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September 29, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Stop Thinking About What Career You Want. Think About What Career You Don’t Want!

By Emily Oxbury, MA History student blogger

The dreaded question, “what do you want to do when you leave university?” usually leaves me replying with a nervous chuckle and the words “I’m not really sure”. But do I really have absolutely no idea like I so often say?

I’ve learned to accept over the past few months when searching for part time work, that having a set career path in mind is not the be all and end all. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how fragile the job market can be, and put into perspective for me how rapidly new jobs and careers can be either created or crushed. There’s undoubtedly hundreds of careers out there that you can be completely unaware of, until you stumble across it at a careers fair or whilst online job hunting.

However, perhaps instead of asking the question of what do you want to do, we should frame it differently. What do you not want to do? Personally, I find this a much less daunting approach as it somewhat narrows down my options of future careers. For example – take into account TV shows and movies you have watched – would I like to be a pathologist like on Silent Witness? Certainly not, I hate blood and gore. Would I like to make a monumental mark on history like in Hidden Figures? Absolutely! Making a positive impact on the world is an absolute must for me in any job.

If thinking about TV shows and movies doesn’t work for you, try to think about friends and relatives and the types of careers they are pursuing. Perhaps your Uncle loves his job because he always gets to travel, or maybe home comforts are your thing and you’d prefer a job that allows you to work from home in the cosiness of your study.

If all else fails, just take a look at the world around you! Careers are everywhere, from the bus driver responsible for getting you from home to university every day, to people moderating your social media posts; the designer of that new dress you bought, to the curator of the latest museum exhibition you visited. When you start to break down those responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of everyday activities, you soon understand the phrase is true – the world really is your oyster!

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve come to appreciate that no one expects me to answer confidently and definitely to the aforementioned ‘dreaded question’, but that I perhaps have a better idea of the answer than I initially thought.

When considering the various careers I’ve strictly decided are not for me, I can conclude a few key points about my career goals for when I leave university:

1. I want to make a positive difference to the world, be it helping one person or an entire population.

2. Teamwork and working collectively is a must for me – I can’t imagine myself in a job where I am my own boss and only colleague!

3. I’d love a job where the nature of it means every day is different, keeping me inspired and engaged.

So next time you’re asked what you want to do later in life and you’re stuck for an answer, perhaps consider what you don’t want to do first!

If you’re still unsure on where to begin with your career search, find out how the Careers team can help.

Posted in Careers AdviceStudent Bloggers