Advice from alumni
Our Sociology and Politics & Sociology alumni who participated in this research have gone into a number of different careers. As with our current students, some of them had a really clear idea of what they wanted to do after their degrees. But equally many had no idea, and took some time to figure out their pathway. Regardless of which pathway into employment they took, they all had some really excellent advice to share with you about life after your degree, and what different things you might want to consider whilst you are still a student, as well as when it comes time to seek employment (whether if during or after your degree, or both).
- Newcastle is a great city to be a student, and there are also many opportunities in the city and off campus to get involved in ways that can help you build your CV.
- If you are interested in volunteering, the Careers Service can offer advice, and so too can this gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/volunteer
- Your Dissertation work can be really useful for your cv in two ways: both the skills you are learning from it (independent research, time management, critical analysis, writing a substantial document) and for some, a particular field of work that can lead onto other things.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, don’t panic – there are so many different careers out there and so many different pathways into them – and it is ok to not know immediately how things are going to develop.
Get involved in the city
One clear message that came through from our alumni was that as a big city, Newcastle offers excellent opportunities for making yourself stand out to employers:
“My biggest advice is to actually get involved in the city of Newcastle. I think get involved so that you actually have connections to the outside world. You know if that is a simple case of volunteering in a local youth centre, for instance. Find out what is actually going on in the city. You need to be plugged into the surrounding city or the surrounding place.”
“Well definitely, if I was speaking to graduates now, I would 100% say to get some experience, in whatever field it is you're interested in, but definitely get that… it stands out, to say you have went out of university life and gone in to the community, maybe volunteered, and have done things other than within university, so try do something different.”
Think about how to build your CV beyond your studies
Another message from our alumni is that experience outside of the classroom can also enhance your CV:
“I think you need to have more than your degree. I think you have to have some sort of differentiator, whether it be…you know a society that you are a part of and a position on the committee. You know say you are a president or a secretary or…you know a bit of work experience…it doesn’t need to necessarily be related to the job you are applying for, but even if you can show that whilst you were at uni you were doing a part time job, and managing to balance your time, and managing to hold your grades whilst working long hours. I think that says so much more than saying ‘oh, I am on track for a first!’ I think…I think in the types of jobs that I was going for they wanted to be able to see that you were a worker.”
“Because like the job market is so competitive, just take all the opportunities you can. I did a lot of volunteering (in museums and archives), because I knew that was what I wanted to do…and I just feel like a lot of the extra-curricular things that is what is going to make you stand out…Because…you know…all those people, you can get the degree now but I think it is great to show that you are interested, just I guess kind of showing your different interests, your enthusiasm.”
Dissertations can lead onto bigger things
The Dissertation is a major commitment of time and energy starting from the end of stage 2 and for all of stage 3. Our alumni remember their dissertation experiences as highly formative ones, and even many years after graduating still feel the rollercoaster of emotions that the dissertation conjures up. But they also helped us see how sometimes dissertation topics can lead onto many other things:
“When I was looking at example CV's and covering letters, I just found that to be able to put that your dissertation was in a specific area, just shows that you are interested and passionate in that area. If you do know the area you are passionate in, I would say that base your dissertation on it, to show your interest.”
“and like just writing a 13,000 word dissertation... I think that independent study, going out, doing the interviews by myself, analyzing them, synthesizing it with the literature, and just forming this like really nice, stand-alone piece of work…alone, I think that has really helped me now because I am always, I need to be doing this all the time by myself…So I think that really helped. “
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the end of your degree and not sure of what happens next, you might feel reassured by what one of our PolSoc students who graduated in 2012 has this to say:
“Don’t panic. Don’t just think because you are coming to the end of your third year and you haven’t got a job lined up, and that it is the end of the world. Because it is not the end of the world... There is more out there to life than getting a job that pays 50 grand a year. Really there is, honestly. So yeah. Don’t panic: there is plenty of time and lots of things to do in life.”