Postgraduate Queries

When I finish my French and Spanish degree in summer 2011, I want to work towards becoming a translator. Is taking a Masters a good way to get in?
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Translation courses at Masters level come in varied guises. You could study full-time, part-time or by distance learning; then there are specialist courses for translating literature, or technical and commercial material, or audio-visual in relation to specific languages. You’ll find 118 such Masters degrees by searching at www.prospects.ac.uk under “courses and research”.

To improve your work prospects, aim for courses that are applied rather than theoretical, so you gain experience in translation, and check with the Chartered Institute of Linguists whether the course would be recognised if you apply to become a chartered linguist.

The institute ( www.iol.org.uk) and the other main relevant professional institution, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) ( www.iti.org.uk) both also run practical courses, short of Masters level, dealing with such matters as finding freelance work and running your own business.

Both professional institutions have information on their websites, together with vacancies and notices relating to work openings. The ITI also runs a professional support group. Experience is crucial, so build up a portfolio of your translations. This should help you get your first commissions.

What are the rules regarding funding for postgraduate degrees in Britain? I am from Nepal and am finishing an MRes at a UK university in sustainable energy development. I want to find some funding for a PhD, but it seems I don’t qualify as I’m from outside the EU.

Even though the UK research councils don’t generally offer awards to non-EU students, there are other possible sources of funding for someone in your situation. The difficulty is you will have to spend a fair amount of time on the internet, as the information is scattered around numerous web pages.

Your first stop might be The British Council’s academic website www.educationuk.org which gives an overview of awards and scholarships for international students.

You may also want to do some preliminary research at www.finda phd.com and the international students’ section on www.prospects. ac.uk. Another source worth trying is the Chevening organisation ( www.chevening.com), administered by the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Individual universities and departments may also have their own scholarships and awards for international postgraduates. You will need to identify likely PhDs and check what funding might be available locally. Finally, don’t neglect your own country. There may be money for students doing doctorates abroad.

I’m approaching the end of a psychology degree and have a dilemma. I know I want to work in human resources, but I also want to continue studying psychology in a bit more depth. Do you think that a Masters in psychology would help my career chances?

There are several issues you need to consider before committing yourself to further study. First, do you want to qualify as a psychologist? If so, you need to do a Masters approved by The British Psychological Society ( www.bps.org.uk).

Alternatively, you might be interested in a more general Masters, which does not carry BPS accreditation, but does investigate workplace issues such as bullying, career management, physical and emotional well-being in employment, counselling and coaching for employees, or lifelong learning. While some of these might fall under a psychology heading, others might be rooted more in sociology, education or health departments.

Both these routes would give you academic experience relevant to a job in HR, but neither would qualify you as an HR specialist. For this, you would need a qualification approved by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (www.cipd.co.uk). This qualification can be acquired by starting in a relatively junior HR job and taking CIPD courses while working, or by doing an HR-flavoured Masters that combines academic study with a CIPD award. Whichever route you choose, think about trying to get experience in HR or recruitment.

Thanks to Liz Hagger and Gill Sharp, careers consultants for Domino Careers ( www.dominocareers.co.uk )

Send your queries to Steve McCormack at steve.mcc@virginmedia.com

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