Introduction to how to choose a career
Many students don't have much time to spend in career planning during their degree course. You may be too busy working to earn money to pay your way through university, or perhaps you are a mature student with a young family that you need to support. You may be too busy to regularly visit the Careers Service. These pages will allow you to do much of this career planning via the web.
First let's look at what factors go into choosing a career:
Choosing a career involves 4 main stages:
- Self Awareness
- Opportunity Awareness
- Decision Making
- Taking Action
Sometimes these stages will overlap and sometimes you have to return to a previous stage Be aware the cycle is not always as linear and consistent as it is presented here.
The first stage of Career Choice is Self Awareness. This involves looking at your SKILLS, VALUES, INTERESTS and PERSONALITY and analysing where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This is important both in choosing the right career and also for success in applications and interviews where you will find many questions which test whether you have been through this process.
Once you have done some preliminary self analysis, the next stage is to gather information on the opportunities open to you. There is a range of resources to help you here:
There is a range of general careers talks each term which are listed here
There may also be specific careers education programmes for your degree subject, usually during your second year of study.
Information on what you can do with your degree subject
Many jobs are open to graduates of any degree subject, and it's important not to only focus on the jobs related to your degree, but if you are doing a vocational degree, or simply want to find out what previous Kent graduates in your subject have gone on to do, the following resources should help.
- What can I do with my degree in ......? information on careers from all Kent degree subjects.
- Careers open to graduates with any degree subject
Early in your course you should look at the Work Experience open to you. As well as allowing you to earn money, they may allow you to gain relevant skills and perhaps an insight into the types of job you are interested in, putting you at the head of the queue when you eventually apply for jobs.
The Careers Information Room has a wide variety of booklets, reference files, books, DVD's and computer programmes you can use.
You may like to enter Postgraduate Study instead of directly entering a job, or it may be required for a particular career such as law or teaching. Here it may be important to apply early in your final year and to look at whether funding will be available to pay for the course.
INFORMATION FOR SPECIFIC GROUPS
We try to cater for all Kent students whatever their needs: Mature Students, Students with Disabilities, International Students, Ethnic Minority Students, Women Students. Sometimes this may affect your career choice - for example, mature students often enter public sector jobs and the helping careers where greater life experience may be to their advantage.
PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKBOOKS
- "Career Management Skills" - a profiling and self-awareness booklet for 1st Year students. See our web version
- "Postgraduates and Contract Researchers" - a booklet specifically for these groups. See our Web version.
The computer programs below allow you to put in a number of factors on what you want in a career (such as helping others, promotion prospects) and will give suggestions of possible careers which might match these. Regard these as useful suggestions rather than gospel truth, but they should bring up some possibilities that you haven't considered before.
Prospects Planner www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Pplanner is a powerful program to help you choose a graduate career. It allows you to answer questions about your values and interests and then to relate these to a database of hundreds of occupations to get suggestions on appropriate careers.
Alternatively Careers Explorer is a quick and simple program which will also suggest graduate careers
Talk to graduates already working in your chosen career area. You can use the Kent Alumni Careers Network to contact a graduate directly. Work shadowing (spending a day with) a person in the career you are considering is the next best thing to actually doing a job, to find out what it is like. If you have done this, you will come across as much better prepared at interviews.
Of course, the other important part in making decisions is discussing it with other people. Friends, family and tutors can all play an important part here . The Duty Careers Adviser is available every day without an appointment for a short discussion and can often help to inject reality into your ideas for example, pointing out that you may need to fund your way through a postgraduate course to enter your chosen career.
This is the final process of career planning. It involves:
- Finding out about the EMPLOYERS that offer the types of jobs you are interested in.
- Search our VACANCY DATABASE
- Preparing APPLICATIONS and attending INTERVIEWS
- Perhaps taking APTITUDE TESTS and attending SELECTION CENTRES
First look at the Timeline, which gives you an idea of what you should be doing when during your time at UKC in terms of Career Planning.
Sometimes you may have to return to previous stages in the process, for example, if you are not able to get into your first choice career.