The Layman’s Guide to Careers

Final Year BA Econ Student

Tom Owen - Final Year BA Econ Student

Tom Owen – student blogger

It’s 3.28am. I should be fast asleep at this time but something terrifying is gripping my senses and the worry is stopping me sleeping. In 8 months, regardless of what I wish for, I should be making my way into the world of work, an entirely real and nerve-wracking prospect. It is often said the best way to deal with fear is to confront it. So, throughout this year, I’ll be teaming up with our award winning Careers Service to allow readers to track my journey through the final year of an BA Economics degree.

I’d like to start by stating that I am one of you. Yes, you. The ones who are sat there thinking “I don’t have a clue what I want to do”. I have never been to a careers appointment before. I have never had a set career in mind. I even arrived at university studying Economics through a total lack of decisive action. In other words, I’m a prototypical student and not one of these I’m-involved-in-every-society-and-seem-to-get-great-marks-in-everything people that make you repeatedly question your own ability to get the best graduate jobs. I’m here to show the regular ‘joe’ (or ‘julie’?) can make the most of the Careers Service and make sure we get our money’s worth from our educational establishment!

As I stated I have no idea what I want to do with my life. For me, as I’m sure with many of you, my main motivation in finding a job after university is financial. It’s glaringly obvious that, as a student, I have racked up a lot of debt. For me, whichever career that is the most financially rewarding has to be considered; regardless of what this may entail. I have a few things I would consider talents, and some level of self confidence is vital for finding what career suits you. Employers want to know what you can offer them, and everyone has something.

I personally feel my outgoing nature and open personality lends my talents towards good communications and social skills. You need to sit down and think about what are your strengths and weaknesses and find ways to bring out the former and eliminate the latter. Remember, be honest with yourself, they can be critical to success or failure.

My next thoughts were to make the relatively easy steps of going to the Careers Service website (you can check it anytime and you don’t actually have to meet anyone so its always a good place to start). On there, I stumbled across a ‘Calendar of Events’ page with a list of career talks with quick descriptions of who it may be suitable for. Remember, you may need to sign up for these lectures in advance.

I found three or four that appealed to me and it was very simple to sign up. The first that came up was ‘Careers in PR’ – however arriving late, I didn’t want to interrupt the ensuing slide show in the darkened room and chose not to attend. Yes, it was a pathetic excuse for being lazy, but I promised honesty.

This, however, made me even more determined to attend the next, which was ‘Careers in Digital Media’. It was very informal and held in a standard seminar room. Of the three industry experts that were lecturing, only one really connected with my imagination in a way in which I could see myself pursuing that path. While the others provided a variety of perspectives on the sector of Digital Media, only one really described an industry I could see myself working in. However, this is necessary for the process of deciphering which career paths one wishes to pursue. Ironically, he worked in PR in the Digital Media sector (this made me wish I hadn’t been lazy the previous time, as is always the way) and was very helpful in pointing out that most of the time a degree doesn’t determine employment opportunities. Employers just want to know that your degree has instilled valued qualities such as time keeping and organisational skills, rather than what you have actually studied.

As I said, I didn’t feel that enamored with all the presenters. But I will say that the pure feeling of enlightenment you may receive from one class when you discover a potential career will be worth sitting through countless uninspiring ones. I have signed up for another three or four lectures as they are very helpful for those of us who are still undecided and need to see a variety of possible avenues. These lectures will not solve all your problems, nor will they answer all your questions. They will however reward participation and potentially pose to you extra questions which you may never have asked, of potential careers and yourself. They are an excellent first step on a long arduous journey that inevitably must be taken.

Next month, I will have another 3 or 4 meetings under my belt and I’m considering a personal meeting once I have a rough idea what career paths I wish to expand my knowledge base upon.


2 Responses to The Layman’s Guide to Careers

  1. Hi Tom, perhaps your indecisiveness could be focused at a company like Daisy, a telecoms firm, which is expanding greatly and looking for bright young talent.
    We have two places for a graduate training programme available at the moment, a two-year programme in which you work in various departments, if PR is your thing, this can be arranged. It gives you the option to find out where your talents lie while receiving full pay and a management role at the end of the programme. Perhaps you could come for an interview and post a blog about the experience?
    Have a look at our website for positions at – go to ‘about us’ and then ‘work at daisy’ and there you shall find it

    Happy job hunting


  2. Helen P (Careers Service) says:

    Thanks for the comment Fiona! Other students like Tom will be encouraged to find that organisations like yours are interested in attracting people onto their graduate training schemes who may still be in the process of defining their long-term career goals, but have bags of talent and potential, and have developed those all-important ‘transferable skills’ along the way.

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