Why your degree doesn’t have to dictate your career choice

Choosing your careerLife isn’t always that straightforward, and nor should it be. I congratulate people who manage to map out their entire career by the age of 17, but a great many people are not in that position.

They go to university; they get their qualification before eventually discovering that this is not the area where they want to work for the rest of their lives.

Part of my job involves interviewing graduate employees for profiles in our gradireland sector guides and directory. The interviewees are highly recommended by their companies as they have made excellent impacts since they were employed.

And this year there has been a trend: many of the people I’ve interviewed have a primary degree that doesn’t match their current job title.

One of the teachers I talked to did an MSc in Ecology with the intention of working in that area. A gap year teaching English as a foreign language, however, and she was bitten by the teaching bug. She did a PGCE Programme and is now a Science teacher in a secondary school in England.

Another teacher left a multinational organisation to change careers. She believed her previous life experience gave her a more ‘mature and different perspective’. Conversely, another woman left teaching to become a management consultant, because she wanted to have more variety in her work. She pointed out how helpful her teaching experience was for her current career. As regards the application process she advised that ‘you can identify transferable skills that can help you stand out from other applicants’.

My final example is of a man who wanted to be a teacher or a journalist, so he did an Arts degree, majoring in English and Philosophy. Once again, it was travel that altered his perception; managing a bar in the US for a time convinced him that management would be his ideal job.

Like many people with Arts degrees, he was able to apply for a postgrad course totally unrelated to his previous four years study. He did an MA in Management and was able to get a place on a graduate employee scheme. Not only that, but he believed his Philosophy and English background gave him a ‘more relaxed, rounded attitude than people whose grounding was entirely in business,’ in effect making him stand out from other applicants.

It is important, therefore, not to worry if things haven’t worked out in your chosen field. Identify transferable skills, be confident in your own ability and things might just turn out better than you expected.

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One Comment on “Why your degree doesn’t have to dictate your career choice”

  1. Beverly says:

    I think it’s really important considering how tough the job market is lately to be incredibly picky over the industry you go into, but it could actually serve you well to be open minded. Think about what appeals to you, what you want from a job, and have a look at the industries that suit this lifestyle.


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