Should your choice of university or degree subject define your career?

You’ve finished your degree, congratulations! Now you find yourself thinking, and friends and family asking, ‘what’s next?’

After 3 years (or maybe more) of hard studying, you’re starting to think about stepping into the “real” world, the working world, but not all degree subjects point to an obvious career choice. Unsurprisingly, not all philosophy graduates go on to become professional philosophers and a music degree doesn’t always lead to becoming a worldwide superstar. Maybe you’re simply not interested in building your career in your degree subject area. The question remains the same, ‘what’s next?’

Before you start enrolling on another degree course at a more prestigious university or apply for a master’s simply because you don’t know what else to do, consider the facts:

  • Less than 20% of employers graduate job listings even specify an area of study and even fewer require a degree in a specific subject.
  • Britain’s top 100 private and public employers targeted more people from the universities of Nottingham and Manchester (24th and 25th in The Times’ Good University Guide respectively) than they did from Cambridge and Oxford (1st and 2nd).

There’s hope of a successful career away from your choice of degree and university after all. Think about it from an employer’s perspective; it’s more important that you’ve done something rather than where you’ve done it.

Whilst studying for your degree, regardless of the subject, there’s plenty of transferable skills you will have gained and developed. Here are a few examples:

  • Teamwork: Joining societies and taking part in group projects for your course. You may even have held senior positions in societies/groups thus enhancing your leadership skills.
  • Communication: Through giving presentations and joining in discussions in seminars, you will have learnt how to verbally communicate your ideas effectively. When writing your essays and dissertation you will have learnt to logically structure your ideas and effectively communicate them in a written format.
  • Time management: Remember that stressful period at the end of the academic year when all of your deadlines came at once and you had to plan your days in order to get everything in on time? Here’s where your time management skills will have been put to the test. Your ability to work under pressure probably rapidly improved too.
  • Research skills: All those hours spent trawling through journal articles and reading through books to find information for your essays or dissertation were worth it. They enhanced your ability to pick out relevant information and ability to research.

So if you don’t want to forge a career in the area that you studied in, think carefully about what you’d really like to do and how the skills gained during your degree can work for you in that environment. Remember, when it comes to picking your degree subject pick something you enjoy and then work hard for your degree. But you don’t have to let your choice of university or the subject you study define your career. Think about all the skills you have gained through completing your degree because it is these that will open doors  for you and hopefully lead you into that dream job.

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