Making a career decision can be a challenging process. For many students approaching their finals it may be the first time they have started to consider what to do with their degree. Ojinika Efobi graduated from Warwick Law School in 2018 and in her current role on the NGDP (the local government management scheme), she is a policy and project officer within a Health and Social Care Integration team. Here she describes what influenced her career planning.
Knowing what to do with your degree can be very daunting. My advice falls under four main parts; know thyself, try out different things, think in abundance and finally, trust the process
‘Knowing yourself’ has become the go to cliché for many of life’s big questions. However, as with many clichés, there is usually a lot of wisdom and truth to them. ‘What should I do with my life?’, ‘What should I do with my degree?’, ‘Should I become a consultant or qualify as a human rights lawyer?’ ‘Should I start my own business or work in a small charity?’ Whilst we have gotten into the habit of people telling us what to do, these answers can really only come from ourselves.
To start, I would accept that there are no ‘shoulds’ (despite what people might say!). Working in a big commercial law firm does not automatically make you a money hungry capitalist and working for a small charity equally doesn’t make you Mother Theresa. If we are really lucky, our work should reflect our personal goals, values and strengths.
Through my law degree I learnt that I enjoyed picking apart processes and governance structures. Interestingly a lot of my work now is learning the governance of different public sector institutions and seeing how we can streamline our processes. Making note of what you enjoy, what you are good at, and what you would like to develop is a good start in figuring out what you want to do with your degree. Remember there is no right or wrong!
Try out different things
It may seem obvious but one great way of knowing what you like is by trying out different things! University is the prime place to do this from choosing your modules, to joining societies, applying for formal work experience etc. During my time at university I was a publicity officer, ‘Nightliner’, tutor, advocate, paralegal, events officer and a belly dancer. From Nightline I learnt I wanted to do work which was meaningful to people’s lives. From tutoring I figured out that I didn’t want to work with small children! University allows you the opportunity to try out a range of career options with low risk. Follow your interest, you may be surprised by what you find.
Think in abundance
Life is full of twists and turns and jobs you have no idea exist yet. How do you find these hidden careers? In my experience, it is by doing things that are meaningful to you and following the opportunities that come from it. This means networking, asking questions, talking to your career advisors and tutors. I spent 5 years volunteering at my local hospital radio on health and well-being issues, my current placement on the graduate scheme is in Health and Social Care integration. I followed my interests and was able to find work which aligned with it. Similarly, when I started Nightline in my first year I did not think I would be supporting the recommissioning of Children’s mental health services in Surrey!
Trust the process
A lot of this advice only works if you trust the often difficult process! You are a lot more capable, resilient and intelligent than you think. Rejections aren’t because you are incapable, but perhaps because that role wasn’t a good fit. Where you are now is not where you will remain if you are open and learn from each experience!
Whilst these tips may seem ‘fluffy’ I truly believe they are fundamental in finding meaningful work. Following this, the obvious guidance of researching opportunities, networking, asking questions, working hard and doing work experience still remains true! Best of luck