Your degree can lead you anywhere

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

16 April 2021

Whilst it may be the ‘dream’ to land the job we intend straight after university, the reality is that it may not happen that way and sometimes we take a different direction. This is something that Kim Warner, Employability & Careers Adviser and ARU graduate, learned first-hand.

I graduated with a degree in Forensic Science from ARU (much longer ago than I care to recognise) and wanted to find a role within analytical chemistry. The problem was that I didn’t have any industry experience, and this appeared to be an essential criteria for many of the employers I wanted to apply to. After some consideration I decided to apply for other types of laboratory work that would help me build up my experience. This led me to working on a temporary contract (via a recruitment agency) for an alcoholic drinks company, in their Innovations Lab. Essentially, I was tasked with creating new alcoholic beverages, and yes, before you ask, you do have to try everything you create! This was a great job, and I met some amazing people.

After about nine months the project I was working on was winding up. I decided I wanted to try again at getting a role within analytical chemistry and so I contacted the recruitment agency again and asked for their support with this. Soon enough I was offered a role as a purification technician for a well-known company, where my job involved purifying and modifying synthetic DNA that would be used for research.

Whilst my career may have evolved since (who knew returning to ARU as an Employability and Careers Adviser was in my future!) I hope that this small insight can help you see that, whilst it may be frustrating when we can’t get that dream job right away, it is still possible by finding stepping stones that can lead you to where you want to be.

Two street signs, both saying 'One way'

Whether you have a ‘dream’ job in mind or are unsure what you want to do, don’t be afraid to consider temporary opportunities (internships, temporary contracts etc.). They are a great way to build up your experience and give you references, but they can also help you develop your network and figure out what direction you want your career to go in.

It’s important to remember that there may be other obstacles and challenges that mean we might have to take a less direct route to our ‘dream’ job. Currently the world is in the midst of a global pandemic that obviously is having large health, social and economic consequences. Whilst there will be many of us that are still able to follow our plans, there will be others who are more affected by these circumstances. Regardless of where obstacles come from, it does not mean our career journeys can’t progress. However, the path leading to our goals might look a little different to what we originally planned.

My tips to help you navigate this:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Even when we are reaching for the same goals no two people will be coming from the exact same set of circumstances. Follow your own paths.
  2. Don’t just work with long-term goals. Identifying some short-term or intermediary goals will help you break the journey to that ‘dream’ job down. Include review points and don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way!
  3. Remember there is more than one way to reach your goals. If you are unsure what these could be, get in touch with us at [email protected] and we can help you figure it out.

By Kim Warner, Employability & Careers Adviser


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.