Thoughts on my MA

I’ve finally handed in my dissertation, along with all the related paperwork, so my MA is effectively now complete—although apparently it will take until mid-November to get the results. It feels weird to have finished something which has occupied most of the last three months of my life, and to come to the end of a year spent doing something not related to computing for the first time since college. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do until I got my PhD offer, although I did have jobs in mind which I was going to apply for.

On the subject of my MA, although I’m not entirely sure about this, I think it was probably the right thing to have done. I could have gone straight into a job (I had one offer, and other places which I could have applied to, plus offers of freelance work), but I think I would have regretted passing up on the opportunity to do something different for a year. If nothing else, it was almost worth the effort just for the sheer amusement value of seeing the look of utter confusion on people’s faces when I explained what subject my first degree was in—though strangely enough, the reaction was always positive, which wasn’t what I had expected. Giving a paper was good fun, and I enjoyed writing the two assessed essays (yes, I’m weird, I like writing papers/essays) and leading discussions in the tutorials.

On the down side, I don’t think I really fitted in on my course, despite displaying as much enthusiasm as possible in the research training unit and the socials in the first semester. I enjoyed the tutorials and the Latin lessons, but outside of those I always felt rather isolated, which was annoying. The only exception to this was at conferences—I felt much more comfortable at these than I did in the research seminars, and I noticed that the Manchester lot would usually drift off in their own little group whilst I ended up with people from all over the place. Oh yes, and it would have been a much smoother ride had the University not screwed up my registration, my Latin classes, my deadlines and many other things, but I’m almost used to that now, and they would have found a way to be incompetent whatever course I was doing.

Overall, I’m not sure what the MA has done in terms of job prospects, which, regardless of how long I remain a student (anything from one to four years), I will have to face at some point. I think it broadens out my CV and makes me look more interesting than someone who has specialised in the same subject all the way through their education, but I’m not sure if it will be seen as a waste of time by some potential employers—although I probably wouldn’t want to work for someone with that attitude anyway.

Anyway, I’m off to the Friends of the Earth local groups conference at stupid o’clock tomorrow (it will probably take about five hours to get from Bury to Reading), and I really need to start packing, or at least check that I’ve got everything that I need. If anyone desperately needs to get in touch I will have my phone with me, otherwise I will catch up on emails, UA, LiveJournal etc. on Monday morning.