The realities of being a masters student differs for everyone, but one thing is for certain: the stress of writing a dissertation.
Back in September last year, and even through to February, I had envisioned writing my dissertation in cute (over priced) London cafes, the university library, and spending a fortune on trains to interview social media managers and marketing managers at Premier League and Women’s Super League clubs. The reality is very different thanks to a pandemic, not that I completely moaning as my bank account is sufficiently happier. The challenge was writing a dissertation in my bedroom or in the lounge, while one parent is working from home, and my furlough came to an end for my retail job. It’s been a struggle to say the least.
And if you haven’t guessed my dissertation was an analysis of how Premier League and Women Super League clubs used Twitter during the 2019/2020 season (lol, before cover interrupted 2020 and life was normal – also, who uses lol anymore?), hence interviewing social media managers.
The ironic thing is, is that during lockdown my university work life balance was pretty great, and then furlough ended and I was working again in retail. That’s when the challenge came. Balancing writing a dissertation, interviewing and analysing tweets, while working 4 / 5 days because understaffed at the job. It was then when it became a stress. On top of that on August 3rd I started an internship, whereby I was in their office 4 days a week. The realities of being a master’s student changed for me. I was no longer doing diss work during the day, and instead my evenings were now consumed with writing my dissertation (and thankfully all interviews were done). Ohh and I had a Sunday and Wednesday to work, which actually worked out pretty well.
I decided to spend out speculative CV’s to marketing agencies in Essex as I knew I was coming to the end of my masters, and with no relevant work experience in marketing on my CV that needed to change if I want to get a job in sport marketing soon. So I took on the internship and I knew I would have to balance my time differently, but I did it, and I think I did it pretty okay in the end.
Writing a dissertation is a challenge at any level, and I know I have learnt a lot this time round and hopefully my diss will receive a higher grade than my undergrad diss (wish lets face it was pretty awful, but thankful for a 2.1).
Here’s a few tips, tricks, and general thoughts on writing (and staying sane) your dissertation:
- Your supervisor makes a difference – my undergrad supervisor was fucking awful. He didn’t know my name and couldn’t care less really what my topic was on or being helpful. My masters supervisor was amazing, like genuinely amazing and I couldn’t fault her. I feel so much happier submitting my dissertation this time around, and that’s probably because I wasn’t afraid to ask stupid questions.
- Writing isn’t the hard part, editing is – I had to get my lit review down from 5000 words to 2000 words, and it was fucking awful. What I did realise is that I repeat myself a lot and cut out so much unnecessary stuff. Writing rough drafts are your friends, and write and edit when you are in the mode and not when you brain is fried.
- Draft, draft, draft – I don’t know how many google docs and normal Microsoft Word documents I have of drafts but I have a lot, and its crazy seeing where I was and where it ended up.
- Create a document of all resources you have read and make sure you have a the correct reference (app style, havard etc) in there as well – to keep track of your references keep them all in one doc. It’s easy to grab and search and stop you from panicking, like where the fuck is this reference and on what document, or did I just google and forget to write it down. Also handy to keep a favourites of them on your internet. Stops all the stress.
- If you pick a topic you have genuine interest in, you won’t hate it at the end – I don’t hate Twitter, nor do I hate EPL and WSL clubs Twitters, and I still follow them. I’ve always been fascinated by Twitter and social media, and I have a deep love and interest for football. I don’t hate either, but I may hate Nvivo (a software for coding tweets). It makes it easier to write, and easier to take the time to research and write.
- Handwritten notes are your friend – I’ve always liked writing down my thoughts on paper, but it is also great for taking interview notes and notes from supervisor meetings. It’s a way of keeping track, and great for scribbling down ideas. Also Notes on your laptop are also great.
- Your supervisor is there to help, not for you to be scared of – Yes as already mentioned I was scared of my undergrad supervisor, but this time around I was firing emails and getting the help I needed. Use them, they are there to be used (and maybe get a reference for a grad job).
And just like that, the diss is done. I need a job. I’m no longer a student. Do I have to adult now?