Mark Armitage is a Careers Consultant at the Career Zone on the Streatham Campus. In this post he gives some practical advice for those of you who are not sure what career you would like to pursue.
As careers consultants, we often meet students at different stages, who are still wrestling with the big question.”What do you want to do?”. This dilemma is one which refuses to go away despite Olympic levels of procrastination, so where to start?
The first year is a great place to begin your Future Script, the perplexing challenge of envisaging your existence as an Exeter graduate. Some degrees such as Engineering and Law have well defined career paths, but you should never be constrained by your subject. It is estimated that 70% of graduate jobs are open to any discipline.
There are many theories about how we make career choices but most agree that it does not happen overnight, but is a process combining education, experience and self understanding with a knowledge of graduate opportunities. Employers love Exeter students but look for a range of experiences in a CV that show the skills they seek. They expect you to be motivated with an affinity for the job role and organisation.
There are many factors to consider, money, jobs, values, subject preferences, skills and qualities. One formula could be the use of the DOTS model, best explained as SODiT, as follows.
S = Self: Knowing yourself is not as self indulgent as you might imagine but a useful tool for understanding “what makes you itch”, motivation, values, skills and qualities .You are progressing to a place where you reflect and project what you can offer to employment and further study.
O = Opportunity: There are many opportunities for Exeter graduates but some are more obvious than others. Large recruiters in manufacturing, law and finance all battle for your attention while other areas such as media and charities have more hidden opportunities, expecting you to seek them out, network and build relevant experience. Use the sectors on the careers website as a starting point. Relevant postgraduate study is also an option.
D= Decisions: This is the difficult bit and all the more so without plenty of S&O forethought. The earlier stages provide the basis for understanding your own potential and what is out there. Make informed decisions about jobs and study that you can justify and articulate.
T=Transition: This is not some traumatic metamorphosis but a journey from your degree to the next stage of job or further study. This builds on the other stages but requires its’ own skill set of networking, CV’s/applications, interviews and assessment. These skills are also essential to developing your later career.
You are not alone in this process. Careers consultants are available to see students individually. The idea is to help you explore possibilities, research information and make the decisions which are best for you. As you move forward to that dream job, we can also support and inform the transition process. You will not need a big idea to bring to a careers appointment just personal insights and a willingness to engage in some discussion of your future plans.
You can find sector information and more resources on the Career Research section of the Career Zone website.