As an English Literature graduate, I know just how frustrating it can be when you’re asked “What are you going to use that degree for? Are you going to be a poet?” As much as it might be fun to channel my inner Shakespeare, no, I am not going to write sonnets for a living. Sometimes people find it hard to grasp that your degree subject doesn’t have to be directly related to the career that you go on to pursue.
Because as an Arts and Humanities student there are a whole host of career paths open to you that, while not directly utilising the knowledge you gain during your degree, will put your skills, creativity and passion to good use. Yes, there are the obvious options. You could stay in academia to become a lecturer or researcher, or you could teach your subject at primary or secondary school level. But don’t feel like you have to follow the conventional route that you’re led to believe is the only option.
There are plenty of recruiters looking for graduates with the skills gained from a creative, social orientated degree. In fact, research has shown that 60% of the UK’s leaders have Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences degrees, while 16% have STEM degrees. There are hundreds of doors out there waiting for you, you just have to choose which one to open.
Become a spy
No, you don’t have to go to spy school to become the next James Bond. You can apply to become an Intelligence Officer at MI5 or an Operational Officer at MI6, working on the front line to protect the country from threats ranging from terrorism to cyber attacks. Although many roles are data driven and may require more technical degrees, a lot of the front line officer roles require little more than a 2:2 degree or some equivalent work experience.
They’re much more concerned with your personal skills – your ability to read people, make quick decisions, work under pressure and maintain confidentiality. The work is often intense and challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Just remember you might have to pretend you’re an English teacher to your friends and family. There’s 0 bragging rights as a spy.
Whether you’ve studied History, Politics or English, you’re bound to have developed a knowledge of world leaders and events, so why not use it to report on global affairs? You might have to start at the bottom and work your way up to reach this kind of position, but whether it’s for print, radio or television, there are plenty of opportunities for reporting abroad.
You’ll need to have a good eye for a story, an ability to adapt to different cultures and to problem solve your way through challenging circumstances. But you might get to witness history in the making, and there’s no better feeling than that.
Suit up and be a Lawyer
Posh suits and big bucks, a career in law will pay off in more ways than one. It’s a challenging and competitive profession, but with the potential to work on some big cases with a salary to match.
One big misconception people have is that you need a law degree to become a lawyer – not true. Some big law firms have graduate schemes which will put you through your Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course, or you can take an MA degree to gain these qualifications. It’s a big commitment to make, but one of the most secure and rewarding jobs out there.
Hop on the travel industry
Imagine a job which allows you to be on holiday 24/7… Well, they exist and you could be doing one. The travel industry is huge and there are plenty of opportunities for students with creative degrees to find work (and if you know another language, that’s an extra bonus). Whether you want to become a travel agent, air cabin crew member, tour guide or trip planner, you can go out there and make it happen.
Having specialist knowledge of the culture and language is helpful, but can also be picked up as you go along. The pay often isn’t amazing and is quite seasonal, but if you’re keen to work in foreign climes – and undoubtedly have some amazing travel experiences – then a role in the travel industry could be right up your street.
Try out event organisation
If you’re a people person and are able to deal with anything, from bridezillas to missing wedding cakes, then you might just have what it takes to work in event organisation. You could be organising anything from conferences, weddings, parties or travel excursions, living out your to-do list and mood boards dreams as you plan seamless events for hundreds of guests.
Again, it’s quite a competitive industry and you often have to work freelance, but if you’re dedicated enough and stick at it, it could become your dream career. Strong organisational and time management skills, as well as an emotional intelligence, are crucial skills we all learn on our degrees no matter the discipline, so as an Arts and Humanities student you’ll be well equipped.
So if you’re graduating with an Arts and Humanities degree and you’re not sure what exactly what you want to do in your future career – that’s absolutely fine. With the skills you’ve got you could be the next James Bond or the next Louis Theroux, there’s just no way of knowing.