Q: I'm in my final year of a geography degree, but I don't want to pursue a career directly connected to the subject. I have, though, discovered that I like the idea of working in logistics. Are there Masters courses that can take me in this direction? And what sort of people go into this field?
A: There are plenty of universities offering Masters courses in logistics, largely centred on the practices used by the commercial world to ensure materials, products and people are always in the right place at the right time. The people attracted to this area of work are usually naturally drawn to detail and are good organisers of themselves and other people. These days, of course, almost all of this area is driven by technology and tailored computer software, so you'll need to be comfortable with your face at a computer screen for much of your working day. Most courses will include an international dimension, as so many businesses these days have a global supply chain to think of, so I'd advise looking at courses' content in depth and matching the degree of international coverage to your own ambitions. As an alternative to a postgraduate course, you can try to get any junior management job in a business, express interest in the logistics side and take professional development units under the direction of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (www.ciltuk.org.uk).
Q: Are there any Masters courses that I can do that will help to get me into a job involving Third World development?
This is a very popular field to get into, so it's very competitive. You will need an unbending desire to work in this field to stand a chance of getting onto a course. You also need to do some thinking and research into what specific area you want to target, because there's a wide range of courses out there, reflecting the wide range of issues linked to Third World development. For example, some courses focus on the economies of developing countries; others have a slant towards famine relief and agriculture; yet more on the humanitarian dimension and human rights. Your chances will be improved if you can link the content of your first degree to the emphasis of the Masters. But the most impressive way to show your commitment to this field is to offer some work experience with a relevant organisation, even if it is voluntary and at a relatively lowly level. This will show your commitment to the cause is more important to you than earning-potential, which is an approach to life you'll need if and when you get a job in the field after your further studies.
Q: I'm currently on a teacher training course and hope to start my first job in a secondary school in September. I've heard lots of talk, though, about Masters courses in education and wonder if I should try to complete one of those before going into the classroom?
A:Most teachers who do Masters courses tend to embark on them once they have a few years' experience under their belts, because their knowledge of the realities of the classroom and staff room provides them with so much context around which to a build their academic study. The research project or dissertation also becomes more valuable if it is based at a school where the postgraduate student is working or has recently worked. The other advantage of waiting a few years is to that your school may pay your course fees.
Send your queries to Steve McCormack at email@example.com