It is highly unlikely that the question of how to land your dream job will ever be off the table. It is a topic that everyone has reflected on at some point in their lives. For a prospective Masters student or graduate, answering this question may seem like an unimaginable feat when, in reality, it does not have to be all that dramatic.

Start with the basics

Mapping out your desired career path will be significantly easier if you turn it into a step-by-step process. Although there is no single right approach for handling the matter, it is advisable to start by figuring out the most essential component first – your career goal – and then work your way up from there. Think about what your strengths are and how you could put them to good use. For example, if you have a knack for technology and science but also wish to go into a more managerial or business-related role, outline what your experience in those areas is. Ask yourself how your undergraduate studies have helped to develop your personal and professional identity into what it currently is. Or perhaps your career goal is more entrepreneurial and you wish to start your own business. In any case, having a clear idea of your starting position will lead to a better understanding of where you should be headed.

Get to know the industry

Next up in figuring out your dream career path has to do with some proper research. How do I know what other skills I need to develop to make it in a particular industry, you might ask. It is a good idea to check some popular job boards and websites such as LinkedIn to determine the demands of the current job market. This can be a valuable learning process even for prospective students who are still choosing the right Masters programme. As they gain awareness of the skills required by most employers in a certain field, potential Masters applicants will also be able to assess which programmes are committed to actually teaching and developing those skills in students. Not to mention that the process of self-reflection, and thus being able to express your goals in a more specific context, will undeniably aid you in the creation of your CV/resume and the letters of motivation needed for Masters applications.

As pointed out on the website of the University of Newcastle (Australia), researching your chosen career will help you understand what you need in order to get where you want. “Once you have the answers to some of your questions, you can turn the answers into plans. For example, you find your field of interest is competitive, you need some experience as well as your qualification, and need to demonstrate strengths in a number of skills. Now you are in a position to determine the types of experience you might gain, together with when and how.”

Select your programme

Now that you have managed to outline your career goals and get an initial idea of the typical job requirements on the market, it is time to choose a Masters programme which is in line with these factors. Let’s say you fit the example mentioned earlier and you have a strong quantitative background but also wish to become knowledgeable about the business side of the spectrum. This is an excellent starting point and in fact there are top international schools that offer similar alternatives. According to the profile of École Polytechnique (France), the school offers Masters programmes with a scientific yet multi-disciplinary focus such as Energy Environment: Science Technology and Management (STEEM); Data Science for Business; Internet of Things: Innovation and Management; etc. The institution also stresses its strong entrepreneurial streak and the support it offers to student innovators: “The objective is to produce a true melting pot of ideas, while providing the necessary facilities to develop, test, and launch real products.”

Learn more about Masters programmes at École Polytechnique by taking a look at this handy school profile.

Of course, there will be many more factors to take into account before narrowing down the list of suitable programmes and making your final decision. Even if you are certain that the programme’s curriculum is exactly what you are looking for, keep in mind that elements such as location, language of instruction, duration of the programme, and career services provided by the university will also impact the decisions you make about your career later on.

Take that extra step

After devoting plenty of time to selecting the most suitable Masters degree to secure your dream job, you have been accepted and will soon start your studies! This is great news, but of course it does not mean the process of self-reflection and self-development stop here. No matter how prestigious or highly ranked your programme is, you will still need to be proactive and think about your long-term career plan during your time at the university. Employers are interested in all the practical ways in which students have managed to extend their learning curve. Projects with real-life companies and organisations, extracurricular activities and courses, and volunteer programmes will show your future employer that you have been working hard to develop your skills. What is more, these experiences will be invaluable for advancing your knowledge and boosting your confidence once you graduate and actually begin your professional career.

Schools nowadays also offer plenty of networking opportunities and career advice for students. You will have the chance to improve the look of your CV/resume, consult career experts about employment options, and of course meet and connect with alumni and industry professionals. University career adviser Jon Gregory also stressed the importance of being proactive in a recent piece by The Guardian: “First, follow industries or fields of work that interest you. Second, proactively search out employers – don't wait for adverts, or rest on the use of recruitment companies. And third, make contact with people who already do the roles you want. Ask them how they got there, what the job is really like, and whether there are any opportunities coming up. Most people will be happy to help you if you approach them the right way. In time, you'll possess a fantastic network of useful contacts for the next stage of your career.”

Taking the time to reflect on your professional interests and goals and dedicating sufficient effort to pursuing them will undoubtedly yield good results. Completing a Masters programme that reflects those goals is certainly an excellent way to get to your destination.

Read: Masters Careers - Life After Your Masters