Katy Edwards, one of our student bloggers, takes a look at a career issue we can all relate to: where to start and how to choose….
As I started my second year at Warwick, with friends going to interviews, organising work experience placements and summer internships, and using foreign phrases such as ‘graduate scheme’, ‘career progression’, and ‘five year plan’, I realised it was time to start considering my own options. Yet doing so was a supremely daunting prospect given that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do career-wise. So for those of you who find yourself in this same predicament, here are some suggestions to get you started.
Ask the right questions
If you can, start by considering some broad questions about ideally what you want and don’t want from your chosen career. Developing some self-awareness of your expectations can help to immediately discount some career paths, or open up others you hadn’t considered. For example, I’d previously done some work experience with a firm of accountants, and from that had decided that accountancy was not my calling!
Let the computer take the strain
The graduate careers website Prospects has a career planner programme that identifies what jobs (might…) suit you based on your scaled answers to a series of questions on your skills, motivations and desires. Would you like to work in a busy, fast-paced environment? Would you like to make a positive contribution to society? The result is a more tailored list of career ideas that fit your aspirations, and provides information on what the job entails, salary expectations, entry requirements and career development. TARGETjobs offers a similar career planner which even incorporates some practice aptitude tests. However, it’s important to remember that these programs do not offer an exhaustive list of jobs so don’t panic if inspiration doesn’t hit. I found that the jobs on my list that interested me all fell within a broader employment sector, which helped narrow down options and direct my attention.
You might find this short film useful too…
What do other people do?
Seeing where other people who have read the same degree at Warwick have ended up might also help to provide some career inspiration. The Graduate Employment Market Statistics provide a selection of the job titles, employers and industries of those who have recently left Warwick, as well as the geographical region they’ve found employment in. Although the GEMS information is a snapshot in time – as it records graduates’ ‘status’ six months after leaving university – it can still help you spot patterns and trends in career choice/pathways. And possibly highlight some career areas you’d not considered!
You will need to do some leg work….
Once you have some careers ideas, even if you don’t have a specific job in mind, undertaking some research might help. Doing so will give you an idea of how the job market is looking, who the big employers are, what graduate schemes are available, a general idea of what the interview process might look like, and what experience you might require, as well as providing more information on the skill-set you’ll need to demonstrate. Have a look at trends within broader job sectors, as well as for specific jobs. The number of careers and job related sites is pretty overwhelming, but I’ve found the following to be pretty good. You might enjoy some of the interesting anecdotal information too:
- Student Careers & Skills – for a general overview
- TARGETjobs – particularly the career sectors and employer insights
- TheJobCrowd – lots of insider info about employers and job sectors
- Inside Buzz – the career advice section is worth a look
- icould and CareerPlayer – a wide selection of film clips as well as general hints and tips
Utilising social media in your quest for a job might prove fruitful. Following, liking and linking with companies, individuals or recruitment firms will let you know what’s going on in the industry, the types of jobs available, and could be helpful for networking and obtaining work experience opportunities. There are an awful lot of careers sites out there, but here are some that I think give a pretty good start:
Taking a trek to University House to chat to a careers consultant might also help you to explore your career options. They can point you in the right direction and provide you with information and advice, and remind you that most students are in the same boat!
And don’t panic!
It’s important to remember though that the jobs market is always changing and evolving. It has been suggested that the top ten in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004, so there are new opportunities on the horizon. While I definitely don’t have a ‘five year plan’ in place, or a fixed idea of what I want to do when I graduate, tentatively exploring what the options are has given me some ideas to consider. Of course, if there’s anything that I’ve learned it’s that there’s still time to find out exactly what I want to do, so there’s no need for anxiety if you’re not certain. Good luck!