Hear from Serena Castiglione - MA Philanthropic Studies student

What attracted you to the programme?

When I became a fundraiser I really felt the lack of formal training was a big gap. I wanted to know more about the practice and the theory of what we do as fundraisers. I joined so many groups, attended so many training sessions but even after 10 years I really longed for more. I considered a few courses but this stood out because it felt really stimulating but also very supportive.

Which areas of study did you find particularly inspiring?

I loved exploring the current cultural debates on philanthropy, from effective altruism to power shifting theories and practices. Global philanthropy was also fascinating, I felt I could happily spend my life learning more about it.

What sort of support is there for postgraduate students?

Lots more than I expected. I work full time so I found the flexibility of working at my own pace if I could not attend webinars really vital. The lecturers are really responsive and always ready to guide and signpost to services like help with writing skills etc.

How do you find work-life balance with part-time study?

In a word, “tough”! It is definitely manageable and everyone on the course is in the same boat so you get a lot of support and camaraderie in the group. Nonetheless, it is a demanding course so sometimes I have to sacrifice my leisure time to study.

How is your course helping you in shaping your career?

First of all it has given me huge confidence and the knowledge that I can access the latest thinking and resources in any areas of my job through the course. Secondly it has broadened my horizons and given me ideas about areas of specialism I would like to explore next in my career. Finally, the networking also helps so much, I have met brilliant colleagues who have experience and knowledge across so many specialisms and cause areas. We help each other not just around coursework stuff but also with career issues.

How has this course changed you?

I have much more enjoyment in what I do, whether I study or work, because I feel I understand more and feel more capable of handling the complexities of my area of work.

What are your plans for the future?

Not sure to be honest! I would love to continue studying and developing in an area of specialism that can have an influence in our practice in the social impact sector.

Any advice for prospective students?

Just do it! It’s the best choice I have made in my career and one of the top ones in my life so I can only encourage others to join in.

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