Many of you will be doing your dissertation right now (or have done one already) and might be wondering how to make it work for your applications. Thankfully, your dissertation will give you a whole set of skills and assets that will be attractive to employers. Listed here are just a small selection of the qualities you can develop by doing a dissertation, and how they relate to working in the real world.
One thing that everyone has to do for their dissertation is research. This is a very important skill to have in the working world. Good research skills mean that you know what is and isn’t relevant to a project, and that you know how to apply information effectively to meet your needs.
You should also apply your research skills when looking for a job. Employers look for people that are knowledgeable about the company and the industry, as this means you may have more innovative and informed ideas about how to move forward. This also shows a dedication to the company and industry, which is also very attractive to employers.
Problem solving can be a bit of a buzz term, but it’s so much more than that: it shows that you have initiative, you’re adaptable, and that you have critical thinking skills.
If you can show an employer an obstacle you came across during your dissertation and then demonstrate how you overcame that (and possibly what you’d do differently), then they will be able to see how you will react to issues that arise during your employment.
For instance, if you found your argument didn’t quite work and you had to reassess your methods, then that shows you know when to change your tactics and that you have the self-awareness to understand when you’re pursuing the wrong outcome.
Employers want to know that you can concisely communicate ideas and information, whether this is on paper or in person.
Writing a dissertation demonstrates that you can take a set of complex arguments and write them up in a way that is both understandable and convincing. This is something that will relate to all parts of your career, from report writing to persuading colleagues, employees, or managers of what the best course of action for the company is too.
Likewise, if you’ve done a dissertation you’ve probably discussed your ideas with your academic advisor, tutor, course mates, and others. If you can show you’ve taken advice from these people about your dissertation, then employers will know that you can be a team player and respect the opinions of others.
This may not be the case for everyone, but sometimes your dissertation topic will be on something that can be a starting point for your career and/or further study.
You can use your dissertation as a case study for your knowledge of the industry or work that you’re interested in pursuing after your course, and to show that you have a good sense of the kinds of issues that might arise when you’re in the job.
A lot of companies request that you have numerical skills, so if you’ve dealt with large sets of data for your dissertation then you can unequivocally prove this.
Not only that, but if you’ve been using a software package like SPSS for your data analysis you can show that you also have strong computer skills and have data analysis experience. Don’t forget about programmes like Microsoft Excel too: if you know your way around a pivot table, make sure this is clear!
Calm under pressure
If you’ve managed to complete a large piece of work like a dissertation, then you can probably manage a company project. Completing your dissertation means that you can work under pressure and stay calm while managing multiple deadlines.
Whether or not you were in the library at 4am sobbing into your notes the day before it due is irrelevant: you completed a large project once, and so that shows you can absolutely do it again!
As mentioned briefly above, if you’ve managed completing a large piece of work like a dissertation, then you can manage a project at work. However this is more than just meeting deadlines and staying focused under pressure.
Project management is shorthand for a huge range of skills, including time management, working alone, team work, communication, and perseverance. If you can break down your project management skills into these individual abilities, and show how you have used them, then you will stand out to employers who will then know you know what they’re looking for.