How to Navigate an Early Career Change?

Everybody wants to find a career that is enjoyable, enriching, and provides the appropriate level of pay to sustain their desired lifestyle. In the UK alone 2.32 million students study at 162 higher education institutions to better their chances of achieving this dream.

But what happens if a student doesn't enjoy the degree they chose? Or a recent graduate realises early into their career that they’re more drawn to an alternative?

Our interests and abilities are constantly transforming, and this happens very frequently. Studies consistently show that at least 20% of students regret the degree they chose and that such a mismatch can lead to depression. Another survey from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) found that 50% of third-year students are stuck in the deciding phase of what to do after graduation: it’s more common than ever before. This means that many graduates realise their true passion after beginning a graduate career, and often, after pursuing the wrong direction first.

If a person finds themselves in this situation they shouldn’t panic. There are a series of steps that they can take to grasp the situation and discover the path forwards.

Consider academic options / further education

The first question to ask is which academic options are available to pursue this new career path? Do the options available mean that you have to abandon your current studies, or is there a way to adapt your course? As a young professional, can your bachelors be supplemented with a vocational master’s degree?

Determining the answer to this question will depend on a lot of research. You’ll have to first research the career options in your industry of interest and the typical academic requirements for those options as well as the skills expected.

Imagine, for example, that you’re a second-year accounting student who discovers a profound interest in marketing. Your first instinct may be to pursue a marketing degree, but that might not be the best solution. You may even find it easier to enter the world of marketing as an account director where your budgeting and accounting skills will be extremely valuable and attractive to employers.

You may also be a graduate who recently embarked on a graduate scheme with a consulting firm, but quickly discovered that the role isn’t right for you. There are endless of online or in person further education options (including postgraduate degrees) that you can add to your bachelors to quickly reorient your career.

Knowledge really is power and the better the understanding you have of a given role or industry, the better the chances you’ll make a wise and efficient decision. You’ll also be able to understand which supplementary qualifications could give you a huge boost.

Look at internships

Perhaps you’re in your final year of study and for practical reasons you’re unable to change your course. This doesn’t mean that all is lost, and you’re condemned to follow a career path you don’t want. Internships are a great way for you to learn on the job and equipped with an undergraduate degree in any subject you’ll find that a lot of doors are still open to you.

That is, of course, if you can demonstrate a profound level of insight and understanding of a given industry or role, despite having studied something different. Your willingness to learn and work supersedes your previous academic experiences. Position yourself in the right way and showcase unparalleled passion, no company will turn you away.

To get the most from your internship there are a number of steps that you can take. It isn’t just an opportunity to attain industry-specific knowledge, but to get a feel for a work environment and to network. Adjusting to company culture can help you to fit seamlessly within an industry so again, research is your key to success.

Consider professional courses

It’s more common than ever before for young professionals to develop their own skills and knowledge beyond academia. Not all industries require formal education in the first place, and in fact, being self-taught can be an advantage in some roles such as web-development. Supplementing your degree with a short skill-enhancing course can be a great way to make sure you stand out as well as a way to ease the transition into the professional world.

Professional courses can take you very far and open up doors that your degree otherwise may not. They may be challenging as you will have to juggle your current job or studies with extra activities and work. You’ll also need a solid plan to manage your time most effectively. Some roles are easier planned for than others, but with today’s technological world everything is changing rapidly. Another important factor will be to understand exactly the speciality you want to acquire, for example, in digital marketing you may look at SEO, google analytics, paid search, paid media, etc, and in web development you may want to first inquire which coding language you want to invest learning to maximise your candidacy. Note that for the best courses hefty fees are sometimes required, so do check the reputation of the company and if their accreditation is recognised in the industry before signing up!

Nonetheless, companies love skilled individuals, and complemented by industry knowledge, any job seeker will shine when entering their chosen industry.

Tie it together with Pathfinder

Our data-driven platform was designed from the ground up to help you with each of the steps above. Psychometric tests are used to generate career recommendations for you and you’ll find all of the resources for courses, degrees, information, and industry insight you need to succeed.

You can give it a go for free today and begin to orient yourself and navigate your early career change with confidence and success.

Founded by Oxbridge graduates, it is the first-ever all-in-one platform for career development that makes the career planning process efficient and personalised.

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