How my Masters degree took me from my old career to my new business

June 15, 2015

How my Masters degree took me from my old career to my new business

June 15, 2015
Final hours of study
Final hours of study

Things have been a little quiet on my blog for a few weeks, mainly because I was finishing of the final 2 subjects of my Masters in Arts and Entertainment Management. I can’t say I enjoyed the last 2 subjects, mainly because I started to resent the time I was spending studying a couple of subjects that I didn’t feel were going to take me closer to where I wanted to be. Instead, they were keeping me from focusing on getting my business off the ground and from writing this blog.

However, I was so close to the end of my Masters, I had to get it done, and it was a great feeling to do that last exam on Thursday afternoon, exactly two years after having been accepted to the course. And while I have chosen to take my work in another direction, I don’t regret the last two years (even if it comes with a large debt) and there are three main reasons why.

  1. Starting my Masters gave me the courage to see that there was a world beyond my career in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

I started the Masters because I was starting to think seriously about a career change, but like many public servants, I was struggling to see how the skills I had acquired in 15 years working for foreign affairs and trade could be useful in the real world. I had originally thought about PR, but it was a time where there were a lot of redundancies in the media sector and I figured that there might be a lot of competition for jobs. I had also been running the cultural program for the Australian Embassy in Hanoi and was having a great time working with the artists and performers that were visiting Hanoi. Suddenly I could see some alternative career paths and so it became easier to get my head around actually leaving the career I had started out of university. I figured I could start with one subject that was closely linked to what I was doing at work and go from there.

  1. Study reminded me that I was smart, could research and write and had many useful skills

I did really well in most subjects and realised that I was a good writer. I was good at developing project plans, no doubt after many years of organising events and visits – and it was useful to see that these skills could be valuable.  I was contributing to discussions and realising that I actually had quite a lot of experience behind me in a range of areas. I realised that I was also a very good researcher and compared to my undergraduate degree where I wasted whole rainforests photocopying articles I would never read, technology had made research so much easier thanks to iPads and online journals.

  1. I have learned some valuable business skills especially in financial management, business strategy, human resources and marketing

In addition to the specific arts management skills I acquired – in arts management, arts marketing, developing community projects and running cultural events (where I was often able to drawn on activities my team and I were running or would liked to have run had we had some budget), I was able to develop and consolidate a range of business skills. Despite struggling through undergraduate financial subjects, I did really well in my financial management subject, largely in part due to the practical experience of having read financial reports and analysed business performance. I was able to revise some of the fundamental marketing topics I had learned as an undergraduate while updating my skills and knowledge in online marketing, which didn’t exist when I was an undergraduate.

I think the other thing that my Masters allowed me to do in deciding to make a career change was to have a safety net. Although I still wasn’t clear on what I was going to do when I finished work 12 months ago, at least I could tell people I was studying and that I planned to look for opportunities in the arts management area. It didn’t feel so risky to be leaving work when I was going to be studying full time. It also gave me some focus and some structure to my days.

“We must be willing to let go of the

So what happened? Well, I guess I decided that the career path in arts management in the Barossa was limited. Once we got here, the idea of commuting to Adelaide a couple of times a week no longer appealed. But on the plus side, I realised there were great volunteer opportunities and I have and will continue to make the most of these, so in that respect, my degree is definitely not wasted.

The more I explored my opportunities, the more the idea of using my experience overseas and working with rural and regional business to discover new overseas opportunities seemed like a more natural fit for a business that would match my skills and experience with what businesses in the region might want and more importantly need.

The other great thing that I found in the last few weeks of my Masters was just how excited I was about starting my business. Suddenly the degree I had started to distract me from a job I was unhappy in was getting in the way of the business I wanted to launch. The stress of juggling multiple tasks also made me very excited about being able to concentrate full time on my business. Finally finishing my degree also gave me some space to get clear about how I wanted my business to look and what I wanted to do.

This experience has also taught me that we should all continue to learn and to be open to changing and adapting our plans. No experience is wasted and in fact, as I realised, sometimes you need to start something in order to move from where you are. It would be so easy to see the last 2 years and the cost of a Masters as a waste, but it was anything but.

Hopefully my eating habits will improve, now that study is done!
Hopefully my eating habits will improve, now that study is done!

But now, study is over, there are no excuses. A little while ago, I might have used the fact I still don’t have my branding or logo or website or business card sorted as reasons to spend a bit more time planning. It’s time to get Angela Pickett Consulting up and running and see what adventures are ahead in the next chapter.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing a bit more about my experience in setting up a consulting business as well continuing to post on life in the Barossa. After all, one big reason for this career change was creating a career that allowed me to enjoy my lifestyle. I also hope that my sharing this experience, there will be more people whop decide to take a leap and find that career and lifestyle that really works for them.

Angela Pickett

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