ving studied Politics for the past two-and-a-bit years, I’m always met with the ‘oh, so you want to be an MP then?’ type questions by family, friends and even taxi drivers (who are always up for a discussion on politics). However, as someone who has only studied Politics as it was what I was interested in, I’m always stuck at what I want to do after university and what career I see myself going into.
The concept of moving on after university life is daunting. Finding yourself suddenly in your final year and realising that it’s only a matter of months before you’re thrown into the ‘real world’ can be scary and an uncertain time. The phrase ‘graduate scheme’ is slowly becoming ingrained as one of dread, thinking that you won’t be accepted because of your degree background or skills. It can be particularly difficult not to think this way if you’re studying a humanities subject that doesn’t necessarily lead to the certain pathway that a STEM subjects often do.
I spoke to employers at UEA’s annual Careers’ Fair, in an attempt to seek reassurance about life after graduation and what their top tips were for securing employment. Zara, a manager from Marks and Spencer’s, set the record straight saying; ‘It’s not about your degree background, what matters is more about you as a person and that you have a good personality.’ Scarlett, a HR assistant from accountancy firm RSM, was incredibly encouraging; ‘I don’t think any option is out of reach for anybody, really focus on your strengths as a person and what you enjoy because if you aren’t passionate about something that’s really going to come across at interview stage.’ Even if you’re downbeat from rejection, she told us not to be ‘put off by not being accepted by your first role, just keep going and keep trying and you will get there.’
Ex UEA student Charlotte, who now works for Zatu Games, told us how her project management internship actually led to her being kept on at the company. Asked on whether graduates needed a specific degree she said; ‘it’s so broad, I know some graduates worry that they’ve got really specific degrees and worry what they’re going to do with their degree. We’ve got graduates from every area in our company.’
We also spoke to Ashley, a postgraduate student who is having her business idea developed by the UEA’s student enterprise scheme, and asked how entrepreneurial students can get their foot in the door. She said ‘everyone’s welcome to come in and talk, there’s an open door policy… Quite a few students have gone onto be really successful in their businesses. If you have a business idea come in, there’s never a bad business idea, We can help with everything.’
A great hack to getting through the dreading situational judgement tests, a rep from the Barclay’s Graduate Scheme told us, was to ‘look at what a company’s values are, it should say on their website what their core values and beliefs are and use these to tie in with your own existing knowledge and ideas.’ Charlotte from Zatu also gave another great tip, ‘Don’t necessarily look for something with the word graduate in it, they might not necessarily be the best jobs for you as a person.’
So you don’t even need a finance degree to work in a bank, who knew?