Fulfilling my career ambitions with RGU’s free online upskilling courses

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We are offering a range of fully-funded online upskilling short courses to help with your career ambitions. Emma Corse studied through four of these courses to switch industry and shares her positive experience in this blog.


As I ponder the end of my “current” student journey with RGU, I was delighted to be asked to share a little bit about my experience this year. At 34, it’s been well over a decade since I last studied and graduated in 2011 with MA in International Relations and Legal Studies. I’ve been lucky to have worked for the same employer since 2008, completely unrelated to my degree! However, after Covid and having my second child, I was ready for a new challenge.

Taking action to change my career path

Trying to leave one sector for another was challenging. Whilst I had good transferable skills, I lacked knowledge of any other sectors. I also faced disappointments before, always being told that I don’t have enough experience of a specific sector.

On top of this, I wasn’t an “engineer”, or a “lawyer”, or have a “real” vocation, so I felt up against it. I had considered going back to university before, but there was no way I could give up a job to study on campus, and quite honestly I didn’t really know what I would study anyway!

I was lucky enough to apply for, and get a secondment into the Energy sector in January 2023, I was delighted and threw myself into my new role. It was invigorating and I was determined to look for a permanent change. I knew it would still be a challenge though, and I also knew I was lacking in knowledge.

When I saw the suite of Upskilling courses being advertised by RGU, I felt it was the right time to dip my toe in and see how I got on! There were so many I was interested in, and I applied for a few in the hope I’d be successful in getting a place on one. In the end, and after a second application around, I ended up with offers for four courses, and the opportunity to start in earnest to work towards a flexible MSC.

Studying a range of upskilling courses online

In all honesty, it has been tough. And despite being kindly warned by the wonderful admissions team, it was, indeed, a lot to take on in such a short space of time! However, I was committed and determined, and the course timings and the fact the courses were offered online with the opportunity to study at my own pace, meant it was doable.

I’d listen to lectures on my commute, or whilst running, reviewing notes when I had a spare half an hour, and spent many an afternoon and evening watching my eldest at gymnastics and studying at the same time, trying to make the most of the time I had, and to minimise the impact on family life. 

The assessments were spread out and the criteria for each one was clearly communicated, so it helped make completing the work less daunting. It still took time to get used to studying again and working through assessments, what was expected, and of course the Harvard Referencing! I was finding studying far easier though than I had as a teenager, and loved the applicability of what I was studying to my new role.

Sometimes, I still had moments of complete lack of self-confidence that I couldn’t complete the courses, particularly two Engineering ones. I hadn’t studied maths or physics since 2005 and 2006, and had battled through at School. I never understood why I needed to learn pages of equations (I do not have a photographic memory), or why trigonometry would be relevant in the “real world”.

However, successfully passing the first of the courses (second course assessment grade awaited…wish me luck!) was one of my proudest moments, and there were genuine tears. I know it doesn’t make me an engineer, but it’s given me the optimism and confidence, that you really can achieve anything you put your mind to, and most importantly for me, that I can be a positive influence on my young girls.

I can genuinely encourage them into STEM subjects, with tangible real life applications, and prove to them that even Mummy can do it! It’s already rubbing off; the confidence and enthusiasm the upskilling, plus my new role, has given me comes home. My eldest loves hydrogen, and worked out that instead of wind, a turbine could use water to generate electricity! She’s only 8!

The benefits of upskilling at RGU

It’s been hard work in amongst the juggle that is life, and although I don’t know if I’ve passed my last course, hopefully I’ll have achieved 60 credits towards an MSc. It’s something I thought would never happen, or I would have the opportunity to do.

I’d encourage anyone who is thinking about it to sign up to a short course, whether as a stand alone, or with the hope of working towards something bigger. The personal gain for me has been massive and contributed to me being successful in finding a permanent position in the Energy industry.

It is intimidating, but the online platform and the way the courses are designed really helps. Everything was together in one place, and easily accessible, and course forums were a great way to communicate with staff and fellow students, often abating the need for a “HELP” email!

I’m glad it’s the summer and my assessments are over. It’s definitely time for a little break. But I’m 99.9% sure I will be back to work with RGU to continue my upskilling journey.

For anyone considering this, my take home really is that anything is possible! However, the support and encouragement I’ve had has really been what has made this possible, from my colleagues at my new employer, to the staff at RGU (special thanks to Sarah Hillyear and Ibiye Iyalla!) and of course my amazing family, Andrew, Olivia and Elsie, who have put up with me (and the tears when I’d thought I’d lost my final essay!).

Emma Corse


We are currently offering a range of fully-funded online upskilling short courses. To be eligible for funding, you need to be domiciled in Scotland and have no restrictions on how long you can stay here. Find out more on the RGU website: RGU Upskilling.


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