Many students enter their degree convinced that the field it will open to them is exactly the one that they wish to work in, which makes sense, you wouldn’t purposefully choose a degree that will lead you to an industry you have no interest in.
However, university is a huge learning curve, not just in terms of academia but in life too. You may find that the industry related to your degree just isn’t what you had hoped, and now you’re finishing a degree that you’re unsure you even want to use.
Don’t worry if this is the case for you, so many degrees have far more than just one option for you to pursue following graduation. Even if none of the career paths that you have worked towards seem appealing, remember that your degree will have supplied you with invaluable transferable skills that you can use to get into a new industry. You may have to work a little harder to get there, demonstrating why you’d be right for your desired industry, regardless of graduating in another.
So what can you do to get into a new industry?
Keep your options open
In some circumstances, and especially within particular industries, employers aren’t too concerned about the subject or content of your degree, they simply request that you are educated to degree level. These types of jobs may be perfect for you, if you have an interest of course.
Employers sometimes like entry-level employees to hold a degree simply because it shows commitment and that you can truly apply yourself to something. Completing a degree in itself is a major achievement, between three and five years of solid work and effort really shows that you’re a self-motivator and are happy to learn new skills.
So while you’re pursuing a different industry to the one you graduated in, make sure you keep an open mind, looking for jobs that are open widely, but of course that it is something you would feel happy and fulfilled doing.
Intern / Volunteer
Okay, I know you were predicting this one, and dreading hearing it too. We completely understand that working for free after putting so much effort into your degree isn’t the ideal option, and it certainly isn’t sustainable.
But if you’ve just finished university and you really don’t want to go into the related field of your degree, then getting some experience in other fields will help you hugely. Think about it this way, upon leaving university it’s likely you’re moving back home with parents, or already share a home with a supportive partner.
Take this time, where you have little to no ties, to get some experience in a field you’re interested in. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy period, maybe just a couple of weeks to a couple of months, to showcase to potential employers that you’re serious about getting into a job in that field.
You’ll not only get some experience behind your belt, but you’ll also begin to grow a network of connections that are an active part of your desired industry. This can help you with future opportunities, particularly if you leave a good impression.
Don’t be afraid to hang on to a part-time job for a short while and rack up some intern and volunteer experience.
Secure a temporary position
If interning/volunteering really isn’t an option for you and you require an income to support yourself, then you could aim to get a job related to your degree, temporarily. It’s important to remember that the job you find yourself in directly after graduating does not mean that this is your ‘forever’ career.
The first job you get after graduating can simply be a stepping-stone, unless of course you find that you love it and wish to progress. If you secure a job in a field related to your degree, you can then begin to figure out how you can pursue a different industry without the stress and worry of having no regular income.
Granted, you’ll have less time to do it, but there are so many options available, such as night courses, short intern roles that you can undergo during annual leave, part-time postgraduate courses, and even just applying for other jobs putting your best foot forward with the skills you have already and are continuing to gain.
This also prevents a gap forming in your CV, which can often be a concern to prospective employers when reviewing applicants.
Just like a part-time job working in retail, hospitality or wherever else, if you’re happy to see this role as a means to an end, then don’t fear that you’ll get stuck. Stay focussed, remember your end-goal and work hard to gain any experience. It’s always easier to get a new job when you’re already in one.
Work for yourself
This option isn’t for everybody, and it certainly isn’t the easy route. But if you’re determined to work within a particular discipline and you feel you have the skills, motivation and persistence necessary to self-start your career, then go for it.
There are many fields where you can work as a freelancer, working from home and determining your own hours. This can be a hard slog, though and you really have to apply yourself to it. It can be easy to lose motivation when you’re working alone as opposed to in a thriving environment of other busy professionals.
It can also be difficult to pursue freelance work, but there are some great sites and tools out there to help you get started. Upwork is a freelance job site that various companies and individuals upload to when they require a piece of work completing. Some of these are one-off pieces and others are temporary stints of weeks or months.
Another great tool is Fiverr. This site works much in the same way as Upwork, but the jobs tend to be more one-offs than jobs of a certain period of time. You’re able to negotiate rates with the person that has uploaded the job, so be sure that what they’re offering is going to be worth your time. This is a competitive place, with thousands of freelancers applying to any one opportunity, but it’s a great place to start.
Freelancing can also help you to gain relevant experience in your desired field, which you can then go on to use to help you secure a role with an employer in this industry.
If freelancing doesn’t seem right for you, but you know you’d like to work for yourself, then starting your own business could be something to consider. Again, this isn’t an easy task and you need to be prepared to do a lot of planning, budgeting and likely, failing before you succeed. If you’re determined enough and feel you can keep yourself going through tough times, then there are some great ways to get started, such as the use of a start-up loan or a graduate loan.
The use of mentors is also a great way to guide you through creating your own business model, so don’t be afraid to reach out to those who have done it before you. As a graduate, you will now form part of an alumni, so use this to your advantage and speak with as many people as you can who are currently where you’d like to be.
Plan your next step instead of planning your whole future
It’s difficult, but don’t get bogged down with trying to plan the rest of your entire life. Work out where you would like to be next, not in ten years time. It’s okay to think about the future, but don’t let it determine your every move. Remember to remain in the present, and that what you are doing now isn’t what you’re doing forever.
Try to be content with the fact that you’re just figuring things out and give yourself a bit of a break, take some time to really think about where you might like to go next. If you don’t want to enter a field related to your degree, but you aren’t sure which field you might like to work in, then this is your time to explore. You will have some spare time now you’re not studying hard, so take up that hobby you’d always wanted to try, do a little bit of travelling, and just take a step back to think.
A great way to decide where you want to be in terms of work is to have a rough idea in your mind of where you’d like to live, do you want to move to a new city? Are you happy where you are? Think about what your ideal starting income would be, is it achievable? Are you interested in working typical workday hours within an office, or would you like to do something a little more flexible? Would you like to work for yourself, doing freelance work or starting your own business?
All of these thoughts will help you to determine a starting point for your career. Begin to plan small steps to get to your vision of the very near future.
Try not to feel too overwhelmed by the future and your career, there is always time and if you’re not where you’d like to be straightaway, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen for you. If you’re worried, get in touch with the Salford University Careers Service for some advice and guidance.