Leaving university can be tough – after years of studying you now have a degree but you might not yet be sure what career you want to go for or how to get started on the right track. To top it all off, you’ve probably got family members asking you what you’re looking to do, as well as the pressure of seeing your friends starting jobs or internships. Below, we’ll look at a few reasons why being unsure of what to do next can be an advantage, giving you the confidence to try out a range of roles leading you to a career that’s right for you.
Your first graduate job doesn’t have to be the same as your career
Many graduates feel that the first job they take will lock them into a career for life, partly due to hearing about the experiences of their parents and older relatives, when long term jobs were much more common. However according to economist Neil Howe, only 5% of us consider our first job what we actually want to do.
This means if you have a career in mind but aren’t sure how to begin, or haven’t found a career you’re interested in yet, don’t be afraid to apply for unrelated jobs initially – chances are you won’t stay in it, with the average person changing jobs more than seven times in their lifetime, a figure that is likely to grow as job-hopping becomes more commonplace.
Broad experiences can help you earn new responsibilities later
Because your first job likely won’t be what you want to do in your career, you shouldn’t be afraid to switch between different roles and industries to find something you like. In fact, job-hopping can actually play to your advantage, as you’ll be learning new skills in each job, giving you a broad range of experience that you can use in future roles.
This is especially useful if you’re applying for roles in small businesses, which frequently require staff to wear many hats, taking part in a range of disciplines such as HR and finance along with their main responsibilities. With some experience in a range of different short term roles earlier in your career, you’ll have an opportunity to show you’ll be able to take on all the required responsibilities without much training, increasing your employment and promotion opportunities later in your career.
You don’t need to find a job relevant to your degree
Did you know that less than a third of graduates take a job relevant to their degree? The fact is that your degree has taught you a variety of transferrable skills which are applicable to a wide range of jobs, no matter if your main area of study was highly specialised. For example you’re likely to be adept at report writing, analysis, problem solving and other widely used skills, no matter what degree you studied.
This is an advantage because there’s actually a broader range of jobs for you than you think, it’s just a case of being able to explain how your experience is relevant. Furthermore, there is no need to worry whether you’ve wasted or not used your degree – it won’t go to waste as you’ll be using the skills you’ve learnt, and you’re still likely to earn more than a non-graduate over the course of your career.
Find a career you enjoy
As we’ve seen, job hopping isn’t something to be afraid of, and a major advantage of not knowing what you want to do next is that you have an opportunity to develop your skills in a range of disciplines while finding a job that’s right for you.
This is exactly what Verity Prentice of Hallmark Care Homes did after graduating with a Journalism Degree. She initially took on a journalist role, however later moved into sales and then recruitment. She found that she missed journalism, but had learnt some very valuable skills on how to sell to difficult clients. This then led her to beginning a career in PR, which allowed her to combine the skills she had learnt at university and from her sales role, while being able to enjoy building relationships with people inside and outside of Hallmark Care Homes to help boost their publicity. Without being willing to try out different roles, she may not have found the career she wanted for the long term.
The most important thing to remember is not to be scared about starting your career on the wrong foot. No matter what your first graduate role is, you’ll be using your skills learnt at university, and you won’t be punished by future employers for changing jobs to find your true calling. Don’t forget that all the experiences you gain, no matter whether they are not directly in the industry you want to work in, will benefit your career, whether by helping you to secure new interviews or internal promotions.