Student Weekly Tips: Thinking about what you want to do after your degree

It’s time for you to start thinking about what you want to do after your degree! Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet, the trusty student team are here with their tips and experiences on where to start, finding experience, and things to do if you are staying in Manchester over holiday.

two person standing on grey tiles with shoes on and text ‘passion led us here’
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Where do you start?

“I tend to start by having a think about companies or places that I love the values of and align my values. There are also plenty of exercises you can do looking at your career and jobs aligning with your values. This can be very helpful if you’re not sure specifically what you may want to gain experience in but also to have a more detached approach to reduce pressure and expectations of yourself as well as being open to opportunities that may come your way. In terms of listing specific places, a mindmap, Trello board and your CV can all be good starting points to think about what you already have done and where you would like to go next.” — Rachel, Fashion Management and Marketing

white and black one way signs
Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

“As an undergraduate it is a good idea to have a think about whether you would like to continue studying as a postgraduate, or would rather join a company. One of the best ways to find out if postgraduate study is something you would like to pursue is to ask students at Uni who are studying at that level (e.g. Master’s or PhD). Especially in research it is also interesting to hear about the career paths of postdocs and professors. This gives you a broad range of understanding what types of careers there are. To get a better feel for what companies are like, career days are quite useful too.” — Isabella, Materials Science & Engineering

“If your ideal job was a Venn diagram, the roles that would suit you most would likely lie in the intersection of what sort of tasks you enjoy doing (linked to the skills you enjoy using), and what you’re good at. The company culture and values are also important but this is not something you can gauge easily from the outset, so it’s something that would only be worth considering further down the line. Have a think about what industries you may be interested in, if you don’t already have an idea in mind linked to the motivation for studying your degree subject. For example, maybe you want to explore a career in marketing or science communication. If this feels like a step too far, start by reflecting on your life thus far. What interested you in school? What have you always been drawn towards? What gave you a strong sense of satisfaction? Perhaps ask your family and friends for their honest opinions on your strengths and weaknesses, and what sort of career they can see you in — they may even have contacts who can help.” — Olivia, Psychology

Finding experience

“LinkedIn is promoted quite a lot at the University and it really is a good place to look for work experience. I managed to get 2 weeks work experience at a fashion brand in London which was a great experience for me to gain more of an insight in a commercial environment…as well as helping me to realize I did not want to do my placement year in London. I sent a professional but succinct message to one of the head buyers/designers and they put me in touch with the person who could organise some time for me. Similarly, speculatively emailing round companies with your CV and covering email can be so helpful to find the ‘hidden’ opportunities. And the worst thing that happens? They say no and you have still developed networking skills and practise. The Careers Connect page with the University is also a really helpful page to find temporary work experience opportunities (of which there is also a scheme to get some work experience at the University too). Similarly, discussing ideas with the Careers Service is always helpful. If you are considering doing a Masters or PhD in the future, they can provide some support around this and help you with things you may need to consider or could boost your potential in successfully getting PhD opportunities later on.” — Rachel, Fashion Management and Marketing

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

“If you are graduating this year and know that you want to stay in Manchester but are not sure what you want to do after you have finished your degree, I would definitely recommend having a look at the University’s Manchester Graduate Talent programme. Through this you can apply for jobs and paid internships at the University or businesses based in Greater Manchester, covering lots of different sectors and types of roles. These roles are perfect post-degree jobs and give you really valuable experience and the opportunity to find out what kind of roles you enjoy and the career you might want to pursue. The MGT programme will be opening in March 22 and opportunities will be posted from then until September. What’s also great is that the MGT is open to graduates from both the current and previous graduate cohorts, so if you decide to take some time out after you have graduated this year you will still have the opportunity to apply for MGT roles in 2023.” — Lily, History

“If you want to explore a career in a certain industry but don’t have any relevant experience, it can be harder to get your foot in the door. Voluntary opportunities can help here and the Careers service portal is a good starting point. Being willing to develop your skills through sourcing your own opportunities shows your determination and commitment, as well as providing helpful contacts. Also, if you don’t have one already, make sure to create a LinkedIn profile and put what you’re seeking in your ‘headline’ (e.g. Psychology undergraduate seeks entry-level digital marketing role). Ideally, you want to proactively reach out to potential employers but occasionally, people will get in touch with you (seemingly out of the blue!), sometimes to offer roles. If someone requests to connect with you to ask for your help on something legitimate, give your time generously and offer them help with no expectation of anything in return. Doing something just for the sake of helping someone is nice in and of itself, often the people asking are more than willing to reciprocate by giving career advice and even job opportunities.” — Olivia, Psychology

Getting a head start on career planning

“At the moment, I’m looking at what it is that I enjoy in university and from extracurriculars to guide when exploring different career options. I found looking at other people’s LinkedIn pages and trying to speak with them and learn about their career journeys has helped me narrow down what I might pursue after this degree. Use your lectures, any career fairs or events to get an idea of the different options and follow up on the areas that interest you.” — Fatima, Materials

Man holding book on empty road
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Whilst some people go into their degrees knowing exactly what careers they want to have once they graduate, it’s also completely normal to not know what you want to do once you’ve finished your degree. It’s also important to remember that even once you have finished you don’t have to know exactly how you want your career to go, for most people it takes trying different types of jobs and gaining experience to decide what suits them. However, whilst you are at University, there are valuable opportunities to learn about what kind of jobs and careers are out there through the Careers Service or events put on by your School, such as presentations by previous alumni about what careers they have developed from their degrees. It is really beneficial to gain as much information as you can throughout your degree so you can think about what your first steps might be after you graduate, but also remember not to put too much pressure on yourself over your future career and instead focus on what kind of role you are likely to enjoy!” — Lily, History

“If you know what sort of area you would like to work in, it can be worthwhile scouring job descriptions of roles you’re interested in to see what experience employers are asking for. Look over your CV or think back over your career and see if there are any gaps or if there is any particular knowledge you’re missing. For example, certain IT roles may require working knowledge of databases or SQL. Then plan how you can address those skills gaps, perhaps through online resources or courses.” — Olivia, Psychology

How to use your holiday to think about your long-term goals

person relaxing in empty office
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“Whilst is it always good to have some activities to think about what you aspire to, making time for proper rest after exams and coursework is just as important…and can be just as productive, both for the near and far future. If you’re planning on staying in Manchester, there are so many places to wander around the City Centre and suburbs to let your mind wander too. Castlefield bowl in mid-late April to the beginning of September is always a great open place to sit by the canals. Visiting parks in the suburbs such as Fletcher Moss in Didsbury, Heaton Park in Prestwich and if you want to go further out, places like Tatton Park in Knutsford and the Peak District are all beautiful places.” — Rachel, Fashion Management and Marketing

“Staying in Manchester over Summer or not got any plans? Check out our other tips on hidden gems in manchester (scroll to the last section of the blog), Making Use of the Career Service and Thinking about Careers. and our latest tips on Internships, Part-time work, CVs, and Interviews— Salma, Politics and International Relations

That was this week’s weekly tips by the Library Student Team. We hope you find them helpful!

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Ran by the Student Team and recent graduates to provide personalised support for current students

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