"Oh, you study English! So you want to be an English teacher then?"
This is a massive misconception and common question that every English student will receive, not once but probably after meeting any new person that asks you what you study at uni. You then reply bluntly in a deflated, monotone voice “No, I do not want to be teacher…”
According to a study by a careers website, Career Builder, 47 percent of university-educated workers said their first graduate job was outside of their field.
The preconception that you are only studying a subject to get a career in that field not only follows English students but a lot of other students who do not study vocational courses. Yeah, of course, there are people that have go down specific avenues to and study exactly what they want have as a career. But there are also people that will study their passion or interest. There are also people that change their minds during their degrees; it might be a lot more boring than they thought or they’ve simply lost interest in the subject so chose to not follow it anymore.
A degree isn’t a key that opens only one door, it’s a key that opens the doors you want it to open.
Use your degree to get what you want out of it. In this post, I will share some thoughts on ways that my degree helped me get a job even though it doesn’t explicitly relate to my current job.
Transferable skills is an obvious thing. However, this is something that I hear a lot in interviews but it is said as a stereotypical ‘buzzword’, just something because you have to relate it.
Make it more tightly related and use examples. For instance;
“I have good communication skills. My degree at uni really helped me develop and become more aware of my communication skills as I wrote an essay on a topic that had to show that I completely understood the area. I had to relay the information back in a clear and concise manner. I also did a presentation in front of a large group of people so I have learnt to ensure that my voice is loud and clear to make sure nothing is lost in translation”
As opposed to:
“I have good communication skills because I had to write loads of essays and do presentations at uni”
Think about the other things you have learned like:
Time management – How did you learn it? How can you apply it to the role you are interviewing for?
Dealing with stress and pressure – How do you overcome it and deal with it?
Organisation – Being able to manage loads of stuff at once like lectures, sport, work, societies and whatever else you had going on. How do you organise?
Self-discipline – Doing what you needed to get done without mum and dad nagging you
Conflict and resolution – Dealing with problems and solving them. Having disagreements but resolving issues and compromising
Compassion – Learning to get on with and understanding different people
Adult stuff – budgeting, bills, TAKING RESPONSIBILITY!
There are obviously so many more things but ALWAYS remember to make them relevant and use examples!
And although you might have learned all these things at uni, you don’t have to explicitly say they were just from your uni experience. Ultimately, you have learned this stuff from there and you can now use it in the real world.
However, don’t use uni for all of your examples – you’ll sound boring and like you don’t want to move on from the good old days of late starts, getting drunk and late nights.
It’s okay to not go into a career that is directly related to your degree but don’t let it go to waste, you would have learned so much more than the academic content during your degree, so don’t be afraid to talk about it if it's relevant.
Feel free to also leave any more ideas in the comments!
All the best with your job search!!