If you went to university straight from college, you can be forgiven for not knowing exactly what you wanted to do for your future career. Chances are, you picked a course based on a subject you enjoyed and now that you’ve finished it, you may be regretting your decision and want to change direction.
If this is you, don’t panic. Your degree subject choice does not need to dictate your career path. If you took a science degree, you do not have to be a scientist; if you took a politics degree, you do not necessarily have to work in policy.
34% of the UK working population have a degree. Therefore, you are already ahead of 66% of the population when it comes to bagging a graduate job. Many recruiters ask for graduates because of the general skills they will have gained while studying towards a degree, rather than the specific skills they will have learnt. Doing a degree teaches you valuable skills like the ability to work independently, manage your time and workload, meet deadlines and show commitment. It also determines that you have the capacity to produce work at a certain level. Regardless of your degree subject, providing you have achieved a good grade, you can demonstrate all of these things.
In addition to these skills, your degree will be more versatile than you think. You will have learnt some very specific skills but in doing so, you will have gained others that you may not even realise. Let’s take a science degree as an example. A science graduate will have learnt some very specific laboratory skills that may not feel very useful if they decide not to be a scientist. However, in doing so, they will have demonstrated logical thinking, analytical skills and will have developed excellent problem solving abilities that can be utilised in a different context.
Many students with a science degree go into careers in research analysis, sales, PR or use their degree as a foundation and take up a career such as teaching in their field or becoming a scientific writer.
Think of the Skills Gained
Focus on the skills you have learnt indirectly while pursuing your degree. Each course lent itself to different skills. Did your course require you to deliver presentations which developed your communication skills? Was your course very logical and required analytical thinking? Was it a creative course? Thinking about the skills you gained will help you identify possible career choices.
Consider a Trainee Role
Many professions require extra learning after obtaining a degree. Very often, these offer trainee roles with entry requirements stating a degree without being subject specific. Accountancy, marketing and HR are examples of professions offering traineeships which in many cases don’t ask for a specific degree subject but focus instead on skills acquired.
Consider Furthering Your Education
It may be that in order for you to proceed in your chosen career, you need to undertake further academic study to hone your skills. This does not mean that your degree is wasted because in order for you to do a Master’s degree or something similar, you will need to have a degree or equivalent.
Gain Some Work Experience
If your degree is not in the subject area of the job you are interested in, you need to make even more certain that you have something that makes you stand out against other applicants. Consider gaining some work experience in your chosen industry. Whether it is paid, or unpaid, relevant work experience goes a long way.
by Nicola Vivian