Careers: Some of the Questions, All of the Answers

It’s finally happened: your blogger is heading for the Twilight Home for Retired Careers Consultants and, from the dim recesses of her memory, she has pulled the most frequent career dilemmas.  Here’s how to show them who’s boss.

I don’t know what I want to do.

See here, shipmates, this is not a legal requirement of obtaining a degree.  There are usually many paths you could take, so no wonder some amongst you are dazed and confused.  There is a school of thought that says people find their career by “happenstance” i.e. they fall into it by accident.  Call me a cynic, but I think this tends to occur when you know your skills and you put yourself in the right place at the right time.  In other words, opportunity awareness.  What’s important is to stop procrastinating and start researching because careers consultants no longer sprinkle fairy dust to come up with a customised career for the clueless.  Yes, we can help and that’s our raison d’etre (look it up) but the input, imagination and energy need to come from you as well.  It’s often about perspiration rather than inspiration.

I DO know what I want to do, but I don’t want to do it all my life.

No worries.  We reckon that today’s graduates will have (at least) three distinct careers in their working lives. That’s careers as in entirely different occupations, not a trio of related jobs – you’re likely to have many, many of those.  And you may end up very far from where you began: the start line is a long way from the finish (about 50 years if this government has its way) and a lot can happen en route.

I’ve got a 2.2.

Welcome to a very big club. And you shall go to the ball, Cinderella. People with 2.2s DO get jobs.  Shock, horror.  And they progress from there.  It’s just that getting that initial foot in the door may take longer, be less straightforward or even plain harder than for those with academic laurels.  But after that the playing field is level and you can zip ahead of the opposition. And no-one will ever ask you about your class of degree again.  Ever.  Promise.

Will a Master’s get me a better job?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Like everything else it’s down to a whole lotta variables. It won’t always compensate for a 2.2 if that’s your cunning plan (you see – I know the way your minds work). And it’s not a good method of deferring a career decision.  Yes, it’ll buy you time, but at a cost – have you seen the price of tuition fees? And without the requisite work experience it may propel you no further forward. See here: the only good reason to do a Master’s is enthusiasm for the subject.

The only way you are going to crack these predicaments – and more of same – is by getting some objective advice. Come down to the Careers Centre: I won’t be there, but my colleagues will – and they’ll see you bang to rights.

So that’s it.  Time, as Shakespeare observed, to trudge, pack and be gone.  Like retirement, graduation and the years leading up to it, is what Peter Pan called an Awfully Big Adventure.  And a bit scary at times.  But I know that the Mile End Brigade will soar into the stratosphere with just a little bit of help from my friends.  As Peter Pan (him again) said – “First star on the left and straight on till morning.”

Take care, be happy.  I wish you all well.

Gill Sharp

(now retired) Careers Consultant, Careers & Enterprise Centre

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