Although your priority during your Masters year will of course be your academic studies, there are a whole range of opportunities for getting involved with extra-curricular activities as a PGT. Through active participation and engagement on campus, you can develop your skills and employability, build networks, and enhance your CV - and potentially, give something back to your University community!
Join a student society
The Guild has over 170 groups to get involved with, including A’Capella, Wine, Creative Writing Society and Postgraduate Student’s Association. Student groups and societies are open to everyone – including postgraduates, so make the most of it! Becoming an active member of a student group is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and embrace the social side of student-life, as well as developing new skills (such as communication, team-work, and planning and organisational skills) and building valuable networks. If you can’t find a society that matches your interests, you can even create a new one!
Find out more:
The Guild Postgraduate and Mature Student Association (PGMSA) represents all postgraduate and/or mature students at the University, and campaigns to ensure that their needs are met. The PGMSA also run regular social events, and were instrumental in organising and running the postgraduate and mature students’ Welcome Week. To find out more go to the PGMSA Facebook group.
There are a wide range of opportunities to volunteer through the Guild, ranging from one-off projects to regular placements. Opportunities include local charities - such as Acorn Hospice - to the Guild’s International volunteering group, Intervol, which not only helped build schools in developing countries but has recently moved a Birmingham based project to a national one, having rolled out across universities nationwide.
Volunteering is a great way to develop skills and knowledge, improve your employability and gain valuable experience towards your future career. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, meet other people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and have fun, all whilst making a valuable difference to the local community.
If you are interested in a career in curatorship, or simply have a passion for all things cultural, you might want to consider volunteering with the Barber Institute, or with Research and Cultural Collections on campus.
Represent your peers
Every student and postgraduate researcher at the University of Birmingham is represented by at least one Student Rep in their department. If you are passionate about bringing about positive change for your fellow postgraduates, and enhancing the academic experience, why not become a Student Rep?
In the past, these committees have been successful in securing longer library opening hours, better research facilities and equipment, and more postgraduate social events. Getting involved with the Student Rep System will enable you to make a positive difference to the experience of other students or researchers in your School. In addition, it provides an opportunity to make new friends, get to know academic staff and learn more about higher education - something that is particularly useful if you are interested in progressing to a PhD. It is also a fantastic way for students to develop key employability skills such as communication, influencing and negotiating skills.
Develop your language skills
If you are an international PGT student who would like to develop your academic English skills whilst completing your Masters year, you might wish to attend any of the free English classes provided by the BIA (Birmingham International Academy), on subjects like Academic Writing and Grammar. There is no advance registration - just choose which topics on the timetable interest you and turn up! You can also make an appointment at any point during the year, for individual advice on any aspect of English related to writing your academic essays or dissertation – find out more about BIA support.
Alternatively, you may wish to consider learning a new language alongside studying for your Masters, via the University’s Institution Wide Language Programme. Language skills are highly valued by employers, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a competitive job market. Through language learning, you can also develop your cultural awareness and communication skills.
'Languages for All’ run courses for University of Birmingham students, staff, and members of the public, at competitive price rates – find out more about Languages for All courses.
Working part-time whilst studying can not only help you to support yourself financially, it is also a great way of getting hands on work experience and skill development – provided you don’t take on too much! (the University recommends a maximum of 15 hours per week).
The University has its own dedicated internal recruitment agency, ‘Worklink’, which will connect you to on-campus casual work opportunities. To access the service please register online at: WorkLink.
In addition to this, Jobs, Skills & Volunteering provides access to hundreds of part-time vacancies – locally, within the Guild of Students, and vacation work all over the UK and overseas. All vacancies are advertised on the Jobs website and in the Jobs, Skills & Volunteering office in the Guild of Students.
In the current climate, employers are now seeking a different kind of candidate. They seek students and graduates not only with qualifications which suggest a higher level of ability for the job, but also experience which demonstrates the skills, ability and tendencies to think and act “differently” and “creatively” to a problem or project. They want enterprising people.
B-Enterprising can assist you in exploring and reaching your potential; whether you want to become an entrepreneur, or just develop your enterprising skills and enhance your employability whilst undertaking your Masters. Visit the B-Enterprising website to find out more.