How to use university as a tool to decide your career pathway

You may not know what you want to do after university straight away, but there are ways to help you along the journey. Find out more here!
Kim Connor Streich
Kim Connor Streich

This post was written by an external contributor.  Megan Ritchie reveals how you can plan for your future career at university. 

There’s no denying that university can be rather overwhelming at times. You’re studying on the degree programme you applied for, you accepted your place, and off you went. But where do you go from there? How are you expected to know what you want to do for the rest of your life? Whilst going to university is the starting point for many that know what they want to do, many arrive – having selected their degree based on their interest and academic strengths – and still have no idea. But guess what? That’s totally fine.

We need to change the way we look at university. Yes, you’ve made the first step in studying for a degree, but that doesn’t mean you should have the rest of your career pathway mapped out. It’s about time we saw university as an opportunity for experimenting with our interests and talents to develop our potential career pathways. You just need to know how to do it effectively.

Get all the experience you can

career pathway

University is the ideal time to try out some different roles in various areas before you commit to a career. Not only is work experience a great addition to your CV, but it can give you an insight into different industries. Events like these can give you a better idea of what you would like to do in the future.

Whether it’s a voluntary role, an internship, or a placement as a part of your degree, all these opportunities can help you to make a fully-informed decision. Vacancies can be found through your university careers service, and through online resources such as our job search page. If you need some further inspiration, check out our guides to all things careers and information here on internships you can get with any degree.

Attend events and make contacts

career pathway

Attending careers events is an ideal way to get a broad overview of several different industries. From here, you can tailor your work experience searches to sectors you have taken an interest in. Events are also a great way to network and make contacts for the future. Networking can seem a daunting prospect if you haven’t done it before, so be sure to check out our top tips.

Another great way to make contacts is by creating a LinkedIn profile. With this, you can network with employees and employers, search for vacancies, and reach out to individuals that work in your sector of interest to ask for advice and tips on making it in the industry.

Try something new and get involved

career pathway

University is a great place to immerse yourself in new opportunities and try something new. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. It’s ideal to do this as soon as you start university. By the time you’re in your final year, you might have even made it to the top. For instance, you could be on a committee or have an important role within your Student Union.

Remember, it’s never too late to try something new at university. Get behind a cause you support, write for your student media, join a society – get involved in any way that takes your interest. Not only will it build your confidence and give you something to enjoy outside of your studies, but it might help you figure out where you want your career pathway to take you.

Stay calm

career pathway

It’s a crucial time for figuring out what you want to do, and you’ll feel pressure from all sides – from yourself, from your university, and maybe even from your family. But remember, the only person that can shape your future is you. Take every opportunity you can to put yourself in the best position possible for when you leave university.

You aren’t expected to know what you want to do when you start your degree. Use your time wisely during university to stand yourself in good stead for when it comes to finding a job. Enjoy discovering new interests, experimenting with your strengths, and breathe!

If you need any further inspiration or information, check out other articles here on Debut, including what to do when career options get overwhelming, and how to decide what industry to work in.

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