The recent completion of a Master’s degree in History of Art has led to a journey filled with excitement, frustration, confusion, and absolute determination. This is not just for myself, but also for others. Despite its comprehensive teaching programme and unique collaborative modules with leading art institutions, nothing of the MA course at the University of Bristol could have prepared its students for the seemingly impossible job-hunt ahead of them.
My name is Sian. Inside my head I’m an academic. In the real world I am unemployed.
Having to defer the start of my PhD by a year due to financial difficulties, I’m using this ‘year out’ as an opportunity to conduct some self-study; I have my own academic projects on the go which should hopefully provide me with a bit of leverage when the time to grovel to the AHRC comes about once again.
As well as learning how to network and create an online professional presence, I’m writing an article intended for publication, and constantly renovating my thesis proposal. On top of this I read. A LOT.
I plan to use this space to record my journey from the safety-net of the university lecture hall, through the frustrations of endless job applications (and rejections) to, hopefully, the first step in my academic career.
While we can all vouch for the fact that the job market is particularly tough at the moment, and solely having a degree just doesn’t cut it anymore for employers, I think it would be fair to say that the venture into the professional world is especially trying for students of humanities subjects like History of Art. One of my friends and co-MA survivors recently received a pitying look from a post room worker when she mentioned her two degrees in this subject. This is unacceptable. Some may not view the arts as directly aiding society, but they readily overlook its positive impact on the economy (to name just one thing).
I know there are many humanities graduates and postgraduates in the same position as my friend and I. I hope this record of my efforts (and the lessons I learn along the way) may be of some use to you, whether you follow my example or learn from my mistakes.