David Olney
7 November, 2022

In my recent blog post, “Status and value: how much of each do we need?”, I asked you to consider whether you add enough value, and are sufficiently valued, in your current job, or whether you are relying on status to make up for value?


As I am waiting for my thesis to be marked, to complete my Master of Media in Strategic Communication, I thought this is a good time to write something about why you should consider returning to study.

When I decided that my time as a lecturer was coming to an end, I also decided that I would need to get a new qualification to get me where I wanted to go: into the world of strategic communication and marketing.

I decided that I would need to study for two reasons: I needed a qualification, so that people would feel comfortable hiring me and listening to me in a new area; and I wanted a fast method to accumulate new knowledge and skills in a coherent and cohesive way. The Master of Media in Strategic Communication ticked both boxes, particularly because it allowed me to do two internships in the areas I wanted to move into, providing me with an effective way to gain professional experience and recognition (which resulted in my job as a Marketing Strategist at Talked About Marketing).

If you are not giving and getting enough value out of your current career, then you should at least think about returning to study. Please don’t just think about study as something to fill time, or maybe open a mysterious new career door. You need to know why you are studying, what you need to learn, and where you want to get. If you haven’t worked out the why, what, and where of study, then there is a significant risk that you won’t value, or get value out of, studying, and it will be harder to deal with the lack of status that comes from stepping away from one career to study, to start another career.

In my case, I went from being a lecturer with an excellent reputation with students, to being a student in a different discipline in the same University. This could have been a horrible experience, if I hadn’t decided to cultivate a beginner’s mind, and if I hadn’t been taught by lovely people who quickly got over me being an ex-lecturer.

If you know why you need to study, what you want to learn, and where you want to get to, a surprising number of people will be supportive of your decision to study, to start a new career. If you don’t know why, where, and what you are doing, then how can you expect people to find it easy to support you? As much as trepidation goes along with the process of studying and starting a new career, you can reduce how much it impacts on you by making it easy for people to believe in what you are doing.

Returning to study can help you to get where you want to go, but it isn’t a silver bullet. You need to know why you are studying, what you need to know, and where you want to go, so that you can deal with your own trepidation, and so that you can positively influence other peoples’ perceptions of what you are trying to achieve.

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