Planning Your Career: Identifying Skills and Exploring Options

Posted on: 1 December 2023 by Aditi Gupta in Hints, tips and advice

In this post Aditi explores the opportunities which may extend beyond the boundaries of your chosen academic programmes to help you navigate the post-graduation landscape.

Reflecting back on last December when I proudly donned my cap and gown to receive my master’s degree in Organisational and Occupational Psychology, it is hard to believe a year has swiftly passed in my graduate career.

I landed in Liverpool with the aspirations of becoming an Organisational Psychologist but my journey took an unexpected path with my graduate role diverging from the most obvious career path of my degree.

Navigating my unconventional career path and working in the careers team, it has become clear that career planning can extend beyond the confines of a degree’s specialism.

In fact, around 75% of graduate roles welcome candidates from diverse academic backgrounds, valuing a spectrum of skills, qualities, and qualifications.

In this blog piece, I explore the opportunities which may extend beyond the boundaries of your chosen academic programmes to help you navigate the post-graduation landscape.

Researching Your Options

Finding your graduate career can be made easy by conducting basic research. Start by checking out websites such as TargetJobs and Prospects to discover the different career paths and industries, even if they are not directly linked to your degree. Many graduate jobs and schemes welcome students from any background, giving you way more choices than you think. Your job is to dig deep into any option that interests you to check if you match the requirements for the roles you are interested in. If you do not meet these requirements, you can potentially focus on gaining relevant skills and experiences to ensure a smoother application stage.


Network with Professionals

After you have generated some initial ideas, you can speak to professionals in that industry to understand more about the responsibilities of a particular profession. While this may mean getting out of your comfort zone, it is a great way of getting an insider view on rewards and challenges involved with a particular profession and the day-to-day activities involved. Another option is to speak to alumni through LinkedIn or Handshake on why they chose their particular career and steps they took to reach there.

This Handshake resource on “How to Network” is a great tool to get started on all things professional networking.


Identifying Your Skills

If choosing to pursue a career unrelated to your degree, your transferable skills take centre stage, often outweighing your academic knowledge. Employers who welcome candidates from various degree backgrounds prioritize the skills you bring to the table over your specific academic expertise. It is then crucial to recognize and understand your transferable skills. Take some time to identify what relevant skills you already bring to the table and pinpoint any skills that may need development.


Gain Skills and Experience

As you assess your current skill set against the requirements of a role you're eyeing, you might discover some missing pieces. This process is a valuable opportunity to identify the skills and qualifications you lack, setting the stage for targeted skill development. In order to fill these skill gaps, there are a number of opportunities you can consider which include voluntary work, involvement in student societies, participation in sports clubs, or taking on part-time roles. These experiences will enhance your skill set and also provide concrete evidences to discuss in future job applications.

If you are considering getting work experience, this Handshake guide has useful information on websites to get you started in finding opportunities.


Seek Support

We understand that finding a career which is not directly related to your degree can be tricky. If you are looking to explore options outside of your degree, you can access our support in-person at the Career Studio and online via Handshake.

This online resource on Handshake is a great starting point to choosing a career in 10 simple steps.

Additionally, one of our trained Career Coaches will be able to co-explore graduate career options that may be open to you, help you identify your skills and support you in looking for work experience opportunities.

You can visit the Career Studio (in the Foundation Building) in-person anytime on weekdays between 10am and 5pm, there's no appointments needed!