Post-Grad Dilemma: What To Do When Your Degree Isn’t Working For You

I started university when I was seventeen years old. Thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of studying, four years and one arts degree later, I am still only twenty-two years old and not entirely sure of what direction I want to take my career in. If I could do it all again, I would probably do it differently. I am sure that I’m not the only one.

Many university and college grads finish their degree or diploma and realize that they are not at all interested in building a career in their field of study. In most cases, it is not financially possible or practical to start another three or four year degree or diploma.

The good news is that it’s probably not necessary to start another degree or diploma. The skills you gain in most arts, science or business degrees are transferable to many careers. Reality is that once you have some practical work experience, employers will be less interested in your degree.

Here are four ways that I’ve made my degree more valuable.

1) Take a Course at a College or University

When I graduated from my English and Global Studies degree, I decided I would have loved to completed a journalism degree. Rather than investing the time and money into a full post-grad college or university program, I took one course at a journalism school. I gained some new skills, great job search tips and was able to add more value to my resume.

Check out your local community college or university for continuing education options that suit your interests. Continuing education classes are often taught by people working in the field; a great resource to figure out what your next step should be.

2) Intern or Volunteer

Even if your degree is targeted towards your career, a degree is usually not enough to get the job. If you can show genuine interest, commitment and the willingness to learn, you can find an internship or volunteer position that will get you working in the industry and making network connections to boost your career.

You will probably need to work for free but you’ll gain great valuable experience without the price tag of another diploma or degree.

3) Use Your Degree!

If you have a science degree but don’t want to write a lab report or enter a lab again, you can still put your degree to work through different avenues.  For example, if you have a life science degree but want to work in communications, look for communications work at a pharmaceutical company or a hospital. In combination with a continuing education class or an internship, your practical science knowledge will give you a great edge over people with a communications or public relations degree.

4) Take Your Time

Be patient. This is my most important piece of advice.

Don’t settle into a career just because that is what your degree prepared you for. You are going to need to work for nearly the rest of your life. Taking five years to sort out what your really want to do will be well worth it during the next twenty to thirty years of your career. Work your way up, take an extra course, do an internship and learn how to boast your transferable skills.

What have you done to make your degree more valuable? Would you do it all over again if you could?

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