Life & Style

The University of Newcastle

Is 2021 the year that you take a new career direction?

Whether you’re looking for a change of career, the opportunity to earn more money or just want to expand your mind, studying a postgraduate degree at the University of Newcastle is one of the best ways to make it happen. 

With more than 75 degree options to choose from the possibilities and opportunities are endless. However, if the idea of a postgrad degree brings with it a long list of questions and what if’s, don’t worry you’re not alone.

Prior to enrolling in a postgraduate program Jessica Redman found herself in that exact position. Pushing ahead, Jess completed her first four subjects before moving into the Master of Business Administration (MBA) which she graduated from in 2019, a move that has proved to be one of the best decisions both for her career and personal development.

Thank you for meeting with us Jess, can I start by asking what made you want to study a postgraduate degree?

There were a couple of reasons. I originally began studying a psych degree, then I moved to teaching and then to business. At the time I think I was too young and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, however, I realised that if I wanted to progress in my career, there’s likely to be a time when I won’t have the qualifications to do so.

Career wise can you give us an overview of where you’ve worked and where you’re currently at?

I’ve worked with nib Health Funds for 10 ½ years, prior to this I was at McDonald’s and was there longer than what I planned to be, I kind of got stuck in management roles. By the time I was 21 I was tired of bossing other people’s kids around and that’s when I moved to nib.

My first role at nib was in the contact centre. Around 18 months later I moved into a training role which I spent five years in before moving into an OD role (Organisational Development).

When did you commence your postgraduate study?

I started as I went into my OD role which was in 2017, and I knew at this point what I really needed was face to face learning and interacting with other students. I’d had a good experience at the University of Newcastle when I was studying teaching, and the new campus had just been built so I only really looked at Newcastle as an option.

You started postgraduate study and progressed into the MBA, can you talk us through your decision to do this?

I completed the first four subjects and at that point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue and one of the lecturers I had for my last subject, James Hunt who was the MBA convenor, encouraged me to apply for my MBA as well as a scholarship into WiMBA, (Women in Master of Business Administration).

Can you explain what WiMBA is?

There are only 6 universities in Australia that offer the WiMBA program and it’s about getting a community of women together to address gender inequality at senior levels of business. Correlations were drawn between most senior leaders having MBA’s and most of them being men, which identified that there was a gap in the number of women going into MBA’s in the first place. There also appeared to be a gap within the program and what happens to women in the learning journey.

Did you find the WiMBA program a positive experience to be a part of?

WiMBA really got me through my MBA as l developed some strong friendships in this program and received a lot of support from the group. I also found that by being involved in WiMBA I was signing on really publicly to say I am a part of this MBA and if I don’t see it to the end I am not just failing me I am failing a generation of women to come, which was taking it a little far perhaps (laughs).

Were there any highlights of your postgraduate study time?

As a part of the MBA I went to France on a two week scholarship and studied innovation which was incredible. There were 42 students from 16 countries and the way the French taught the program was really experiential and practical.

Would you say that postgraduate study has helped you in your career?

It’s definitely helped my confidence, in that now I know I can finish something. I just need to be really dedicated. It’s also taught me that I can learn anything, not that I know everything, but that I can learn anything, I may even be able to master accounting one day. 

It’s also been really beneficial for my personal development and growth, the people I met, the connections I made and going to France was an incredible opportunity. I also had the opportunity to go on a study tour to Silicon Valley in February this year (2020) and that was amazing.

What would you say to someone considering postgraduate study?

I would 100% recommend it. I always say to people if they’re thinking about it, it’s usually a good indication that they should probably give it a try.

I took the approach of what if I just try, yes it looks really big from the outset with 12 subjects and 4 years part-time, however instead of worrying about all the ‘what if’s’ look at the first couple of subjects and go from there.

I think the skills you learn, especially around being able to think critically, problem solve, and deal with other people, those human skills, is what you get from postgraduate study and these will be skills that will be so important in the future. Even if you’re not sure of what you want to study, you’re going to learn how to learn and that’s core to everything.

Do you have any plans to study in the future?  

It’s never not on my mind, I do have a baby on the way, but I love learning. I don’t necessarily love being assessed on my learning, not many people do, having to do assessments is tiring but there is definitely more that I want to learn, particularly in the science field, and science of people. Perhaps if I can master this parenthood thing I may dip my toe back in the water.

If you have been thinking about pursuing postgraduate study, visit the University of Newcastle’s website to learn more.