What can you do now?
Other sections of this website have encouraged you to learn about yourself and career options, both of which are important. This section helps you make some decisions and start doing things to find work that suits you. Most you can do before graduation, and also afterwards as your ideas and priorities change.
Choosing what to do
The 'Way with Words' project
interviewed English graduates who have
started their own businesses.
Not all English graduates seek to start work straight after graduation. The Prospects website has a page giving a snapshot of what English graduates are doing a few months after graduation. It shows that for 2008
graduates only 52% were in UK employment. If you think that the rest were unemployed you'd be wrong (only 8% were unemployed): in fact they were doing other things such as going on to further study. What many find helpful is to keep a sense of personal ownership of the steps you may take. It’s your life, your career, no one else’s! You are not on a conveyor belt: you have choices!
The choices may include :
- further study
- work experience
- paid employment
The 'Options with your Subject' sections of the Prospects website suggest some possible career avenues to explore. Finding an answer that’s right for you may be a matter of weighing up the options in terms of cost, enjoyment for yourself, pleasing parents or others, or impact on your long-term career. You may be afraid of making a decision that you will later regret, but remember that there are probably many different jobs that you could do with equal satisfaction and success. So there is not necessarily one right choice, and people (especially humanities graduates!) change jobs and careers all the time and may try several kinds of work over several years before settling on one, if at all.
Sort_it is a collection of interactive modules designed to increase your ability to manage your career, from choosing your future path to settling into your new job (You'll need to register). It tries to help you to think for yourself and equip you with useful tools and techniques for all stages of your career decision making.
Creative Choices is a website designed for anyone interested in a career in the creative or cultural sector. It has sections devoted to careers in literature, theatre, TV and heritage (amongst others) which contain job profiles, course guides and advice from leading professionals. The pages also give access to information about relevant networks and funding opportunities, and there are ‘quick guides’ to things such as preparing a successful pitch and getting the most out of a work placement.
Gathering advice and information
There are many sources of guidance and information, central to which is your university careers advisory service. You can access them on line and face to face. Careers advisers are professionals and they will leave it to you to decide what you want from their services and to figure out what your interests and priorities are and what you want to do.
They will typically help you with such activities as identifying skills, personal development planning, reflection, career planning, information searching, work experience, researching jobs, finding a job, self employment and the practicalities of making applications.
Preparing a CV
Before exploiting opportunities through your networks or approaching potential sources of work experience, it's best to have a well-presented CV at the ready. Your Careers Service will be able to offer plenty of advice and models to follow, but otherwise have a look at the Prospects web page on CVs and covering letters or the TARGETJobs web page on writing CVs
Networking - developing relationships (either online or face-to-face) with people who might be able to help you with your future career - is crucial to creating opportunities. For example, if you are working in a bar, chatting to customers might lead to offers of work placements which in turn might lead to a job. You should informally, but strategically, expand your network through activities such as:
- work placements or volunteering
- job shadowing
- undertaking a dissertation that involves liaison with outside organisations
- getting involved in student or charitable organisations
- participating in online networking groups
You may think work experience is a luxury you don't have time for, but in today's competitive job market having relevant experience is a necessity. But the good news is that employers usually welcome approaches from students (as opposed to graduates) because the stakes are lower. You are not looking for a job but to establish connections with people who can help you sort out your career prospects.
Some English and Creative Writing degrees now offer work-based modules, but if yours doesn't then think about working over the summer, volunteering or working part-time alongside your degree. You may also consider national programmes such as Rate my Placement that assist students in finding work placements. The charity StudentForce for Sustainability arranges projects, volunteering, placements and employment that promote and practise sustainable development for students and graduates.
Applying for work or further study
Once you have decided on your next move, your careers service will be able to advise you on the best job search strategy. They will be able to tell you whether networking, direct application, using employment agencies or graduate recruitment schemes are the best approach. They'll be able to help you enhance your CV and be fully prepared when those interview invitations come in. Researching the company, dressing appropriately, the impact of non verbal communication, preparing for questions and having questions of your own, all play their part.
Further study is a popular choice for English graduates. (10% of 2008 graduates went on to higher degrees according to the Prospects website.) The Prospects website also has a postgrad course finder and general advice about postgraduate study. And of course if it's an English or Creative Writing course you're thinking about, your lecturers will be more than happy to advise you.