Doing a degree only to realise that a career in what you’re studying isn’t for you can be daunting. And though it might feel like things have been a waste of time, remember that uni is a big learning curve that throws all kinds of challenges at you – including questions about your future career path.
So, what can you do when you’re about to finish a degree that you might not end up using? First of all: don’t stress. Realising you and your degree-related career are no longer a match isn’t the existential crisis you’ve made it out to be.
The good news is that many degrees give you a strong set of transferable skills that can open doors to different opportunities – whether they’re in an area related to your degree or not.
If you’ve decided a degree-related job isn’t for you, here are some valuable things you can do to prepare for the world of work.
Even if the field is no longer right for you, having a degree on your CV is still a good look. In certain sectors, employers simply request you have a degree, regardless of the subject or content of it.
That’s because having a degree in your employment arsenal shows your commitment. Whatever you studied, putting in three to five years of hard work is a major achievement, and shows you’re self-motivated, eager to learn new skills and have experience completing projects to deadlines.
Show off the skills you earned in your degree by keeping an open mind and looking for jobs that you’d be happy to pursue. And remember, don’t be disheartened – you made it this far and you should be proud of yourself for that!
Even if you don’t need experience, you’ll still need to show employers that you’ve done your research, you understand the role and that you’re a good fit. Read up on the industry and keep up to date with developments, changes and issues that are affecting the sector.
Remember: knowledge is power. Doing your research beforehand can be a big boost of confidence when it’s time to start attending interviews.
We know working for free isn’t the most attractive option, but hear us out. Before you kick start your career, or while you’re completing your degree, getting some experience in a new field that you’re interested in can be a real help.
Internships by their nature aren’t very long, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months, but by securing and completing them, it shows potential employers that you’ve earned experience in an area you’re interested in. Plus, it’ll give you a whole network of people that are part of this new industry, and you never know what kind of future opportunities it’ll open you up to either.
It always helps to have a strong network of friends, family, course mates and connections on LinkedIn to see if any of them have experience in a field you’d like to pursue. If you can arrange to talk to them, use it as a way to gain some insights into the industry, their specific role, what employees are looking for, and ways in which you can make your application stand out.
If interning is out of the question and you’re in need of money, then you could always get a temporary role in something that’s related to your degree. This way, you’ll have a regular income which can keep you afloat while you look for something in an industry you find more appealing.
Pursuing this route means you’ll leapfrog those dreaded CV gaps which are so often a concern of prospective employers when viewing applications. And keep in mind, it’s always easier to get a new job when you already have one.
If you started university knowing exactly what you wanted to do after graduating, then it might be tough to not think about the future. But what’s important is that you plan your next step rather than focusing on a ten-year plan; what you’re doing right now isn’t ideal, but it’s not forever.
Remind yourself that you’re figuring things out, give yourself a much-needed break, and take some time to think about what you need to do next. If you aren’t sure what field you want to work in, now’s the time to explore your options.
You could start by asking yourself a few questions and writing down your answers. For example, do you want to move to a new city or are you happy where you are? What would your ideal starting salary look like? Would you prefer typical office hours or do you like the flexibility of freelancing? Maybe you’d like to start your own business?
Answering these questions will give you a starting point with which to begin your career journey, whatever it is you see yourself doing.
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