Student panel: Career Aspirations

Katrina Scotford

Studying a joint honours course at university in philosophy and politics is often met with some concern from those I tell, with their worry stemming from the idea that I am studying half of my degree in philosophy. ‘What could you possibly do with a degree in philosophy?’ they ask. I usually reply by explaining that, while there is no straightforward career path in philosophy, it is a broad and wide-ranging degree in the sense that it prepares you for any career that requires communication, logical and critical thinking, and an open mind; all of which are characteristics that any employer would find advantageous.

With the combination of philosophy and politics, which I find to be very synonymous, I have considered either working within a branch of the United Nations or NGOs, focusing on the Middle Eastern section of the world. My personal preference since the age of having to consider careers has been that I wouldn’t be a part of the nine-to-five office job circle, which I felt would be unsatisfying. Therefore, when I chose my degree, I had in the back of my mind what kind of job I could thrive in, and what I wouldn’t be able to tolerate. I was able to deduce that working a common yet financially secure cubicle job wouldn’t do, and decided I wanted to be a part of something larger; something that had the bigger picture in mind and worked for causes benefiting the struggling areas of the world. 

I have always been quite ‘hands-on’ in my work ethic, and was skilled at combining taking the initiative, with expressing compassion for people. Once I realised this, I was able to narrow down the career paths that exemplified a combination of leadership with empathy, and landed on international organisations such as the UN, IRC (International Rescue Committee), and an overarching interest with NGOs.

The summer before I started university, I read a biography about Gertrude Bell, an incredible woman who explored previously uncharted territory in the Middle East during the early 1900s. She became a source of inside information for the British Government when the borders of the Middle Eastern countries were beginning to take shape. Her independence and fearlessness in the face of a very conservative time and country was inspiring for my own ideas of working with organisations in the same area.

Having come to these conclusions analogously with choosing my degree, I felt that my degree complemented my career interests. While your ideas for careers are always open to changing and evolving, I felt that a degree in philosophy and politics could be beneficial to a range of careers in the workplace, such as journalism, marketing, and even entrepreneurship. 

I think it’s important to realise no degree guarantees you will work directly in the field you have studied, and to keep an open mind about different careers you might not have initially considered. At the same time, don’t feel pressured to have specific ideas, because that’s one of the reasons you are at university for three years: to grow and come to better understand yourself! So, simply enjoy your degree and explore as much as you can at university, to find the best career fit for when you graduate.

Andrew Richards

At the moment, I am hoping to work towards employment in graphic design by studying an HND qualification. I became interested in graphic design after touching on it while studying a foundation degree nearly 20 years go.

The decision to study it again was brought on by a recent move I made, to support my partner in her new job in Birmingham. Doing this has meant I had to leave my old career, friends, and family, plus I have lost my financial security. However, it has presented an opportunity to start again and take my life in a new creative direction, with the support of my partner. 

Since beginning the course, my eyes have opened to the many different specialist areas graphic design covers, and the skills I will need in the workplace. I have become very interested in environmental design, something I knew nothing of before the course.

Charlotte Dyer

My career aspiration is to one day present and produce a radio show at one of the leading radio broadcasters. I arrived at this aspiration from actually touring around BBC Newcastle, with my sight set on being a producer for TV programmes. But I ended up falling in love with the radio aspect of the BBC. This is what originally inspired me into this career path, and when looking further into it, I realised there was so much that can be done within this sector of the media industry. 

Listening to Radio One presenter Chris Stark, who like me started working on hospital radios, and made his way up to BBC Radio One with Scott Mills, showed me that if I work hard enough, I too can potentially achieve this. Since starting my degree, my career aspirations haven’t changed much, as I still want to work predominantly in the radio industry. I would also love to do podcasts, as this was something I hadn’t experienced before going to university. 

By studying my media production degree, it is ideal to know the technology that is used, and this is the main way to gain the required work experience to get your foot in the industry. But, I am also doing my degree to dabble into other areas that I may not have considered beforehand, like podcasts and advertising.

Collette Dunn

I trained as a nurse following school, and then spent many years nursing and managing residential homes for adults with learning disabilities. The birth of my first child prompted me to seek ‘baby friendly’ career options, and I started a community magazine, became a part-time content writer, and worked as a teaching assistant at my son’s school, all of which could be worked part-time and flexibly. Now that my youngest children (twins) are seven, I have a desire to create a career around childbirth. I considered midwifery, but then came across the birth and beyond degree, supported by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).  

The degree is standalone, but it will also allow me to become a practitioner for the NCT, once qualified. Due to the haphazard, minimal and often conflicting support I received during my own birth experiences, I feel keen to ‘give back’ by being involved with a charity which supports families, both antenatally and postnatally. I’m really enjoying the degree so far, and have spent some time observing NCT practitioners, which has enabled me to be sure that I have chosen a degree which supports my future career aspirations.

In our second year, we choose to specialise in our individual areas of interest. We can choose to train as an antenatal practitioner, postnatal practitioner, breastfeeding counsellor, baby yoga practitioner, baby massage practitioner, or doula. I haven’t totally made up my mind yet, put feel drawn to supporting families in the postnatal period.

The NCT offers a wide range of career opportunities, and graduating with a birth and beyond degree will allow me to access what’s available.

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