career decisions / Exams / Job market

So you didn’t get the degree you wanted…

You have finally finished University – the rest of your life beckons. You should be fired up with excitement but your results weren’t quite what you’d hoped. Instead of getting that magic 2.1 you’ve got the dreaded 2.2.  Or maybe even a third.

Don't PanicOK stop right there! Getting a lower classification may feel like end of the world but it isn’t. Yes, you need to stop and take stock of your situation, but it’s certainly not all over. Now is the time to start thinking about plan B. And if that doesn’t work you have to move on to plan C!  Flexibility and resilience are key to future career success, so start as you mean to go on. 

What to do next:

You can’t hide away, this will not go away so let’s meet the challenge head on and consider your next steps:

Which wayThere are options open to you. It may feel as though the 2:1 threshold restricts your access to many of the UK graduate schemes, but this is by no means all. We have a comprehensive list on our website of companies prepared to accept a 2.2 use it. If closing dates have passed you can apply for them in the next graduate recruitment cycle. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it will give you time to re-group and re-energise before you start the job application process.

Appealing: Is it even possible to appeal your final degree classification? You will need to look carefully at the precise regulations to see if there is any chance that you may have grounds. Here at Warwick an appeal is possible only in extremely restricted circumstances.  Even if you think you do have grounds for appeal don’t assume that it will be successful. Talk through your options with your personal tutor. Act quickly, be hopeful but stay realistic.

Do you have a conditional offer for a job?  If so, ring the company and let them know the situation. There may be room for manoeuvre, if you really impressed at interview they may choose to affirm the job offer. Some organisations deal with cases on their individual merits, whereas others operate a blanket policy of “no 2:1, no offer”. You won’t know until you try, so ring now and make your case.

Businessman chooses  SME, Small and Medium Enterprise on the touch screen network connections.Think small or smaller! Don’t get caught up in the media hype and assume graduate schemes mean ‘graduate jobs’. The big recruiters represent just a tiny slice of the graduate market. Some of the main players have strong brand and high campus visibility, but there are plenty of great opportunities within the Small to Medium sector. And the really good news is that many of the smaller companies will operate more flexible entry requirements.

Speak to someone in careers. Book an appointment to talk your options over with a Careers Consultant or Careers Project Officer. We are impartial (which may not be as true of parents and friends) and view things from a neutral perspective. It might help to bounce some ideas around, safe in the knowledge anything you say is entirely confidential. Don’t worry if you live outside the local area: we offer Skype and telephone appointments and are here throughout the summer.

Postgraduate study is great but because you enjoy the subject not just as a means of ‘compensating’ for your degree classification. Postgraduate study is a worthwhile option, but as part of a considered career plan. It isn’t something you should consider as a default measure, and you will struggle to convince prospective employers of the benefits when it comes to future applications. Do your research and gather all the information before making a final decision.

Get yourself ‘job ready’ by updating your CV and plugging any potential gaps. Consider how well your CV highlights your skills – both soft and technical. Consider what your selling points as an employee are.

All is not lost

Man waving at the centre of a circular hedge maze in an English gardenIt is important to remember that there are many Warwick alumni who gained a 2.2 (or less) who are now working with successful careers.  Your class of degree doesn’t define who you are and after a few years at work it ceases to become important.  Increasingly companies are looking beyond a 2.1 and we do keep a list of those companies for you to consider. What matters more is the experience you have had in the workplace, what you have achieved, what you learn from this and how you use this to develop and more forward in your career.

Try to put all of this into perspective: remember, this is the beginning – it is not the end – of your career, not by a long way. By all means be disappointed, but you need to accept it and move on. Start thinking about your online brand and build a professional profile that reflects your career aspirations.  Can you join any professional associations (if you have a sector in mind). These often arrange networking events and are a great source of insider information.

Your hopes of working for a particular company may have been dashed in the short-term, but with time and some experience behind you there’s every chance of applying again (perhaps for a better role!) at some point in the future.


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