Career Talk #4: Master Thesis Hunting guide

Did you spend all your time during the career fair in collecting the free goodies? If you did so, don’t do that again. Because there is one more thing those companies can give you – a thesis project. Now that I’ve told you the one thing you don’t have to do, let’s talk about the things I can suggest doing to get a good thesis project. Frankly, it’s a bit of early to be talking about thesis when the second year of studies has just started. But, there are quite a lot of background preparations you’ll need to do if you want to be ready by the time applications begin.

In my experience, the first year of the master’s is a time when mostly we explore the different career tracks we can take; eventually, it’s the second year, when we have to take the big decisions about the direction in which we want to specialise and build your career (At least it’s like this for my master’s programme). So, if you have just started the second year of your masters, now is the time when you need to start finalizing which track you wish to specialize in.

I have a few tips from my personal experience that I would like to share:

Be ready with your CV before the “Thesis season” starts

Ideally, I don’t recommend sending generic CVs with your applications. However, it’s always good to have a draft of your CV which you can change 10-20% to fit every job/thesis you apply for. It could be a great thing if you have your CV ready by the end of September so that when you come across any application you don’t procrastinate it thinking that “this weekend I’ll work on my CV and then send in the application”, and by the time you send your application the company has already hired someone.

Usually, the thesis applications start opening from October and new positions keep coming until December. But I’ve seen that most of the companies finalize their candidates in October.

Career Talk #2: Dos and Dont’s for CV & Cover letter in Sweden 

The right way to approach the career fairs

There are usually two big opportunities to find thesis if you’re an ICT student, the degree project fair at KTH Kista is one good opportunity, where in addition to the universities, many of the internal thesis opportunities from various research groups at KTH are present. The next big opportunity and probably the biggest one is at the career fair – THS Armada. The thing with Armada is that there are around 200 companies present at the fair every year, and the company that might have the ideal thesis for you may not have the most attractive booth and you might miss it because another flashy booth closer to that company is giving free muffins. So the best way is to research the companies in advance and make sure to go and talk to the ones you’ve shortlisted during the two day time, they will not offer you thesis project there, but you may end up getting in touch with someone whom you can call later and talk about possible thesis projects. There are some good features on the smartphone app of Armada (iOS, Android) which let you match yourself with the companies of your interest. Some rare companies also take the on-spot applications, so it’s always a good idea to carry a copy of your CV when you visit the fair.

Many of the companies, which open their thesis positions well before the career fair might already have hired thesis students for many positions by the time of career fair, so it’s always a good idea to keep looking on company websites well in advance if you know your potential employers.

Finding thesis projects online

Career fairs are majorly the places where companies showcase what they offer, however even in those cases the application process has to be done online. And by the time of career fair, not all the companies have announced all the thesis projects. So it would be a good idea to create a job alert in Linkedin for Thesis projects (or exjobbs as they call in Swedish).

So I would suggest keeping an eye on Thesis work positions on LinkedIn from as early as mid-September, but there are still chances that you might miss some postings because you were busy with classes or held up with something else. You can always collaborate with friends in this search process, just tell each other what you are looking for and if you find something that matches their interest, tell them and if they find something they tell you. In my case too, my friend had found a thesis position for me and eventually, I got selected for it.

Various departments and research groups at KTH advertise about the open thesis positions on the KTH degree project portal. If you know any professor is working in the field of your interst, it is better to go and directly talk to them about thesis opportunities.

Found a perfect position for yourself? How not to screw up your chances

If you found a thesis position that matches your interests, then don’t send in an application right away. If the exjobb posting has a contact person mentioned with a phone number and email, the best thing would be to call them first and discuss the scope of the thesis project and ask more about what they are offering and what kind of candidate they are looking for. Then you can prepare an application focusing on your skills that are more relevant for that particular position so that it becomes easy for them to see if you are skilled enough for that work or not.

Usually, after the application deadline, they will either ask you for a telephonic or skype interview or a face to face interview. If you have a choice, always go for a face to face interview.

Got selected for a thesis project? Some tips for you!

Although I am not the most qualified person to give many tips as I am yet to defend my own thesis, I still have some tips for you.

  • Start working on your report from Day 1.
  • Don’t ever think that, at first you have to finish the work and then you will write the report, create the chapters and sections as soon as possible and get in the habit of writing. The most efficient thing to do is to finish the literature study and the first couple of chapters during the first couple of months of your project.
  • Use a reference management tool to make your life easy. Mendeley or Zotero are a couple of good ones.
  • Use LaTeX, MS word is not the best tool to write long reports. You learn a new tool as an added advantage.  You can use Sharelatex or Overleaf  (soon to be merged in a single platform) if you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing tex packages on your laptop.
  • I have a few Thesis report templates for LaTeX and Word, you can access them from here.
  • Read at least 5-10 thesis reports from previous years to get an idea of how to write. KTH has a repository of all the thesis reports you can access it here – KTH Diva.

Possible outline of a thesis report (NOT to be strictly followed, just an example)

  • Title page
    • Title
    • Author
    • Date
    • State where you are doing this work
  • Abstract
    • What is the topic area? (optional)
    • Short problem statement
    • Why was this problem worth an M.Sc. thesis project? (i.e., why is the problem both significant and of a suitable degree of difficulty to be worth an M.Sc.? Why has no one else solved it yet?)
    • How did you solve the problem? What was your method/insight?
    • Results/Conclusions/Consequences/Impact: What are your key results/conclusions? What will others do based upon your results? What can be done now that you have finished – that could not be done before your thesis project was completed?
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
    • Longer problem statement
    • General introduction to the area
  • Background
    • What have others already done?
    • What does a reader (another x student — where x is your study line) need to know to understand your report?
  • Method
    • What are your goals? (What should you be able to do as a result of your solution – which couldn’t be done well before you started?)
    • What are you going to do? Why?
  • Analysis
    • How are you going to evaluate what you have done?
    • Analysis of your data and proposed solution
    • Does this meet the goals which you had when you started?
  • Conclusions
    • Conclusion
      • Did you meet your goals?
      • What insights have you gained?
      • What suggestions can you give to others working in this area?
      • If you had it to do again, what would you have done differently?
    • Future work
      • What have you left undone?
      • What are the next obvious things to be done?
      • What hints can you give to the next person who is going to follow up on your work?
    • Required reflections
  • References
  • Appendix/Appendices (Optional) – one of which might be a list of abbreviations or terms which you use in your report.

Source: Exjobbs associated with Prof. Gerald Q. “Chip” Maguire Jr. (You can find a lot of tips for writing thesis reports on this page)

3 thoughts on “Career Talk #4: Master Thesis Hunting guide

  1. RAM PRAKASH

    Hi Abineet,
    So nicely written for the II Year students who are about to undergo Thesis

    Regards
    Ram Prakash

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