So, What Do I Do Now?

July 13, 2020

A-levels, check. University, check. Now what? 

So, you have graduated University, what now? If you’re anything like me, you’ve gone through the education system, each step of the way gaining those qualifications to put on your C.V, but now have no idea what to do next. It used to be that people would choose a career path straight out of School or University, and stick to it for the majority, if not all of their working life. Instead, we now live in a world of choices. Career Planner have curated a list of over 12,000 different careers, and it’s inevitable that the list doesn’t end there.[1] How are you supposed to choose a career for life when our interests and needs from a career are constantly evolving?

Much like how when you walk into a shop to buy a simple product, say an apple, you are greeted with a variety of different types of apples, some even look exactly the same, but are promising a better taste than the other – they’re all going to fulfil your need for an apple regardless. There will also be apples you’ve never even heard of before and had no idea they existed. The same can be said for careers.

"Apply for any job that sounds interesting, whether you’re *qualified* or not..."
My Mother and I on the day of my Graduation at The University of Sheffield

Some people are born with an innate knowledge of the career they want to dedicate their lives to, which is brilliant (although I’ll admit I have always envied their level of certainty). Despite this, according to Career Change Statistics, the average person will change career 5-7 times during their life.[2] Having had a short stint in recruitment, I can confidently say there is a strong value in hiring someone who has either tried their hand at a few different things, or has worked in a variety of sectors, industries, and working environments:

  • It’s like a try before you buy. It demonstrates to an employer that you know exactly where your passion and career ambitions lie because you have learnt what does or doesn’t suit you from your previous roles.
  • You discover the working environment that suits you, which may not always be what you initially envisaged.
  • Each career you have, you gain invaluable experience for your next role, even if it seems completely irrelevant. (As a waitress when I was 18, I had no idea having to memorise the entire menu back to front would turn out to be a very useful skill later on in life. Mainly when I forget my shopping list, but oh well!)
  • You will work with a multitude of different people, who you will learn from both professionally and personally. Having a strong network is indispensable.

In the latest report from the Office for National Statistics, there were 14 million graduates in the UK in July to September 2017.[3] The days where you obtain a degree simply for a specific career, or to standout from the crowd, are long gone. It gets harder every year to secure your first graduate opportunity as it’s a candidate rich market. For the most part, it now seems a degree levels the playing field. This is not true across the board of course, in2017/18 there were 376,000 apprenticeship starts in England, although I must mention that this was 119,000 fewer than the previous academic year.[4]  

Out of those 14 million graduates in 2017, it is reasonable to presume that many of them are no longer working in the same role. Moreover, they wouldn’t have had jobs lined up straight out of University either, so if you don’t then that’s completely fine. There was an enormous amount of pressure during my final year; my soul aim was to complete my degree before dedicating any time to my career or post university life. I guess what I am trying to say, is that if you have recently graduated, are soon to graduate, or even not a graduate at all, it’s okay to not know exactly where your future career lies. The truth of the matter is, you may begin a career that suits you and that you enjoy now, but later on down the line it’s suitability or enjoyability might change.

"How are you supposed to choose a career for life when our interests and needs from a career are constantly evolving?"

Since graduating in 2019, I’ve already had 4 different jobs; first I was an Exam Marker, then a Recruiter, and then supported a small local business during the Christmas period before settling into where I am currently. Even now I have worn several different hats in the company I’m with, from Website Designer and Content Creator, to Client Services Administrator and Finance Assistant. If you are unsure of your career path then that’s fantastic, the world is your oyster. My advice would be to apply for any job that sounds interesting, whether you’re *qualified*or not, because I’ll let you in on a little secret from my time in recruitment, it’s not necessarily your experience that gets you hired, but your ambition and passion. You can be passionate about your career without yet knowing exactly what that career is.

By Phoebe Blair

[1]  Robinson, Michael T., Career Planner, https://www.careerplanner.com/ListOfCareers.cfm [accessed 03/06/2020].

[2] https://careers-advice-online.com/career-change-statistics.html [accessed 03/06/2020].

[3] Clegg, Richard, Office For National Statistics, https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/graduatesintheuklabourmarket/2017 [accessed 03/06/2020].

[4] Powell, Andy, Foley,Niamh, House of Commons Library, https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn06113/?doing_wp_cron=1591184506.0159571170806884765625 [accessed 03/06/2020].

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