The End of Timetabled Education

Almost two weeks ago, the taught part of my Master’s at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies ended. It culminated in a day of presentations, as if by each division of a publishing house to the board of directors.

New Product Development, a module renowned as much for the stress it causes as the rewards that follow. I feel particularly lucky in that I didn’t find the experience hugely stressful or unpleasant in any way. I would both be lying and inhuman if I said that there was no stress whatsoever in the process, part of the module is, in itself, learning how best to cope with workplace stresses (though the stresses of working life will be vastly different than MA stress). Each of us had other assignments to do for other modules and it at times felt a little overwhelming.

As (I think) I have written in a previous entry, I was placed in the Humanities and Social Sciences division of the fictitious ‘Buckley Publishing’ with seven others. I leapt at the chance to be Head of Design and my group graciously let me. We developed a proposal for Buckley Gold Open Access, an innovative open access platform (and four journals to be launched alongside it) for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Future plans included the expansion of the platform to cover other divisions such as STM and AAD.

I very much enjoyed creating the designs, building our brand even through the slides we used in our presentation. It was a exercise in team work and creativity and something I greatly enjoy. What I didn’t enjoy so much was the presentation; I am not a fantastic public speaker, the thought of speaking in front of people is not one that excites me. (As you probably already know.)

It went better than I thought it would. I may have rewritten my little portion of the presentation unintentionally as I was saying it but everything went well. Alongside the speaking, I was in charge of the smooth running of the slides, the changeovers were in my jittery little fingers. There was one hiccup caused by the jitteriness of the aforementioned fingers, otherwise all was well.

We were second, something I was incredibly grateful for as the day progressed. Having to wait any longer would have increased the nerves and decreased the likelihood of our presentation going as well as it went; we came in third place. (Below are only some of our slides.)

It was a good end to the taught portion of the course, a greater end than lessons simply stopping. It felt like a kind of closure.

Now begins the job search and the completion of our Major Projects or Dissertations and in true Emma fashion (the Elou in me shakes her head at this) I have created a schedule. Of course, I won’t stick to this schedule to the letter but it is nice to have one. Having been in formal education since I was four, with no breaks longer than the summer holidays, the idea of life before I secure myself a job is somewhat terrifying. Hence the schedule.

Everything is covered, from exercise to searching and applying for jobs, to my Major Project, to finishing my novel; it is packed and that is how I like it. As endings go this is a particularly good one and in no way do I regret my decision to do this Master’s. It has been a great experience, one that is not yet done.

But now I move on to the great job search and I feel like I’m finally ready.