Some people come to university because they are very clear about their career goals. Many others find it very difficult to decide what they want to do for their future. There are always chances in life to return to education and to take further programmes. Training is also offered through some jobs. Not everyone wants to spend more time and money on re-training if they could have planned their route better the first time around.
It can save a lot of time and expense to give thought to your future earlier rather than later even if it seems hard to know where to begin.
Whether or not you are clear what job you want, you can move forward by thinking about the wider questions that should influence your choice.
Visit the Careers Advisory Service early in your time at university. Don’t wait until they invite you for interview. They are usually very pleased to see students early - before they make the wrong choices for the careers they want.
Careers Services have specialist staff, a wide range of materials about different careers and jobs, labour market information to help you identify gaps in the market and much, much more.
If you need a job while you are a student, there may even be a job-shop run by your service. They usually have access to a wide range of job services on line and through local contacts with employers. There may be special projects or courses run at the university or in the local community that the Careers Service can tell you about.
In some universities, Careers Services offer training in useful skills – or can refer you to someone who can. Some invite local employers or those in professional occupations to give talks about different jobs or what employers are looking for in graduates.
Careers Advisory Services are usually interested in helping you to plan towards your future life rather than directing you to a particular job. They will have many resources for helping you to narrow down the kinds of work that might suit you.
In addition, Careers services can give you advice on aspects of applying for jobs, such as writing CVs, interview practice, and going to assessment centres.
Bear in mind that there will be many graduates going for some jobs. Give some thought to how you will stand out.
If you are on a course that offers subsidiary subjects or optional modules or units, you may wish to choose your options from a career perspective. Alternatively, you may want to choose options that broaden your personal interests as a welcome change from your main subject. Remember: too much variety can be difficult to manage as you need to learn the conventions and background knowledge for the different subjects you take. A little variety can be really useful. It opens up new opportunities and gives you new perspectives on your main subject or on life in general.
Download our table and jot down options that are available at your university that you could take to help you to achieve your goals.
Graduates generally have more employment opportunities and earn more than non-graduates. However, to get the job you want at an early stage in your career, a degree may not be enough. When you go for interview employers may be looking for a wide range of skills and experience. In particular, employers tend to prefer applicants who:
Some programmes now build opportunities for developing such skills into the main curriculum. If so, it is worth keeping good records of the skills you develop. It is also useful to consider the opportunities for developing these skills outside the curriculum.
Download and use this form to record your own extra-curricular activities.
Although it is important to spend time thinking about your academic subjects and your career objectives, sometimes the bigger questions that will really affect you can get left out. For example:
Download this table and write out your long term goals to focus yourself.