If you didn’t have a specific career path in mind when you applied to university, you probably picked your degree based on what you did best at or enjoyed most in school. Now you’re working towards a degree in biology, philosophy, music, history, business… and you’re wondering what’s next.
James Uffindell, Bright Network CEO & Founder, explains how your academic choices can open more doors than you think.
As James said, the good news is, for a lot of employers your degree subject isn’t important. They’re far more interested in your enthusiasm, intellect and transferrable skills. Here’s a taster of some roles that are open to all:
Banking, accounting and tax graduate schemes always value diversity – humanities, science and arts students bring a lot to the table. You need to have a real interest in business and finance. For investment banking, you’ll ideally start building contacts and experience in your first year.
If you’re a natural leader or organiser, a management training scheme will teach you everything you need to know on the job. Your options span all major companies, as well as the civil service and other public sector organisations. You can also work your way up in any organisation from an entry-level role.
Consultancy trainees start out performing simple tasks for an expert team – and in the process, learn about their business sector in incredible depth. You don’t need specific knowledge to get started, but you do need first class analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
Human resources roles combine law (without the law degree), management (without a management degree), consultancy and people skills. You’ll find routes into the sector in all kinds of commercial graduate schemes.
Many large commercial graduate schemes give you the chance to specialise in marketing. As well as designers and writers, who tend to have specific degrees, marketing involves ideas people and analysts. To succeed you’ll need good business instincts and creativity.
Whatever your discipline, there are options
Many PR professionals start out in research roles – for example, writing briefing materials and providing facts to press releases. Anyone with a degree has already proven their ability to research and process information, so if you’re passionate and a good fit for the organisation your specific subject is irrelevant.
The key to sales is caring about what you’re selling. Were you fascinated by drug trials during your biochemistry degree? Congratulations, you can begin your career with a role as a pharmaceutical rep. So long as you’re passionate, outgoing and commercially savvy you don’t need a business degree to go into sales.
Part specific expertise, part diplomacy, a graduate customer services role is far more than a call centre job. Graduate schemes value people skills, organisation and (often) languages.
Like consultancy, analysing businesses and predicting market movements is mostly about developing expertise in a particular business sector. You need commercial awareness and solid numeracy skills, but it’s not only for people with maths-related degrees. You’ll learn about analyses and mathematical modelling during your graduate scheme.
One of the most effective ways to stand out to leading employers and give yourself the competitive edge among your peers, is with a masters programme from a leading university. Further study not only develops your essential skills but brings you into contact with a network of leading employers, as well as academics working at the cutting edge of your field.
If your dream career needs a degree you don’t have, don’t despair – there may be a conversion course option. Conversion courses let you build on the transferrable skills you gained in your first degree and compress the subject knowledge of another degree into a shorter timescale. Here are some that are especially popular:
The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is a one-year conversion course that puts anyone with a graduate degree in the same position as a law graduate. Once you complete it, you can take up a training contract to qualify as a solicitor, or you can move into barrister training.
A huge number of teachers – particularly in secondary education – get into the profession via the PGCE. The one-year course includes university training and real teaching experience. Usually you’ll qualify to teach subjects related to your undergraduate degree. However, for some in-demand subjects you can take a two year course combining subject knowledge and teacher training.
Medicine is a fast paced, prestigious career that challenges you to constantly build your skills and grow professionally. It's an amazing opportunity to really help people in a hands-on and incredibly rewarding way. As a graduate, you can qualify as a doctor a year earlier than you could by starting from scratch. Depending on the university, you may need to have studied a science subject. Some accept graduates from any discipline.
Industry experience can be much more valuable than subject knowledge. If you have a clear idea of what you want, don’t waste time worrying that your degree isn’t relevant. Instead, search out internships and work experience placements. That’s what will make your CV stand out.