3 study planning tips to make the most of your masters
Published 25th October, 2018
Letsma Iswar Vijayan came to KBS Brisbane last year to study a Master of Professional Accounting and with effort, perseverance and some clever study planning tips under his belt, is working towards his goal of becoming a chartered accountant.
Arriving in Australia, Letsma quickly discovered that although the end goal of a master’s degree, achieved overseas, would no doubt be highly rewarding, the reality of studying abroad can also be initially overwhelming.
He found himself at the crossroads of a lot of decisions that could impact the direction of his career – should he undertake an internship or try to solely focus on his studies? As a master’s student, how would he balance work, life and study in a new country? What other steps should he take to stand out in the employment market in Australia and back home?
The lessons he discovered in how to study efficiently, how to plan and organise the academic year and maximise the resources available to him as a master’s student are something he is now keen to share with other students.
Letsma is not due to graduate until next year, but with a little help from the Careers Central service at KBS, he’s already begun an internship and has adjusted to a schedule of studying while simultaneously working in accounting.
We caught up with Letsma to ask him for some insider tips on how he manages to do it all. Here are his key study planning tips, that could help you plan your way to success.
Make getting an internship central to your study plan. And plan for it.
The extra pressure of undertaking an unpaid internship can be understandably stressful for a master’s student already juggling a lot of other responsibilities. But there is evidence to show that work experience can not only can help to enhance your studies but also lead to paid opportunities. KBS statistics show that one-in-two students who complete an academic internship are offered ongoing employment*. Make sure you build your search for one into your study schedule.
“My biggest disadvantage moving to Brisbane was not having prior work experience in Australia. I was constantly applying for jobs through local websites such as Indeed.com, Seek and through the KBS Careers Central job board.
It was through the KBS careers advisor, Frida, that I landed an interview with Lance Evans, the CEO of Evans International Freight Consolidators and after a great interview, I was offered the role!
I’m constantly learning and it’s a fun social environment, which as an international student, is a great bonus. It’s a valuable opportunity to apply the things I study and learn at KBS, straight away at work, and I have expanded my exposure to my field of study.”
Once you’ve secured an internship, it’s important to plan how it’s going to fit in with your study and what you can do to maximise the experience.
A few key points to consider:
- In the first semester of your course, talk to your careers advisor, find out what your options are, and start planning your search.
- Think about where you want to be when you graduate and work backwards while building your ‘internship timeline.’ It may take six months of searching to find an internship – so when do you need to start looking?
- Match your internship to your study content as much as possible, so that you can directly apply your lessons to your role.
Manage your time, plan, and adjust your priorities.
Use all the tricks at your disposal to manage your time. Apps, calendars and to-do lists are your best friends, when it comes to managing the ‘study, work, life’ balance.
“For huge numbers of us, the battle is in orchestrating our school and work life. The first step to succeeding in getting your masters would be to schedule your life.
Get everything onto your phone calendar. Make sure you schedule all your quiz dates, assignment submissions and exams. This will help you keep track of what you still need to get through to pass the semester. Use the same calendar to put in your work deadlines, all your work meetings, appointments and events. Once again the key here is to get organised.”
Here are our top recommendations for clever apps that can simplify your study planning:
This app will help you write to-do lists and notes, save photos and sync everything across your devices. It even has a special template to help you take notes during class!
The perfect tool for group assignments because it allows you to store and share files. Your group can write, edit, brainstorm and manage tasks – all within one handy app!
A simple-to-use list and task manager that will help you manage your time and workload and give you a clear overview of your weekly and monthly schedules.
A few extra points to consider:
- Sometimes time management means making tough choices about what you do with your time. If you’re struggling with these choices, make a list of your priorities then order them by number. You’ll quickly find out which ones are truly important.
- Use notifications in your calendar to remind you that it’s time to start working on an assignment at least two weeks before it’s due.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out. Student resources like the KBS Academic Success Centre have dedicated staff that will help you manage competing demands and build your study skills.
Be proactive and take advantage of all the tools at your disposal to maximise your study experience.
Lots of students go through their masters without even realising all the extra opportunities they’ve missed that should have been part of their study plan. Be proactive. Find out what extra services your school has to offer, and what other organisations are around to help you kick-start your career. It’s about building a strong personal brand to stand out from other candidates.
“Just attending classes and working won’t give you the edge you need in this modern era. You need to be proactive and keep yourself updated with your work and with the education/training sector. If you seem to have any trouble landing a job, I would totally encourage you to approach a careers advisor as I did with Careers Central.
There are various educational and self-improving functions organised by KBS and other various NGOs. Try to get at least two events under your belt every month. I’m studying accounting, so I attend as many CPA events and career advancement events as I can, to keep myself updated with the constant changes in the field.”
Letsma attending a genYOU 2018 event in Brisbane, which focuses on building a skills toolbox to help stand out from the crowd.
A few extra points to consider:
- Use the careers advisor or service provided by your school. Remember, Letsma got his internship because he approached Careers Central for help with his resume and job search!
- Find out what other organisations can help you. There are always key industry bodies and NGOs out there that can offer various opportunities. For example, CPA Australia helps accountants keep up-to-date on the latest news and trends, through regular news, conferences and networking events.
- Be creative in how you expand your networks. Use social media and networking sites like LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to approach your peers or lecturers, and make an extra effort to contact any industry seniors you admire for advice. You’ll be surprised by how approachable people are!
*Based on 2017 student numbers.