Realised your degree subject isn’t for you after all? Don’t sweat – there are heaps of interesting career options you can pursue, regardless of what you studied.
You might think you’re alone in not having a clue what you want to do after graduation, or in deciding your degree subject isn’t what you want to do after all. But don’t worry – this is the reality for thousands of students every year, and it’s totally normal.
It’s worth knowing that research shows people have on average 11.7 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 48, so there are plenty of opportunities to switch it up!
In fact, there are loads of career paths that uni can’t directly prepare you for. Although employers in these fields may look for a degree, they don’t care if you studied Finance or Fine Art – as long as you can demonstrate you have the skills, attitude and extracurricular interests that complement the job.
Here are just a few of the great careers you’re already setting yourself up nicely for, just by having a degree!
Fun trivia: How many graduates start working in jobs that don’t directly relate to the degree subject after uni? Answer at the end!
Advertising starting salary: around £19,000 – £24,000.
A career in the advertising industry can take you in a multitude of different directions, and you definitely don’t need a degree in media or communications to get a foot in the door. Ad agencies look for creativity in candidates, as well as being able to think outside of the box and communicate ideas effectively. Getting into the advertising industry could see you working in a variety of roles from a graduate level. For example, you could take on an Account Executive role, where you’ll be in charge of communicating with clients and keeping them up to date. Or you could be a Junior Producer, and take charge of organising and facilitating campaigns and shoots. Degree grades don’t always matter massively to ad agencies, either. They’re more interested in being able to see that you’re interested in advertising, have good brand awareness and can think creatively. Be aware that an agency may initially offer you a position as a runner if they feel your CV isn’t quite there yet, and these positions pay considerably less than the starting salary mentioned above.
Good choice if you’re… good with interpersonal skills, emotionally intelligent and confident of your own judgement.
Intelligence services starting salary: around £25,000 – £30,000.
Ever thought you could be up to the task of protecting the country against threats to national security? The subject you study isn’t particularly important when trying to land yourself a job with MI5 or MI6. But as the name suggests, you will be expected to demonstrate a high level of intelligence, and a large slice of honesty and integrity. For MI6, you’ll need a 2:1 or above in your subject, but you can apply for MI5 if you get a 2:2. The best part is, both MI5 and MI6 are screaming out for young graduates to apply to their Development Programme – find out more details here.
Good choice if you’re… a clear communicator, enjoy problem-solving and love to socialise/network.
PR and marketing starting salary: around £18,000 – £22,000.
You could be mistaken for thinking you’d need a degree in Media, Communications or Marketing to do this job, but this definitely isn’t the case.In practice, you’ll find that few people who work in PR and Marketing have academic backgrounds in those subjects. The most important skill to have in PR and Marketing is good communication, so if you enjoy writing and find it easy to talk to people you don’t know with confidence, this could be a great option for you – regardless of what you studied.
Civil Service starting salary: around £27,000 – £36,000.
The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated leadership development programme for graduates wanting to work in various government departments and services.The great thing is that this grad program can take you down 24 different career paths, as there are many different roles to choose from (including everything from Human Resources to Diplomacy!). The Civil Service is a great option for people who enjoy variety – as allocated spending constantly changes, you might find you’ll be expected to switch departments entirely at a drop of a hat (from the health to the education department, for example). All you need is a 2:2 to get on to the Fast Stream programme, then you’ll take various tests along the application process. It also doesn’t matter how old you are or how long ago you graduated – as long as you have a degree, you can apply.
Good choice if you’re… a clear communicator, have an empathetic character and confidence in speaking publicly.
Teacher starting salary: £23,720 – £29,664 (depending on where you’re based).
Understandably, the idea of being back in the classroom when you’ve spent most of your life there so far can sound like the worst idea ever, but it’s a rewarding, challenging and fun career – and if that doesn’t convince you, we’re sure the six weeks paid summer holidays will! Teach First is a decent way into teaching if you think you could be interested but aren’t ready to commit to doing another stint of postgraduate training at uni.With Teach First, you sign up to two years of teaching at under-performing schools in England or Wales, receiving full training on the job and get paid along the way. After the two years are up, if you decide it isn’t for you, you can move on to something else (although 70% choose to stay in teaching).
Good choice if you’re… a self-starter who is a good communicator and is excellent at multi-tasking.
HR starting salary: £19,000 – £25,000.
While you can study HR at uni, loads of graduates who end up taking this path have never studied the subject before. Above all, companies looking to hire people in HR are those who have experience managing people. If you’ve been promoted to a leadership position in your part-time job, that’s a big indicator that you’re good at this stuff! Similarly, you’ll need to be a great communicator, and be comfortable being the middle man between senior staff and the rest of a company. A degree of emotional intelligence is important too, as you may need to break news of contract terminations and deal with staff complaints. If you think HR is something you’d be interested in, contact a temping agency and put yourself forward for temp work to get some experience.
Good choice if you’re… a serious self-starter who has good initiative and solid numeracy skills.
Accountant starting salary: around £25,000.
As one of the highest-earning opportunities in the job market (while the average starting salary might not bowl you over, you’ll start earning a lot more pretty quickly), you’re probably surprised to see this one on the list! However, as crazy as this might seem, the ‘big four’ accountancy firms (Deloitte, EY, PWC and KPMG) are quite clear about the fact that they don’t care which subject you studied (some of them don’t care if you got below a 2:1, either!). But this doesn’t mean it’s easy to nab a career in accountancy by any means! You’ll still need to really impress them with your achievements and a banging CV. They then have their own tailored entry tests to find candidates that fit the right profile. Their graduate schemes are some of the most popular in the UK, so competition is fierce.
Good choice if you’re… resilient with sharp attention to detail and good communication skills.
Law starting salary: £18,547 – £20,913.
A lot of people are surprised to learn you don’t necessarily need a degree in Law to become a lawyer. A Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is a conversion course that enables grads from a wide range of subjects to quickly get up to speed on the basics. With a GDL under your belt, you can go on to further study and a place on a law firm graduate scheme. And Law is a seriously lucrative industry, with salaries quickly rising to £50,000 – £100,000 once you’re qualified. It takes a lot of hard work to get there, but if you’re committed enough you could have a hugely successful career and an impressive salary to match.
Good choice if you’re… a self-starter who loves being thrown out of their comfort zone, and is always bursting with ideas.
Startup starting salary: Varies!
Startups are the perfect environment for people who don’t like to be tied into just one role and love to face new challenges almost every day. Although working at a startup can involve any number of positions (some of which you do need a particular degree or training for), there are a lot of roles that won’t require a particular area of study at all. Better still, startups are actually really keen to hear from applicants from different academic and employment backgrounds, as having a diverse set of skills can bring a lot to a small business. Doing a couple of short online courses such as basic HTML coding and Inbound Marketing(both of which you can do for free) will demonstrate you have an interest in how small businesses work, and as such will look pretty impressive on your CV if you’re applying to startups. And if you’re really keen, you could always go one step further and start your own business!
Trivia answer: Only 50% of graduates start working in jobs that directly relate to their degree subject after uni!
So remember, the working world generally cares a lot less about what subject you studied than it does about your work ethic, skills and attempts you’ve made to gain experience in areas that interest you.
Written by: Katie Paterson
Keen to start earning the seriously big bucks? These are the current highest-paying jobs in the UK, and what you need to study to get there.
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