Four hard years of work, late-night library sessions and a couple of hungover seminars thrown in for good measure… but now what? If the end of your degree is approaching and you haven’t a clue what you want to do with the rest of your life, don’t panic.
So many students will be in the same boat as you, and despite what you might think, there are literally loads of graduate opportunities out there for people like you. Many industries don’t require a degree in a specific subject; they’re more interested in certain skills you have, and how you can apply what you have learnt to the job at hand.
So if you don’t have a set career path, sit back, relax and take a gander through these graduate jobs you can go for, no matter what degree you have.
PR and Marketing
PR and Marketing is all about effective communication, and graduates from a range of degree subjects can excel at this. Being successful in this industry is all about thinking outside the box and coming up with unique ideas, so it’s often better to come from a non-marketing background in order to really break away from the norm.
Most marketing firms are looking for someone with a distinctive personality and lots of ideas to bring to the table. So if you’re brimming with creativity, and have a strong commercial awareness, then you might want to consider a career in PR and Marketing.
You might think that the last thing you want to do after 15 years of education is to head straight back into the classroom. But teaching is an incredibly rewarding industry, and if you like working with children and young people in a very hands on and interactive role, then this could be just for you.
Without a teaching degree, you can either go on to do postgraduate study in education or enrol on Teach First, a graduate scheme in which you work in schools in low-income areas, learning on the job and earning money at the same time. Although you should be prepared for long hours, seeing your pupils go on to achieve their goals and succeed is a incredibly rewarding feeling.
Most people think you need to have studied Law at university to go on to have a career in the industry but this isn’t true at all. Every year hundreds of students take the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), a conversion course that catches you up to speed with Law graduates and will allow you to go on to further study and get a place on a law firm graduate scheme.
In fact, many law firms actually prefer students with a wider range of skills, such as those with a STEM or Language degree. There’s definitely no need to be put off by thinking you’re not qualified enough. Go along to a law firm open day to get a flavour for the industry and the kind of work you could be doing.
Working at a startup business is an incredibly exciting experience and a fast-learning curve. Obviously roles will vary widely depending on the nature of the business, but often they’re looking for adaptable people who are able to get stuck in with a variety of tasks.
It takes a lot of gruelling groundwork to get a business up and running, so they want passionate, dedicated graduates who are dependable and creative. You’ll often be at the cutting edge of whatever industry your startup falls under, and it’s incredibly exciting to tread new territory every single day.
Although a Journalism or Media degree will certainly be helpful when pursuing a career in this industry, it’s also not essential. Getting started in Journalism is all about hands-on work experience, an impressive writing portfolio and having some strong connections in the industry. Sometimes it also helps to have an unusual degree subject to create a niche for yourself. For example, if you have a STEM degree you could specialise in science journalism.
If you’re passionate about world affairs, holding those in power to account and directing public discourse on topical issues, then Journalism could be perfect for you. Just remember that it’s a tough industry to crack and very competitive, often involving long hours and low pay. But you could be involved in some fascinating work, sometimes even changing the course of history – and there’s not many jobs that can say that.
Think you have the management and leaderships skills needed to run an efficient retail establishment? Although you can do a degree in retail, most companies aren’t particularly concerned about you having a specific degree, they just want you to have the previous work experience to prove your competency in retail and ensuring customer satisfaction.
Although you can do a degree in Human Resources, most companies are more concerned about you having the necessary people and management skills to succeed. In Human Resources, you’ll be working within a company to help manage the work force; this can involve helping to find new talent, providing training for current staff members, organising promotions and dealing with any complaints or issues that arise within the organisation.
In Human Resources you could be working within a huge range of industries, from charities to huge corporate multi-nationals, so you’ll be able to pick a workplace culture which suits you best.
To get on to the Civil Service fast stream you often don’t need a degree in any particular subject. They might specify a minimum of a 2:2 or 2:1, but it’s up to you to impress them in your application form and the online tests they provide. There are 15 different schemes you can enrol on, ranging from statistics, finance and diplomacy, and some are more competitive than others.
However, all involve a well structured training scheme that will help you develop your skills and progress through the organisation. The Civil Service is often ranked in the top 5 on The Times Top 100 graduate employers, and will provide a stable and steady career path. However, adaptability and flexibility are must-have skills, as you’ll often be expected to take on different roles and projects as government priorities change.
No, you don’t need a degree in Accountancy to get a graduate job in this area. Some of The Big Four aren’t particularly concerned about what degree you have. In some cases they also don’t mind if you have less than a 2:1. They’re much more interested in your skills, and will ask you to undergo a rigorous application process before accepting you on to a graduate scheme. But you’ll be rewarded with an impressive starting salary and rapid career advancement if you’re dedicated.
Fancy yourself as an Intelligence Agent at MI5 or MI6? There’s no denying that these are super competitive industries to get yourself on, so don’t get your heart set on becoming the next James Bond just yet. Luckily the subject of your degree is not one of the things they are particularly concerned about. There’ll be a whole host of rigorous tests to pass, and they’ll have to be certain of your reliability before you’re accepted.
Creativity is the key here, so as long as you can bring that to the table, the degree you have is largely irrelevant. Advertising is all about the battle for attention, so if you have the ground breaking ideas that will help the brand stand out from the crowd, they’ll want you on board.
Start your own business
Of course, if none of these take your fancy, why not try setting up your own business? If you have a unique idea that you think has commercial viability, you could go about seeking some investment to get it off the ground. It takes some serious hard work and dedication to succeed in establishing your own business, but being your own boss and pursuing something you’re truly passionate about equals great job satisfaction.
When should you start applying for graduate jobs?
In all honesty, most of these jobs are available all year-round, so it’s worth keeping an eye out from whenever you’re willing to start working. However, a good portion of the multinational companies have their applications going live around Autumn (with many other roles starting around this time as well), so that’s definitely something to keep in mind!