Niki Wilkes

Grad School Confidential is a series featuring students who have made the transition from undergraduate to graduate school. Niki Wilkes, an English major as an undergrad, is now a graduate student getting her MA in London. 


I am not the traveling type. I am a Hoosier girl through and through, and a homebody at that. I ended my junior year thinking I would finish my degree and look for a job in a small publishing house in Indianapolis… maybe Chicago if I was daring. I knew next to nothing about how to be a publisher, but I figured most publishers started that way.12108217_10153091389636837_315434360069056146_n

Then senior year approached, and I suddenly thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you decided to leave everything you were comfortable with to get a Masters degree in England?” It was probably meant to be just a daydream, but my brain took it seriously, and before I knew it the question became less hypothetical. On Saint Patrick’s Day I received the email from University College London offering me a place on their Publishing Studies course.

Now I am in my third week of classes, and I have to say that getting here was half of the battle. I never realized how spoon fed my life had been. I’ve applied for schools before, but not to a place where I couldn’t call with questions. I’ve had to find housing, but never without a network of people helping me in the search. I’ve done paperwork, but I’ve never been forced to play “bureaucratic jump rope” like I did to get my Visa.

My courses are like nothing I’ve experienced before.

I’ve gone from writing critical analyses for grades to writing blog posts for prizes. Each class is jammed with all 62 Publishing Studies students, meaning the pressure to network and know everyone, as well as to stand out, is on. Next term, I’ll be required to intern at one of London’s 300+ publishing houses, meaning I have to study the industry, go to workshops, and watch social media like a hawk. Gone are the strictly theoretical discussions of my undergraduate days.

I don’t say all this to scare anyone thinking of getting a Masters, abroad or not. In fact, I have never felt so passionate about my choice as I do today. I tell you all this to explain that this experience has made me really want what I was chasing after.

Not everyone needs to get a Masters to do well in their job. However, for someone like me, who needs to be thrown completely out of their element to grow, it might be the only way to reach their full potential.

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