By Kayleigh Gray
- All I had to do was type ‘nonvocational’ into the Twitter search box and I received a list of tweets agreeing that most non-vocational degrees are a waste of space. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you if you’ve been looking at studying a degree without a clear career outcome.
Subjects such as English, Geography or History are often studied at university because the student has enthusiasm for the course and would happily spend three years exploring it in further detail. If you are passionate about a certain degree then this will drive you to do well at university, attend your lectures and engage in related activities.
If this is you then don’t worry about what other people say and just do it, but do it right.
You need to focus on your employability throughout your degree to ensure that employers will want to hire you when you finish studying.
University is also a time to enjoy yourself, so I’m not suggesting that you must spend all your spare time working, but you should consider what job you would like, work out what experience would be suitable to determine if it’s the right career path for you and restart the cycle if it’s not suitable.
Apart from actively volunteering in the local community by using website such as do-it.org, there are often easy ways to gain work experience. You could become a student representative, which means you will take your course mates’ feedback back to the university staff to improve your teaching experience. Other options would be to join a society and, as you build up your confidence, take on a leadership role or another new skill. Why not try it for any part-time job you may have to give it more value on your CV and in interviews?
Furthermore, many universities have modules with an employment element to it. For example, work based [NR1] projects are modules where you can go into an organisation of your choice, work on a project and then put together a folder of all your challenges and achievements. This is then rewarded at the end by university credit and professional experience.
During your final year it will get very busy, so if you are volunteering or have a part-time job then see if it has flexible hours to fit with your changeable workload. Utilise the help available to you at the Careers and Employment service or the university’s Students’ Union and find out what employment and volunteering help they can offer you.
One of the perks of attending university is that there are many choices to get involved, so use this opportunity to give yourself a career focus alongside your academic work. There is nothing wrong with studying a non-vocational course, but it can affect how employable you are at the end of it, so do wait to think about your career prospects until your final year.
Beat the competition by thinking about your employability now.
Kayleigh is a recent English Literature graduate from Sheffield Hallam University and currently works in their Careers and Employment team, all views are her own. Her roles include assisting the team, working with students on employability projects and building relationships with prospective students, employers and other Sheffield Hallam University staff.