How my master's has helped my personal and professional development
Hello, I am Sam. I am currently a master’s student at Leeds Beckett studying Sports Coaching. I have been a football coach for seven years and I am currently the first team women’s manager of Ilkley Town.
An important question potential master’s students rarely seem to ask is: ‘does a master’s degree impact on my personal and professional development?’. If you think about it, it is a pretty important question, especially if one is using their master’s as a stepping-stone to gain or progress to a role within a chosen profession.
Let me answer the question for you from my own perspective and experience, starting with personal development.
I can now talk to professionals and people I have never met before very confidently.
Benefits to my personal development
Thinking about my skills and experience, the first skill for me would be debating and holding a conversation with fellow professionals on conceptual theories and ideologies for academia. Through gaining more knowledge on particular subjects on the course, the layout and structure of the seminars allowed me to develop my confidence in speaking in front of others on academic topics and theories, in detail. From this, I decided to set up my own coaching podcast in 2020 and began debating these same theories with professionals in sports coaching (coaches, researchers, practitioners, lecturers). In fact, I appeared on five podcasts in 2020, being able to confidently talk about topics I had learnt.
On the topic of communication, my course has also allowed me to talk to professionals and people I have never met before, very confidently. On my podcast I never speak to my guests before the episode; I see them for the first time on the Zoom call. I am now able to create conversations that help them feel comfortable before we begin with the podcast episode. I can tell you without any doubt that I would not have been able to do this before my master's degree. I was never one of the undergraduates to start discussing topics in a seminar, I never had the confidence. Now it's not a problem for me, I do it without even thinking about it. As someone going into a profession of coaching football, those are vital personal skills I needed to develop, and they have certainly helped me gain higher level roles over the last twelve months.
My knowledge in my chosen subject area has developed vastly.
Benefits to my professional development
I think I might have given this away earlier - my first answer is going to be my knowledge in my subject area. It has developed so vastly, which of course is very important to my profession.
Another great skill I have gained is my awareness of what I am doing when coaching. You may think this is a given in coaching, but it isn’t! Skills such as planning and reflection you pick up through coaching practice, yet my master’s taught me how to plan and reflect properly. Specifically, I learned how to make decisions naturally, through planning my actions and behaviours appropriate to the coaching context prior to practice. As a young, ambitious football manager myself, it sets me apart from others in my field. I would have never learnt that without studying a master’s degree.
A master’s degree provides professional development as it specialises in the subject area in which your future profession may lie. Upon reflection of my time as a master’s student in writing up this blog, the level of personal development the master's degree has given me is incredible.
Ultimately, personal and professional development in life is created from the sum of the experiences you go through. Studying and going through the master's degree process is certainly a big addition to that sum. If you work hard, challenge yourself and engage with the degree’s process throughout, whether that's full or part time, you will certainly look back on a great amount of both professional and personal development on completion of your degree.