Profile: Gemma Craik
Gemma Craik, MSc in Policy Studies 2006-08 (part time)
You're doing the MSc on a part time basis - what do you do with the rest of your time?
I work as a policy development assistant for a non-departmental public body. The job itself is fairly self-explanatory - I work in policy development! This is a really interesting area and brings me into contact with a range of organisations and people working for the Scottish Government.
Why did you apply to the programme?
I knew I wanted to work in policy, but didn't feel I was quite on the right path. I felt the MSC would improve my knowledge and show my commitment to working in this field. I got my current job halfway through my first year of the course, although whether this was the result of the course I'm not quite sure!
How easy do you find balancing your work with the demands of an MSc?
My work are thankfully understanding, and let me use my flexi-time to attend classes. It can be really difficult at times to juggle everything, particularly at the end of term, when assignments are due. It doesn't always leave a lot of time for much else. The important thing is to try and find a balance. There can be the feeling sometimes that as you're being assessed the same as full-time students, you should be doing the same amount of work as them, but it's about realising your limitations. Ultimately, you can only do what you can do.
Have any parts of the MSc helped you in your work?
It's increased my knowledge generally of how the policy system works. I've tried to choose a mixture of classes that are purely of interest, and ones of benefit for me at work. My dissertation is work related - one of the advantages of doing the course while you work is it offers you access to people/knowledge that might not always be open to those studying the course full-time.
Image: Milling around at Graduation, Bristo Square, Edinburgh. © Andy Aitchison 2007.