Working, studying, travelling. Bring it on
Amanda Ptolomey has found balancing work and studying for a masters in Citizenship and Human Rights rewarding and fun
So, here I am, preparing for my trip to Sweden for an important piece of international partnership working. All packed? Yes. Got tickets, money, and passport? Yes. Skyrocketing confidence for what I’m about to do? Yes. Absolutely.
And this is why. A few years ago I was enjoying my job – I still love it – but I felt that something was missing. I never went to university but I wanted the academic rigour of high level study to prove to myself that I could do it. But I didn’t want knowledge I couldn’t use. I wanted knowledge that was totally relevant to me and my job. So, with the support of my workplace, I took a deep breath and started a Masters Degree in Citizenship and Human Rights at Glasgow Caledonian University.
What I’m happiest about is that my confidence has increased because now I can talk the right language with the people who make the decisions
My friends thought it was a bit much to take on a full time job and a degree – I thought it might be a bit much, myself! But what is awesome is that because the degree is work-based, it means I’m learning while I’m working. I’ve learned some hard, practical skills that I’ve been using every day, like synthesising policy with practice in funding applications and putting together evidence-based proposals. Certainly, thinking from an evidence-based mindset and combining this with the theory I’ve learned has given me and my organisation stronger positioning where it matters.
But what I’m happiest about is that my confidence has increased because now I can talk the right language with the people who make the decisions. It’s important in our sector to feel comfortable with all kinds of people. I feel I can to speak to anyone at any level - politicians, civil servants, my colleagues and academics – because, basically, I feel more confident in what I’m talking about! And after two years of hard work – and it’s not easy, let me tell you – I understand more deeply the issues that people are talking about, and can contribute my own thoughts. That’s very freeing. So I’m really looking forward to my Sweden trip.
At the moment I’m trying to work out what to do for my dissertation – my final year is coming up. I’ve learned so much in the last two years and broadened my knowledge, so it’s very hard to choose a topic. But I feel re-energised about what I care about, and I’ve so many new perspectives. My knowledge isn’t static; we’re examining emerging, dynamic issues as they happen, like the refugee crisis and welfare reform.
But what I didn’t expect was how much fun it is to be a student. It’s such an amazing campus with brilliant facilities, and the good thing is that because many of us students work, it’s really flexible: no early lectures! My lecturers are so obviously passionate about what they do. I feel like I’m part of a team that’s always learning, always experimenting. Sweden, here I come!
Amanda Ptolomey is Volunteer Service Co-ordinator at Trust Volunteering Inverclyde. Find out more about the Glasgow Caledonian University Msc in Citizenship and Human Rights.