At University, my friend Ruben always inspired me. If he’s not cooking, he’s at a climbing wall, if he’s not rock climbing, he’s doing some graffiti or sketching. These tasks are normally slotted around a ten hour library day. He uses his time wisely and is a non-stop productive bean.
So when we graduated, and Ruben told me he would no longer be doing a Masters at Bristol, I was not only surprised but admired his bold decision. Of course, now he’s in London, he continues to balance about five different things at once.
I asked if I could interview him for grad life crisis, to share his story and let other grads know it’s okay to change direction, take bold moves and go with your gut. We both agree you should know why you’re doing a Masters if you’re considering one, as there's ino rush to get it under your belt.
“London is and always will be home. It’s sad to leave the student cradle but on the whole I'm really glad to be back with my family and surrounded by the experiences and opportunities the city has to offer.”
Ruben said his main change of direction arose from lack of funding. With Masters in the UK generally costing an average of £6,842, It's not an easy decision to make.
“My decision against doing a Masters was mainly down to lacking the funds for tuition fees -£14,000 for the year! - I deferred entry to give myself time to apply for scholarships and grants. I also felt like a change of pace was pretty crucial at this juncture."
In his spare time, Ruben is taking part in Mapping for Change, a social enterprise founded by
academics with an environmental science and geography background.
"We organise participatory science projects around London dealing with issues ranging from air quality to social inequality. The central aims of the projects are to engage residents in the data collection process and to create intuitive maps & infographics displaying the results.
A normal day in the MfC office starts at 10:30. Coffee, chatting about projects, coffee, searching and sorting through data, coffee, analysing and presenting data on GIS software, home. We always have lunch together, and there's plenty of Caribbean and turkish places near us in Dalston which is a big bonus."
The beautiful thing about being young is being able to clear your schedule and make your time your own. I certainly have less commitment than my mum and elder siblings, so embrace the silver lining of your grad life crisis cloud and use it wisely. Ruben's childminding has allowed him to nurture his passions during his year out of education.
"Childminding is my main source of income at the moment. I feel very lucky to have lots of time to put into my art and songwriting right now and I am mainly just enjoying that."
Ruben's decision to defer gave him the time to reflect. He now knows exactly what are he wants to specialise in.
"I feel pretty set on doing a PhD on insect ecology and agroforestry after my masters.
A big goal is to get a bit more harmony between my creative and scientific interests. I think GIS map-making and infographics could play a part in that."
To all the grad life crisees wondering if furthering education and delaying the world of work is a good enough reason to do a Masters, Ruben has some gold gradvice.
"Know why you want to do a masters. Ultimately a masters is about honing your abilities for a specific sector or line of research, so work on getting a clear idea of what that area could be for you, and then find the masters which best prepares you for it. Lastly and most importantly, don't be afraid to ask questions."