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Why it's okay to choose a career that isn't your degree

By Ester Merja
Book open Reading time: 3 mins

“Open to all degree subjects”: True or False?   

“Lab-coats don’t suit me” is what I say when people ask me why I’m not pursuing a career related to Biology, the subject that I’m currently studying at University.  

First of all I’d like to say that this is not the typical article written by a senior HR employee at some big firm offering grad schemes and internships. I am a third year Biology student at the University of York who, despite loving everything Biology, doesn’t want to pursue a career in the scientific field. 

In this article I will walk you through: 

  • How I realised Biology was not the career for me
  • Why I didn't freak out thinking I wasted 3 years of my life
  • How I proved myself to be just as skilled as any business, finance or economics student.

I realised Biology was not for me during my second year at University, when I noticed that waiting long incubation periods, just like sectioning flies in a laboratory, was not my favourite way to spend the day. Some friends of mine had told me that I would be a good fit for financial services so I decided to look into that field a bit more. I really enjoyed reading about finance and the latest news in the world of business so I thought: why not?  

Second term of my second year at University I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in strategy and financial consulting and, more than ever, I was determined to pursue that career. 

I did a lot of research and read articles and books, but I soon realised that I wanted to get some first hand experience. That is when I started attending networking events and applying to a variety of internships and graduate schemes.  

Being completely honest, at the beginning I was very sceptical because I thought that my degree subject would put employers off as soon as they looked at my CV. Many applications later, one day, on LinkedIn, I received a message from the person that is now my mentor.  

A series of CV checks, interviews, assessment centres later I had an internship and was on track for a couple of grad schemes. How? I forced myself to build my own personal brand. In this new scenario Biology is not my weakness, instead it is my strength. 

Problem solving, data analysis, accuracy, communication skills, I learnt it all through Biology and it turns out to be very appealing to financial services and consultancies. University is a life-changing experience that teaches you how to be an adult and stand on your own feet, and I made the most of this opportunity. 

To everyone struggling to understand what they want to do after University, to everyone stressing because they haven’t got their dream- job offer yet and finally to all the students panicking for their upcoming interview: the best advice I can give you is to be confident in your capabilities and to take opportunities as they come. We can learn from our mistakes but not from our regrets.