Deciding on a career

If you don’t know what you would like to do after leaving university, booking an appointment with your careers adviser can help you on your path to exploring your options.

The aim of this page is to help you make a start on this path. ‌

How do I find out what would suit me?

Looking at what you are good at (your skills) and what you would like to get out of a job (your values) are a good starting point. It can help to discover what kind of person you are and what activities you enjoy. For example:

Work to live, or live to work – think about what motivates you. Also consider recent activities that gave you a real sense of achievement – what skills were you using? Think about:

  • Do you work best when interacting with people, or generating ideas, or practical work?
  • Do you thrive on pressure or prefer a more relaxed pace?
  • How about being the person in charge, or would you prefer to be in a supporting role? 
  • Your interests can also be worth exploring as can considering the type of people you like to be around.

Other resources that can help you include careers interest tests.

What else can I do to find out what career would suit me?

Work shadowing someone working in a job, or an organisation, that interests you can give a better understanding of the job / career.

Similarly, an information interview with a professional can give a good insight into their job – an alternative to work shadowing if they work in a role where shadowing is not possible (e.g., healthcare).

Use your network for contacts (family, friends, neighbours).

I’ve followed these suggestions and I still don’t know what to do… what now?

Not everyone plans their career in a logical, linear way figuring out the various steps. Plans change, life circumstances get in the way of the plan.

Planned Happenstance is the view that you can create opportunities by taking action on your curiosity and on chance events. It is about responding to events in our lives and turning them into career and learning opportunities. It’s about adopting a positive attitude to unplanned events and wondering ‘how I can…’, rather than ‘I can’t because…’.

Looking at options with a specific degree can help by showing you a range of ideas that you may not have previously considered. Check out our pages under Explore Careers for some starting points.

What if I decide I don’t want a career in my degree field?

It can happen that students will decide to pursue a career that seems different to their current studies. As you gain experience and insights into various jobs and careers during your time in university, you may wish to explore routes into a different discipline through postgraduate conversion courses or other study options. 

However, according to a recent gradireland Trends Survey up to 40% of graduate job opportunities do not require a specific discipline, leaving you many opportunities outside further study.

Keep updated on job opportunities through CAREERS CONNECT to see what employers are looking for.

External links

Read more on this topic

No idea about a career- gradireland

Your career options- Prospects

Career Planning - Careers Portal

iCould 

Planned happenstance