For many, a degree is a route to further education or employment, but for most (I think) it is an easy way of delaying being a ‘grown-up’ and conveniently, it can be lots of fun. This is certainly true for me. At 18, I knew I should probably start thinking about the future, and a degree seemed like a step in the right direction. However, I couldn’t quite work out how I would put my degree to use when I graduated.
Starting my degree didn’t help either. I studied Philosophy and Religious Studies, and although I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I knew being a philosopher wasn’t really an option. In my second year, things changed. I discovered Fuse FM, Manchester’s student radio station. It was a brilliant way of making new friends and trying something new. I also quickly realised that the skills I was learning would benefit me when looking for a job. Teamwork, confidence and time management are all things that get employers excited about, and they were becoming second nature to me. In my final year, I was elected to be the Station Manager of Fuse FM. This allowed me to put a bit more of a focus on employability in the society. I was making students aware that their new skills would help them when looking for work, even if getting a job in radio wasn’t for them.
However, for me, getting a job in radio was what I wanted to do. I made use of my contacts and got work experience at stations in Manchester and worked hard on boosting my CV. Sadly, I’m still waiting for the call from Radio 1, but my skills definitely benefitted me.
My extra-curricular activities meant I was organising events, marketing them, speaking publically at them, managing my time; because I was meant to be studying for my degree at the same time, and showed that I was really passionate about the work I was doing. These employable skills got me my current job. I’m a marketing assistant within the Careers Service and it’s great. I’m doing very similar things to when I was running the radio station, only now I’m getting paid. I had practical skills and real life experience, something that was vital for me getting a job in an area I didn’t study in.
When competing with other candidates, I needed to make myself stand out. I stood out because of the experience I gathered while at university. For me, studying was only part of my time at university. The rest of my time was spent being involved in things poles apart from my degree programme. They were useful, but they were also fun to do. I think a common misconception is that careers related activities are dull or irrelevant. Working in the Careers Service, I know that the important, stand-out qualities, are never dull or irrelevant.
Careers and ‘the future’ can seem daunting, but to prepare, it is best to start early. You don’t necessarily need to know what you want to do when you graduate, but you should remember that you are probably going to need a job. I was able to prepare for this, and I recommend you do too.
Join a society, get involved with a volunteering project and have a great time! Skills gained from activities like these will certainly help you when you do graduate and you may in fact discover a career path that you hadn’t even considered.