Many question whether to follow the well-tested path towards success.
Most elite graduate jobs do not require a particular degree. However, a few qualification courses will give you the knowledge that could be useful in applying. As most elite graduate jobs are in multinational businesses, awareness of trade and analytical skills are essential. Reading up on Economics, Engineering or a STEM area could prepare you with useful skills. The crucial word here is ‘slight’.
You can easily pick up this knowledge with some of the guidance offered in subsequent chapters of this book, as most employers will evaluate you as a rounded individual. Your best bet is to keep well read in all areas. Study on your own, and engage in intellectual conversation with experts in a field. You learn so much through involving yourself in the world around you.
To clarify, business is not about hiring geniuses, but about finding folks who are pragmatic. Employers recognise that in the three or four years you have spent at university, you will have developed as a person. Most likely, you will have matured, lived away from home, learnt to budget, gained independence and figured out how to manage your time. You would have obtained a fair amount of emotional intelligence i.e. tact and empathy. In employability terms this makes you good at communicating and a capable team player (hopefully!).
You should also have learned how to plan and schedule. Whether a piece of coursework, an essay, a lab paper or a literature review; you will almost certainly have had to collate information from different sources and articulate an opinion. What is more, you will have written for a target audience, (perhaps an examiner or a tutor?) involving research skills, planning, organising, time management, independent working, critical analysis and the ability to write to the point. So don’t fret about your Undergraduate course choice. There are no mistakes, only situations that you can learn from. Change is the only constant, and you must be able to move with the river.
Making the most of your University degree is to focus on a cream post-university career search while studying. In the subsequent chapters, the steps to do this will be discussed. Start thinking about this ideally in your first semester. You may find the business world complex and frustrating as it will be new and challenging at first but persevere.
Here are some student experiences to avoid:
‘I was already signed on when I graduated. This was not unusual, but during the ceremony, I felt pretty sad and hopeless. It was tough to quaff champagne and toast the next chapter of my life when it already seemed incredibly desolate. I can’t support myself and am living off my parents – no house, food, clothes, or other necessities. Worse yet, I was horrifically hungover, thanks to the four-bottles-for-a-tenner wine deal my dad had provided the night before’. Alcohol and emotions are a sour mix.
‘After I graduated I spent the summer trying to find work, failed, and continued staying at home with my parent’s. Over the year I drifted between jobs – a paper boy, security guard, pizza delivery guy, a clown for children’s’ birthday parties…the list goes on.
My parents had enough and staged an intervention, reminding me that I had so much potential. This was not the end of the road. I took another look at my degree – a sociology B.A.- and reminisced about the passion I’d had for working with people and observing patterns in society.
My college classmate’s father had an opening for a Human Resources(HR) Intern in his firm (a giant multinational). HR is a booming occupation path, and looking at the high returns on current employees in the field, I decided to apply for the internship, hoping to work towards an eventual position as an HR executive. Two years later, here I am, fruitful and independent, head of the same company’s HR team. I never thought I’d land an elite graduate job, with a sociology degree, but I soon discovered that corporations are interested in the person you are, and what you do with your degree.
Many employers need candidates to have at least a predicted 2.1 degree, and relatively few specify an area of study. Many elite graduate employers in the private sector run ‘general management schemes’. Oil companies, retailers, manufacturing, banks, utility firms and service-focused organisations all look for bright, energetic and organised graduates to train in different areas. The information technology business is also open for anyone and only for those with computing and programming backgrounds.
IT organisations and consultancies regularly recruit graduates from non-technical degrees for consulting and commercial opportunities – these are intermediary roles at the interface between the techies, those who focus on the hardcore development work and other users of technology. The finance and professional services sectors look for creative folks with an arts or humanities degree but, you obviously need to be reasonably numerate.
If you want to work in the city, you will need energy, enthusiasm and a reasonable level of numeracy. However, the finance sector – as will be shown in later chapters- is vast and diverse. It includes accountancies (large and small), financial services (retail banks, insurance, pensions, financial advisory) and professional services (firms that bring together audit, constitutional amenities, accountancy, and advisory) There is an ocean of choices for you to gravitate towards.