The Journey of Job Discovery: How to investigate your career options

by Jenny Leung, final year, English Lit and Linguistics

Your new career“Help-I have no idea what I want to do!” – This article may change your mind!

The journey of job discovery can often be long and treacherous, meandering through hills and valleys of uncertainty and indecision. For others, the path is very clear, uncluttered by those dull clouds of indecision.

For those floundering in the hills of “What do I do after university?” there are a few steps you can take to try to ease those worries. Ultimately, no one can really tell you what to do. The answer lies within (ok, ok, I’ll stop with the cheesiness).

Why should you start thinking about life after Manchester?

Yes, it’s important to prioritise your degree. However, sparing a moment to think about life after graduation is also essential. It helps with things like building your CV, making the right contacts and effectively planning your time. As you can imagine, it can be tricky to know what to apply for if you have no inkling of what you want to achieve in life.

Before opting for my degree in English Literature and Linguistics, I perused websites like Prospects and After English to discover all the roles directly and indirectly linked to my degree. I see my degree as a means to an ends to a career in online content creation.

There are numerous options which I’m sure you’re aware of postgraduate study, graduate schemes, full time jobs, going abroad, internships, work experience, self-employment and voluntary work. With hundreds upon hundreds of careers in the world, how can you choose the right one for you?

Discover yourself

Reflecting on your present skill-set and personality style as well as likes and dislikes can be a good indicator of a suitable job for you. For example, I work best alone, enjoy writing and blogging and like web design so it was obvious that a career in online content creation is for me (writing for websites and blogs). Now what about you?

1) What are your hobbies and passions? Write down a list of things you enjoy to gain a sense of what makes you special; it’s possible to make a living from what you enjoy (consider self-employment, setting up a business and careers that would make use of these skills)

2) Assess your personality styles and preferred working styles via The Learning Styles Indicator and Type Dynamics Indicator

3) Try My Future Next Steps questionnaire, which is exclusive to Manchester, to help you understand the actions you could take to move your career forward.

4) Check out Prospects Planner and other similar careers questionnaires.

5) Examine all the reports garnered from these tests and write down the careers/job sectors that most stick out to you. If you’re none the wiser, why not speak to friends and relatives and visit the Careers Service in The Atrium of University Place

Search wider afield

Once you’ve set down the groundwork for your journey, start making a plan to road-test potential job sectors and set off on the journey. I’ve tried placements and roles in journalism, PR, marketing as well as blogging to find out what’s right for me and best appeals to my interests. You may find it useful to begin a reflective diary to jot down thoughts and ideas.

1) Book an appointment with The Careers Service to discuss your options and results of the tests

2) Apply for suitable roles, work placements and internships in potential career sectors of interest. For example, I am currently secretary of The Blog Society and previously Publicity Officer of my hall’s JCR in first year. Don’t forget to apply for the work experience bursary if you need it:

3) Consider work shadowing and/or finding a mentor.

4) Start building a LinkedIn profile and join career groups.

5) Search the careers’ pages of your subject for alumni profiles that can provide further inspiration.

6) Attend talks hosted by employers and alumni.

Build up your supplies

Working life isn’t always about finding the perfect job right away and staying in it till retirement (although if you do, congratulations!). You may have a varied career path trying out a number of roles. If you’re really stuck about what you want to do after university, you should simply concentrate on developing your skills. These will hopefully mould to most, if not all, jobs. Here are a few ways you can really make a difference to your CV and become more attractive to employers:

1) Join societies that genuinely interest you – or start your own

2) Enrol onto career specific modules such as those from The University College or run by the Careers Service. I took the module: Careers & Project Management Skills for Arts, Languages and Cultures 2014-15 and found it very useful

3) Start building a blog in an area of interest or perhaps your subject area and learning new skills like HTML and Social Media Marketing

4) Join a competitive sports team

5) Consider volunteering and/or running for a role on The Students’ Union Committee

In all, finding out what you should pursue after university is about reflecting inwards and experimenting. There’s no problem in dreaming big as long as you take the steps to get there. Even if you don’t reach the moon, you might land on a star (ok, last bit of cheesiness, I promise).

For more information, please refer to The Careers Service’s brochure, ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ – is your portal for jobs, placements, careers information….

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