Degree done, but it's not really what I want to do

So you have the piece of paper, three years of study is complete but now that you're done you're not sure that this is the career for you. Before you throw in the towel and enrol in a whole new degree, it’s time to take a good long look at what new skills you do have and where your passion lies.

You’ll be surprised at what you have learnt and how it can be applied to other industries, but how do you know what it is you really want to do?  

Make the most of what you know.

Most people don’t make it through a degree without picking up a thing or two. Some skills are applicable to more than just one industry, which means they are transferable and time has not entirely been wasted.

The problem is, much of the time transferable skills remain elusive – we know we must have some, but we often aren’t really sure what they look like and so can’t recognise them when we need to.

Transferable skills go beyond what you learn in lectures, tutorials and workshops. Think along the lines of presentation and communication skills, technological acumen, research skills and let’s not forget critical thinking gained through years of essay writing and analysis.

Transferable skills go beyond what you learn in lectures, tutorials and workshops.

Also, think about the more concrete skills attained through your study and whether any of those could be useful in the industry you long to work in. Draw up a list of skills gained and a list of skills needed and see how many cross over, you might be surprised. We also recommended checking out this list of universal job skills.

Find your passion.

You may already know what you want to do, or you may just have come to the realisation that what you’ve been studying isn’t it. It can be a little tricky to pin down exactly where your passion lies but a good starting point is to identify your natural abilities rather than learned behaviour.

The best career for you, and the one that will bring you the most satisfaction, is the one that allows you to express who you really are. Likewise, if your new career fits in with your basic values, chances are it’ll bring you greater happiness at work.

Also, think about what you love doing outside of work or study hours? Interrogating the areas you love to read about, the hobbies you have or things you love doing all hold some insight into your areas of passion. 

How to make it all fit together.

You may see a list of skills in a job ad and feel that you can’t meet the requirements. But you may be more ready to apply for that role than you think. You may already have — or be close to having — all sorts of skills once you look at how your skills can be applied to octher areas.

Now that you’ve identified your previously ‘hidden’ transferable skills, relate them to the opportunities that fit with your passions. Review each job ad carefully to identify what each employer is looking for and tailor applications so you’re getting the right points across each time.

Take a look at these cover letter and CV examples for hints and tips on where to start and what to highlight. And finally, have confidence, that’s a skill in itself. 

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