What can I do with my degree?

During these unusual times, entering the labour market is becoming more difficult. In this blog, CLL’s Senior Careers Consultant, Chris Manley, discusses what you can do with your degree and what past students have gone on to do since leaving CLL

Since I am a careers consultant, it might intrigue you to learn that I am not particularly fond of the question ‘What can I do with my degree?’ I don’t mean that I think it’s irrelevant or pointless. It is an important question, particularly if you are on a course where the answer is less clear. So do ask! But I often wonder whether the answer to this question gives a false sense of reassurance, as though career choice can simply be made by looking at a list of where previous graduates from your course have gone and choosing one of the things on it. It can be really helpful to get an idea of the sorts of things which are popular with previous graduates from your course. But it is isn’t the most important thing to think about, and here’s why:

  • The significant majority of graduate employers take graduates from any subject. So that means you can choose most things if you want to. Employers will look at the university (and they like Warwick a lot) and the degree classification (the higher the degree classification you get, the more options you have – but that’s not at all the same thing as suggesting that a lower degree classification isn’t worth having) as an indication that you will be fine with the intellectual demands of the job, but in many cases the detail of what you have studied is of less interest to them.
  • Employers want skills as well as qualifications. Now here is some good news – evidence of many of the skills employers want can be taken from all areas of life. So imagine an employer wants – and they often do – evidence of time management skills. A 20-year-old Finalist will mention essay deadlines and active involvement in a society. And that’s often enough. But if a mature student is not only meeting essay deadlines and having time for active involvement in something else (sports, a social club, or a faith community, for example) AND getting four children dressed and breakfasted and ready for school every morning and to various events after school at weekends AND holding down a little part-time job – who has the strongest evidence of time-management skills? As well as time management skills, graduate employers most often ask for skills in problem-solving, team-working, communication with a range of people, and able to work effectively even when things get busy. Any evidence you have of those is highly likely to be attractive to a graduate employer.
  • There are other considerations too. How do you most like to work? What are your values? – is there anything your work must do, or must avoid doing? How important is the pay? Or the amount of time you are likely to have away from work? What practical considerations are there? – if there is a lengthy or expensive period of additional training required, is this something which you are able or willing to do, and are there any alternative ways to get in?

Knowing what graduates from your course have done can be a valuable way to get some ideas going – but think too about your skills and these other considerations. You may end up going down a route which is unusual, but absolutely right for you.

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