions) and a strong network of contacts. There are 2,500 museums and galleries in the UK, but the field is very specialist and competitive and networking is vital.

Ask other freelancers about their career background, and ask artists what they look for when employing someone to organise their exhibitions. If you take the PhD route, then make sure that you don't lose touch with contacts during your studies. If you decide against a PhD, you can always do it later.

I need a part-time course

Q. I did the equivalent of a BSc in publishing in France and a BA in interactive arts in Manchester. I started working as a graphic designer but wanted to do more than that, so I managed to get a place as a training and communications co-ordinator for a company. I want to move to the not-for-profit sector, so I have registered with all the recruitment agencies specialising in this sector.

I am now temping for the National Centre for Languages. I'd like to extend my knowledge in marketing, and probably in direct marketing, fundraising and/orPR for international or national charities or the public sector, but I'm not sure which university or college would be the best for it. I also haven't got enough money to stop working, so it would mean either an online course or evening course.

A. As you're in the London area, you could look at two universities in particular - City, www.city.ac.uk, and London South Bank, www.lsbu.ac.uk. Both have a range of public-sector and charity-focused business and marketing postgraduate courses. City University's Business School, CASS, has the Centre for Charity Effectiveness, www.centreforcharityeffectiveness.org, which offers four MSc charity degrees.

These are all part-time and designed for professionals in the voluntary sector. Its diploma in charity marketing and fundraising takes 13 months, with a further six months for a Masters. Students need a good first degree or professional qualification and at least three years' experience.

London South Bank has a Masters in voluntary administration, and a PgDip/PgCert/MSc in charity marketing and fundraising, mixing academic and vocational subjects ranging from marketing to more specialist areas like charity law. The latter takes two years part-time and means attendance one afternoon and evening a week. Again, you need a degree or professional qualification and experience.

You could also look at certificates offered by The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators ( www.icsa.org.uk) and those accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing ( www.cim.co.uk). The Working for a Charity Organisation ( www.workingforacharity.org.uk) is piloting a new eight-month online course in effective voluntary sector management.

Advisers: Sam Thomson, senior lecturer at The University of the West of England's school of art media and design, Margaret Holbrough and Nan Sherrard, Graduate Prospects advisers.

Send your queries to Caitlin Davies at caitlind1@aol.com

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