NTU Students

What do I do next?: Steps to getting a career unrelated to your degree

Thinking about changing jobs or career paths? As I begin to write this, I realise that what I am about to share below will apply to students, but also to anyone who is thinking about changing career or believes that the course you select at university or college should forever determine your path in life. Furthermore, this advice can be applied across many industries and situations and truly can be helpful at any time in one’s life. So there is no perfect moment to share it.

Two months ago, during the Welcome 2021 event, I went ice skating and had an interesting conversation with an NTU Outreach Ambassador about relevance of the degree and employment. And whether you can pursue a career outside your specialty.

A message to that student ambassador: if you read this – thank you! This post would not have been written if you hadn’t inspired me to.

Those of you who find yourself wondering why you chose the subject you did – you are not alone in feeling this way.

Likewise, if you have a nagging feeling that doesn’t go away that you aren’t skilled or capable of doing what you spent countless hours studying – Don’t ignore that feeling. Maybe you need to practice more in your field, or maybe your subconscious is telling you that you should do something else.

I am a firm believer that you should always follow what your heart desires. However, that takes time and reflection. I began my studies to follow a career path I had always dreamed of pursuing as a child. In fashion design. Since I loved clothes, I thought being a fashion designer would be a worthwhile career choice. My initial desire was to enter the fashion industry, but after taking my fashion design degree for two years, I lost my patience and the desire to create clothes. Having decided that this was not for me, I left the course to see what life had in store for me. I did not view this as a lost opportunity. For what it is worth, I developed a lot of transferrable skills during my adulthood that made it possible for me to enrol at NTU to study Fashion Communication and Promotion.

Today at the skating rink, I was asked “Can I become a marketing professional despite studying education?” to what I replied, ‘Absolutely!’.

I realise they are completely different degrees, I also understand that you had a change of heart – and that’s ok. Do not let your degree determine what you should or should not pursue in life. 

I learned a few things along my career choices. I want to share with you what I know and regardless of your major, my advice will help you figure out the steps you can take to find your ideal career.

Leverage transferrable skills

If you want to enter a completely different field unrelated to your degree, remember that during your course you already have developed so many skills that you can literally transfer to any field.

The biggest misconception about any industry is that you NEED to have a certain degree to be considered for the job in any field.
Nerd dog sitting by the laptop

Yes, some industries such as healthcare, legal, IT are very competitive. But that doesn’t mean you are not the part of the competition. Of course, if you are planning to enter the job that you know your competition have some relevant experience in the field already, it’s going to be harder to win with your job application solely relying on transferrable skills. But a lot of jobs do not require years of studying the subject to get in. But wherever you want to go, you need to show foremost a passion for the subject.

In today’s world, many jobs require a universal set of skills such as writing, problem solving, effective verbal communication, and organisation. Perhaps you have developed some project management skills because of taking on a leadership role on a class project. All these skills are transferrable and should make you employable in most fields.

Make yourself known and valuable

Two women sitting and talking about career at the table

Would you like to become the competition in the field you wish to enter? Without much experience, it will be more difficult for companies to take a chance on you. It is advisable to look for companies that are already aware of your skill, ability, dedication, and talent. Those companies will be more easily convinced of your worth. Try to use work experience as a way to gain favour with people working in the industry or company you like, if you are planning on taking it as part of your studies. Meet people and let them know who you are. In the future, you may try contacting them for jobs in a different field or position.

It will also apply to you if you are not able to gain work experience. Consider moving to the company you like, regardless of your position. By doing so, you can show the people who already work there your potential and capabilities.

Build on your skills in your current company

Consider taking a job to build necessary skills in the company you are already in. Consider switching to the alternative role though. You can use the knowledge you already possess within the company move into something that interests you more.

Asses yourself

Question in a notepad: Am I good enough?

It might be a helpful to start getting an idea of your options in the other field. Especially if you are looking for a completely different experience. Make a list of your skills, interests, and values. You may already be qualified for some jobs and industries. Don’t let the requirement for a degree or certification stop you. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills. Develop extra skills so you will be able to apply for that dream job when it becomes available by taking courses or obtaining certifications! Most of the online courses on Google Digital Garage, LinkedIn Learning or Coursera offer certifications and allow you to learn employable skills for free or a small fee.

What recruiters are looking for most of the time is someone who is willing to put in effort and dedicates own time to improve themselves and career. This will make you far ahead of most of candidates.

Meanwhile, you can test your assumptions and interests while gaining skills by volunteering in your chosen field. Consider exploring those opportunities on LinkedIn or by contacting the career office at your university.

Find people, not jobs

There are millions of people applying for the same jobs using sites, CVs, resumes, and job boards. There is a ruthless selection process for online applications. But nothing compares to the power of a face-to-face meeting. A digital document can be quite difficult to convey your passion and enthusiasm for the job and industry. Connect with people at the company you want to work for via email and phone. If your recruiter will be attending a live event, let them know how much you want to work for them. Build relationships with people in the company and make sure they remember you.

If you want to change a career but you don’t know what you want to do next

People who insist their careers are right for them may take years to leave them.

In my opinion, it comes from over analysing the idea of the unknown. Throughout our education, we learned not to make mistakes and not to regret poor life choices. Nevertheless, if you do not change your course, you will miss amazing opportunities for a more fulfilling career. Although it may not happen immediately, and you might make some errors, you can always correct your path as you go. If you don’t know what you want yet, try to test career ideas outside of your day job. Try shadowing people for a day or two who work in the field that interests you. Then filter out all the jobs you don’t like. The process is like speed dating. After trying a few options, you’ll know the one that fits your values, needs, and aspirations best.

These tips should have inspired you to think a bit outside the box. Taking the step to realise that your current job does not align with your interests or values is not a comfortable one. But the world is not over and there are more opportunities than ever for anyone to pursue a career.

What has the experience of changing careers meant to you?

Would you do anything differently? Are you looking to change your career and want more advice?

As everyone’s journey is different, we would love to hear your story. Let us know in the comments below.

Emilia Denis
Emilia has graduated in Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU in 2020. She's currently working at NTU and is an administrator of NTU Outreach Blog.

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