Jack is studying the MSc in Food Policy. He chose City for its reputation and academic expertise in the field of food, food systems and food policy.
What was your main motivation to undertake postgraduate study?
To develop my knowledge and understanding of the factors that influence our food production and consumption. Though I had some previous knowledge from my professional background, I wanted the opportunity to explore further this subject within an academic environment. The Centre for Food Policy is rightly respected for its expertise on food policy around the world.
What were the factors that influenced your decision making when considering postgraduate study?
An ex-colleague studied the MSc in Food Policy and had waxed lyrical about how it had deepened their understanding of food systems, food policy and food in general. I had switched industry two years prior to starting the course (food production to the charity sector) and was struggling to figure out what to do next. After having being made redundant in the charity sector, I wanted to develop professional skills with a vocational capacity and I knew City would be a fantastic place to do this.
What were, if any, the main challenges that affected your decision about postgraduate study? How did you overcome them?
Costs have been the biggest challenge for me to overcome. I’ve taken a postgraduate loan but that barely covers tuition fees. I’ve managed to get some financial support from parents/grandparents and working part-time around the university.
Why did you choose City?
I chose City because I knew of its excellent reputation as an industry-relevant institution that prepares its students for the professional environment. City is the only university to offer an MSc in Food Policy so it made perfect sense for me to study here.
How studying a postgraduate degree has helped you develop personally and professionally?
It has allowed me to develop my writing skills, which I haven't really had the opportunity to use since graduating in 2011. It has also allowed me to hone in on what really interests me about food and food policy, which will help me in finding employment upon graduation.
Professionally, our course assignments are based on real-world examples (policy briefs, value chain analysis etc.) which will be of great use in professional settings, and were not things I’ve previously had the opportunity to do.
Personally, it has developed my relationship and networking skills within a multicultural environment. This has allowed me to think about my relationship and understanding of food in different ways and made friends with people all over the world, who I may be able to visit in the future!
What skills and knowledge do you think the course has helped you develop?
My course has developed my skills of articulation, presentation and critical thinking. Food Policy is a complex topic, so being able to express ideas succinctly is important. In particular, looking at problems and solutions is crucial to policy success and my course emphasises critical thinking and being able to get to the core of issues, looking at these from multiple perspectives to find solutions.
In terms of knowledge, food policy is a broad topic and our assignments have allowed me to investigate issues that I'm interested in to an extent that my personal interests or previous roles hadn't. It's also pushed me to explore others aspects of food and food policy that I may not have previously thought to look into.
What opportunities and experiences City has offered you during your course?
Our course has numerous guest lectures from academia and industry from across the world, as well as lecturers who are respected as some of the best in their field. This expertise is invaluable to developing our knowledge.
As students on our course come from a wide variety of backgrounds, we're always recommending internships/job roles to each other and networking with each other. Our lecturers are also always suggesting positions to us, as well as IFSTAL workshops, Food thinkers lectures and other opportunities to deepen our understanding on food.
As Programme Representative, I've also had the opportunity to discuss our course and potential improvements with staff and students. I've also been able to organise off site visits with students, which have been both fun and insightful!
What advice would you give to people thinking about postgraduate study? What would you have liked to know then that you know now?
Do it! It can be a bit overwhelming at first but being able to study, learn and develop your knowledge and skills is really inspiring and motivating.Especially if you've spent some time away from university, doing a postgraduate degree is a fantastic way to get you where you want to be.
I was quite well prepared by my department for the expectations of the course. However, I would have liked to know more about the timetabling for each term a bit earlier as it may have helped in accessing part-time work to fund my degree whilst studying.
What are your career plans once you have completed your postgraduate degree?
Food Policy is interdisciplinary and thus a gateway for careers into local government, the civil service, NGOs, the charity sector, agriculture, food retailers and much more! Having worked in both wholesale distribution and the charity sector, I would like to try working for local government or the civil service.
How do you think City has equipped you for the next stage in your career journey?
City has encouraged me to think critically and develop my knowledge and understanding of food, food systems and food policy. It is fantastic for networking and for preparing you for the professional world through the use of assignments focused on the food policy sphere. Once I've finished my course, I believe I'll have the skills necessary to get to where I want to be!
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