Applying to a university – choosing a career pathway

Sooner or later everyone faces a question – should I get a degree?

It doesn’t matter whether it is a bachelor level or master degree, you will need to go through a similar decision-making process and think about:

  • What career should I pursue?
  • What programme will get me the exact skills and knowledge I need?
  • What university is the best fit to get me there?

It is important to start by thinking about your future career first as this is your main goal that your course will help you achieve by providing you with the relevant skills, knowledge and mindset.

Choosing a career pathway

If you already have an idea of what do you want to do in life – that’s great (And I honestly envy you)! However, many would still have doubts about what career they should pursue. Should you find yourself in this position – do not worry, secretly everyone is uncertain about their decisions, and some people spend their whole lives not knowing. You may never know for sure, however you can have a few good estimates of what would be a good career for you.

Career Research

Think about what things you enjoy doing and what are you good at. It is also worth taking a look at job descriptions to see the skills required for each position and what would the job responsibilities include.

I encourage you to spend 1-2 hours browsing though different job profiles to have a better understanding of potential careers. You will find that some jobs are more generic than others and require mainly transferable skills that you can acquire in majority of degrees, while others are very niche and require a more specialised set of skills.

Generally, all job search platforms have a section on different job descriptions and profiles, for example: Target Jobs, Total Jobs or Prospects. You can also do your individual research to find other sources of information.

Doing this initial research will help you understand what jobs you are more attracted to and also what the required skills and knowledge are to pursue them. I would advise shortlisting 5-10 job descriptions that you like, which you can then map against your skills and different degrees’ curricula.

Your strengths and skills

Once you understand the requirements and have a selection of jobs that you think you might enjoy doing, you should think about what skills you already have and what you are generally more inclined to enjoy.

Ask yourself a question – If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

I bet you have had moments when you thought: “it would be so great if I could earn money doing it” or “I wish I could to this my whole life”. Don’t be afraid if these thoughts only came to you when you were watching your favourite TV show, going out with your friends or playing a video game. All of these activities require a set of skills that you already have and most importantly enjoy using.

Let’s take watching a TV series as an example. Do you enjoy watching TV because you can relate to the characters? Or are you fascinated by the props and designs used in the show? If it is a mystery/crime show, do you find yourself trying to analyse who the murderer is or solving the crime? Or do you simply appreciate the quality or style of acting in one series over another?

All of these questions address certain skills – people skills, ability to empathise, design and visual presentation, problem-solving and analytical skills, attention to detail and an ability to compare different products within the same category.

Now, let’s analyse what you have always enjoyed doing as a child. Were you the one who always came up with or suggested activities for others to participate in? Did you try to create/build something and what was the thinking process behind it? Did you enjoy actively making friends with other kids or feel more comfortable, when someone else approached you?

Has your behaviour changed since then? Can you see patterns in what you enjoyed doing then and what you enjoy doing now?

All of these skills and behaviour traits can enable you to build a career that you will truly enjoy and be excel in. Try matching these to the career descriptions that you have previously shortlisted and that will help you get a better idea of a potential career pathway, before moving on to the next stages of selecting the subject of study and the best university that offers it.

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