Exploring options video

Exploring options

Knowing what opportunities are available to you is a key element of career planning. Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive list of these related to you degree and if you search for jobs or research position on the internet, you may be overwhelmed with information. This page has been written to help you put some structure into your opportunity research. It links closely with the careers planning page, and helps you to move through a process to gather information so that you can ultimately decide on what you want career is right for you. 

Start by watching the Careers Snaphot: Exploring Options video opposite and then use the links on this page to explore further. 

Your degree will open up a huge range of opportunities for you, both within the subject you have studied and beyond. This is because the UK labour market focuses on the skills you’ve gained from your programme, both technical and transferable e.g. communication, problem solving, teamworking.  While this means you have many options, it can also make it difficult to narrow it down to what you want to do.

To help with this you could try following a three-stage process: 

  1. Look online 
  2. Talk to someone 
  3. Try it out 

To help you work through the large amount of content available the tabs below expand on each stage and provide some key starting points. You can add your ideas and track your progress using your Plan: Me if you like. 

Exploring options

Look online

There is a huge range of information online so below are a few key websites that are written by reliable sources. These websites are quite general, giving you a broad overview of roles. Once you have identified roles you are interested in, use links from the below resources and more specific google searches to research further.  

  • Prospects – written by careers professionals and contains job sector information and over 400 job profiles. These profiles aren’t advertisements, they take you through what you’d do in a role, what skills you might need etc. You could start with the prospects career planner tool which is a short quiz and will give you some ideas of roles that might fit with your interests. At the base of each job profile there is a list of related jobs which can help you to broaden out your research. 
  • What can I do with my degree? – written by the careers consultant related to your department, these contain links and information about students who have studied your degree commonly move into. You can also look at other departments information if you study areas that cross over, or you are interested in careers that may traditionally be linked to a different degree (e.g. Maths students interested in software development might want to look at both maths and computing) 
  • Targetjobs – written by careers professionals. Target is more commercially focused with job advertisements being very easy to find but there is good content in their ‘careers advice’ section where they outline job sectors and roles in similar way to prospects 
  • Vitae – targeting and written for the research community, Vitae’s career section has information on PhD and Postdoc careers inside and outside of academia 
  • LinkedIn – whilst LinkedIn is primarily known as a networking website, you can also use it help you better understand different roles and how other people have progressed in their career to get these roles. Use the job/research titles you find on websites like prospects and search in LinkedIn to help bring these to life by seeing people who are actually doing them.  


Talk to someone

While looking online can help give you the basics of a career, talking to someone who has knowledge of that career will allow you to ask your own questions and find out the most up to date information available. There are tips on how to structure a conversation like this which can be called an informational interview, on our interviews page. Below are some useful ways of finding someone relevant to talk to: 

  • Ask people you already know and trust. You already have a good network of people that include your family, your personal tutor, your friends and other lecturers and tutors you’ve meet. Ask if they know anyone working in the role you’re interested in. 
  • LinkedIn – allows you to connect with people who are currently doing a role you may be interested in. This is next step after you’ve used LinkedIn to better understand different roles and organizations. 
  • Industry association websites – almost every role you may want to have a career in will have a professional association related to it e.g. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical industry or Engineering Council. These websites often have lists of members that can be useful in finding organizations that work in this field and understanding progression pathways. Try a google search or many are listed on our What can I do with my degree pages. 
  • Careers events – We run a range of events that allow you to connect with and talk to organisations including careers fairs, employer events, careers forums and skills workshops.  


Try it out

The ultimate way to understand if a career is right for you is to try it out. Realistically, this isn’t always possible or practical however below are some ideas to help. 

  • Work experience – if you are earlier on in your degree, you may want to use your summers to complete an internship, a UROP or work within the industry you are interested in. 
  • Online internships or experiences – some organisations offer an online or on demand experience that you maybe able to access at a time that suits you. While these aren’t the same as doing a full work experience, they can help you to better understand what you may be asked to do in a role. You can find a list of providers in the remote opportunities section on our work experience page. 
  • Work shadowing – if you aren’t able to do a full work experience, you maybe able to ask an organization or a connection you have if you are able to shadow them for a short period of time and observe what they do. If this is possible will depend on the role and practical work arrangements. If you are in first year, you can apply to be part of our work shadowing scheme. 
  • Think broadly – it may not always be possible to try out an exact role as a student. However if you breakdown the role your interested in, could there be a way to test out parts of it? For example, if you’re interested in a role that will involve working with clients, a job in customer service could help you to understand what this might be like. Or if you’re interested in working in data analysis, could there be a competition you could get involved in to explore that? Our competitions and awards page has a list of opportunities.