Is it Worthwhile Getting a Degree?

Nowadays, a large percentage of the population will go to university to attain a degree qualification. But is it worthwhile? There are many arguments for and against gaining a degree. Here are some of the main questions to consider when deciding whether to study for a degree:

  • Do you have a particular career in mind? If you do, find out about the best ways to get into it. You should be able to find out plenty of information online. If you’d be better off gaining experience, you might want to look into volunteering or other relevant jobs as stepping stones towards your goal.
  • Do you want to carry on studying? Ultimately, you should only carry on studying if it’s something you enjoy. If you don’t, there are plenty of other options.
  • Are you happy to take on the financial commitment? University can be extremely expensive. You can get a loan to cover your fees and living costs, and repayments are relatively small, but the downside is that you’ll probably be paying it back throughout the majority of your career.
  • Will a degree further your career? Even if you don’t know exactly what it is that you want to do, a degree will most likely come in useful at some point. You gain transferable skills, and it shows that you’re a dedicated, capable of learning to a high level and can work independently.
  • Do I need a degree for most careers? A lot of employers will now require a degree. Even if they don’t, a degree may give you an edge over another candidate. If you don’t have a particular career in mind, which would require specific training or qualifications, a general degree can be beneficial because it will give you lots of different options for your future.

Training on the Job

With the prevalence of internships and apprenticeships, it’s becoming more common than ever to train on the job. They are available across many different job sectors, offering manual hands-on work right through to office roles. You will often be able to gain a qualification for your efforts. It’s a brilliant way to get into an industry.

You don’t necessarily have to start from scratch to learn new skills at work, however – a career change can often be based on many of the current skills that you already possess. Many employers value experience, even if it isn’t in the exact same field as you currently work. For example, if you can prove that you have worked with a wide range of people and can handle deadlines and a little bit of pressure, these are real-life skills which employers will recognise. Previous experience in the workplace shows that you’re able to apply yourself to new tasks and learn new skills, so don’t be put off from applying for jobs just because it’s not something you have exact experience of. They’ll often be looking for someone to fit into a pre-existing team, and if you can show that you’re able to do this, they’ll be happy to teach you new skills along the way.

If you’re looking for your first job out of university, college or school, again don’t be put off by your lack of direct experience. Many employers are happy to take on new graduates. Show that you’re enthusiastic and emphasise how well you were able to learn whilst in education, and this will get you a long way.

The grass isn’t always greener…

The phrase the ‘grass isn’t always greener’ should never deter you from making a bold decision on your career. If for example, you’re looking to leave a position but you’re not quite brave enough, you may be tempted to put your tail between your legs and return the following day as usual, because ‘the grass isn’t always greener’.

So many people have turned down some quite amazing opportunities because they weren’t brave enough to leave their employers. If you’re not entirely happy, then you should be looking elsewhere and you have to be brave enough to take it if the right opportunity comes. If you let it slip, you could find yourself stuck in a dead end job regretting it each and every day.

If you leave and don’t like the next job, at least you tried it and there’s a good chance you will have learned something new along the way. You only learn things about yourself when you challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

Is it really about who you know?

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many skills or qualifications you have, if you know someone who’s high up in a business, there’s a chance you can get a good job with them. Contacts are obviously crucial when you’re developing your career, and you never know when or if you’re going to need them, but there are many businesses out there that have employed people they know on merit.

It’s upsetting for some, as they may see another individual (without the qualifications or skills they have) exceeding them in a career, and you can feel like you’re hard done by. That said, it’s even more of a reason why you should aim to develop as many contacts in your industry as possible, because you may one day be the one who’s taking huge strides forwards thanks to knowing a certain someone.

In most jobs, it’s not ‘who you know’, and there’s almost always going to be certain skills required, but you can be favoured for knowing somebody in a business, so keep developing those contacts.

Developing your own Portfolio

While not the the case for every profession, in certain professions, such as those centred in design, having your own portfolio of work is absolutely necessary for an interview. While others may only need to have a full history of employment, for practical jobs such as with product or web design, being able to show off besides simply saying “this place was very happy with the work I did for them over the two years I was employed there” will demonstrate your abilities far more readily to any potential employer.

Building your portfolio up isn’t such as simple task either. You want to be presenting a series of projects that you’ve been involved with as well as ones which you’ve done on your own; sometimes this will mean doing work in your own time so that it can become a part of your portfolio. You also want to make it really diverse as well, so that any employer will see you as adaptable and having a diverse set of skills; and therefore more valuable as an employee.