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University of Sydney (USYD)

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Maria Angelica Reyes

My course is a general degree that included multifaceted concerns.

About you

What did you study at undergraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now? Are you studying and working at the same time?

I studied Master of Development Studies (full-time graduate studies) at the University of Sydney. I started in June 2017 and I graduated last May 2019. I was studying full time. I only worked part-time then. Before that, I took my undergraduate degree in the Philippines and I graduated in 2011. 

What have been the most important stages of your life?

The most important stages of my life were when I was able to do some community volunteer service. It was an extraordinary experience when I was still studying. Going abroad to represent my country in different conferences was also an important stage. I think another important stage was when I got a fulfilling job that sent me in far-flung areas to do some ethnographic work for the vulnerable population. 

How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and how long have you been working there?

I just recently graduated (last month) so I am still applying for a full-time job. 

About your course

What made you decide to progress with further study?

When I graduated in 2011 and I started working in the development sector, I realised that there is a need for me to know the different perspectives and theories of people. I was really thrilled to learn deeper about this path of community development so I decided that I will pursue a postgraduate degree (master's). 

How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?

As I have watched the news and read online materials, I know that my passion is in the development or public service. I had an alternative degree which is Master in Development Practice but it was requiring a specific undergraduate degree which is different from what I had. I think my career path is clear. I really wanted to pursue any jobs in the government, NGO and private organisations that are related in addressing poverty, social, environmental, and economic challenges.

What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?

I applied for a scholarship in USYD. The scholarship team assisted me in getting into my program. Regarding the prerequisite, my undergraduate degree was approved to be a related degree in my postgraduate program. Also, for international students who are interested in our postgraduate program, there is a required IELTS minimum score of 6, I think.  

What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)

My study involved 24 units per semester. That is composed of four courses per semester. Each class requires you to attend a two-hour or three-hour lecture. In a week, there were days that I did not have classes, but I needed to study because each course expects me to read and write a lot. A typical day was going to uni prepared. Before each class, I should have read the two or three assigned readings. In the class, the professor will present his slides. After his lecture, he will start asking the students to be in groups. We will then discuss the readings and answer some questions. The teacher will moderate the groups.

Pros and cons

Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.

Yes, the course is beneficial to me. The learned some theories, strategies and technical knowledge in my classes. I am also now qualified to work in international organisations like the United Nations and Asian Development Bank which prefer employees with postgraduate degrees. They prefer employees who are experts in theories and technical knowledge who they can send in different parts of the world to solve different social, economic and other issues. 

What do you love the most about your course? 

I love that we all discuss real-life issues that happen in the world today. We studied the diverse setting in the government, NGO and private organisations to serve the people. We had the opportunity to speak and get some inspirations with our guest lecturers who have been working in the field.           

What are the limitations of your course?

The course is an eye-opening for me to know that every organisation in the development sector is imperfect. My course taught me that if I join the NGO, there are limitations to the donor's interests. If I join the government, there are political issues that I need to deal with. If I join the private sector, I need to consider the profit of the company. There are various concerns that are unavoidable internally to be able to solve poverty and other issues in the public.

My course is a general degree that included multifaceted concerns. There are lots of topics that I need to cover like gender, culture, economy, education, religion and others. It may sound positive because of its broadness but it is a bit overwhelming. 

A word to the wise…

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.

 There are no shortcuts in places or dreams that you want to achieve. You need to have the perseverance to be able to achieve your goals. Always remind yourselves about your deeper 'why" or purpose.