Author: Melinda Ham
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald (Sat 20 April 2013)
Within months of graduating with a master's in international security from the University of Sydney in 2012, Felix Eldridge landed a job as communications officer for UN Women in Africa.
"I co-ordinate the organisation's public outreach," Eldridge says. "This means drafting speeches and briefing notes, working with national and international media, and working with local NGOs to advocate for gender equality and women's empowerment at the national and international levels."
Does Eldridge think he would have got the United Nations job without his postgraduate degree?
"Definitely not," he says. "The UN is so competitive that many candidates aren't even considered without a master's. It's easy to forget when you live in Australia, where unemployment is low, but much of the world is experiencing tough economic times, and the job market is very tight."
Eldridge says the most significant gain from his master's was overcoming the feeling he wasn't good enough. "I've always been fascinated by world affairs, but working in Africa for an international organisation seemed like an impossible dream," he says.
Eldridge says many of his lecturers and fellow students had worked in the field. "Being around people who were once in my position, suddenly I started to believe that I could do it too — and the support and assistance that the university community provided really helped."
Blake Sinclair has started his MBA at the Australian Catholic University after completing a bachelor of commerce at the Australian National University in 2005. This was followed by several years working in the finance sector, interspersed with periods of travel.
Sinclair made a leap from the corporate to the non-profit sector in 2012 after he was offered a position at the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. AIME is a mentoring program for indigenous high-school students to encourage them to enter tertiary education.
"It was a really awesome opportunity to challenge myself," Sinclair says.
But while he had the passion, financial knowledge and experience to do the job as program director, he enrolled in an MBA so he could back it up with theoretical knowledge and give him a stepping stone for later career moves.