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Changing your career path

People go to university with a career path in mind, and some people have no idea what they want to do, they just know what they enjoy. Both of these options are perfectly acceptable but I will be addressing the first group of people. What happens when you decide what you want to do with your career but then halfway through your degree you change your mind?

First of all, well done for realising that you weren’t on the right path! Better late than never. Also, evaluate why you aren’t happy. Is the course not what you expected, maybe its more competitive than you realised or it’s going to take longer than you wanted? Whatever the reason, you need to establish that you’re doing it for the right reasons. If you’re just having a bad day, and maybe you’ve been ill, never do anything when you’re angry or upset.

How to change your mind

Assess your interests and skills, decide where it is you feel you excel. From this you can consider alternative careers. It can help to discuss it with family or friends, maybe they’ll have a recommendation for a particular career you won’t have thought of. Use jobs sites like indeed to browse what is available. If you are constrained by geography then you need to factor in distance and how you will get there. Maybe you already have a particular job goal in mind in which case googling the job can really help you out.

Changing your degree is easily bureaucratically, but there are still rules regarding when you can do it and what you can change it too. If you want to go from history to physics then that might be problematic, but if you want to change from Classics to Ancient History then that is slightly easier. However, regarding time frame, most universities will say that is easier for you to change in your few weeks of your first year. Any later you want to change you either won’t be allowed to or you will have to change in the following September beginning as a first-year student particularly if you are changing departments. Universities still look at A levels. So, there will be some restrictions, for example, say you’ve done history, English literature and sociology at A level and achieved good grades, you went to university and did English but changed your mind and now you want to do biology. This would be considered slightly more difficult due to your lack of background in it. However, it would not be impossible, and your best bet would be to speak to your student services.

Changing your career later in life

Looking at a slightly later timeframe, if you change your mind about your degree after you graduate then there is nothing stopping you from going back to education. Equally important to remember is that a degree does not constrain you, it shows you have reached a certain level of education, a general aptitude for research and that you are able to write to a certain deadline. A degree is not designed to limit your career opportunities, instead it is there to help you. For example, I know someone who did a degree in botany but now they are a computer analyst. If you do change your mind about your career direction after you have already graduated, you can go back to your careers team at university, they are there to help you even after you graduate and they are the best people to give you advice.

There are no constraints

Equally, if you go to any careers fair, there will definitely be someone there who will tell you that they did a degree in one subject but have ended up working in an entirely different field. University helps you see the different areas you can go into. This is a clear example of why a careers fair is so important to attend. Many students arrive at university with ideas of teacher, police officer, journalist as careers and whilst these are incredibly noble, students don’t always realise what other professions are out there.

So, if you go to university aiming for a profession but after attending a careers fair you change your mind then there is nothing wrong with changing your degree. You don’t have to graduate at 21, just like you don’t have to go to university when you’re 18 if you’re not sure. There is no set life plan for you to follow, you just need to be happy and comfortable with where you are going.

However, if you do not know at all what you want to do, then changing your career path is not relevant to you. I would recommend instead making a decision though. It is important to have a goal; it has been proven that people who have a goal are the most successful. So, having something to aim for can mean your productivity is increased.

Your degree is not there for limitation, I would recommend if you are unsure you do a degree that is very far reaching, careers team or online forums can give you the advice you need. Doing a quite specific degree shouldn’t fence you in still but at interviews you may have to give more specific detail about how your degree will relate to that specific job. However, you shouldn’t use this as a reason to not do something you love, your degree is a big part of your future and a crucial part of it is that you enjoy it.  Therefore if you are unsure about your career path, speaking to someone can help you to clarify your journey.