Unexpected places your degree can take you

When you choose to study at UON, there are usually three reasons for doing so:

  • You enjoy the course content
  • You’re aiming for a specific career path
  • You’re here for the ride

In every degree, there’s often a traditional career pathway with an emphasis on specific jobs depending on your major or directed courses. While it can be easy to start thinking ‘I’m not going to get my dream job’, this could actually be a good thing. Your dream job may not even exist yet, so remember not to limit yourself. We spoke with a couple of UON graduates on how they’ve found themselves in careers which diverge from the expected path.

Entrepreneur Alert!

You might be thinking, ‘I don’t want to work in an existing organisation’ or ‘I’d like to be my own boss!’. If that’s you, STAR4000 is the course you’ve been looking for. It is a uniquely structured course developed in collaboration with accelerator company Slingshot, focusing on entrepreneurship and you guessed it – innovation!

While ‘innovation’ seems to be one of those buzz words pushed onto us by politicians, it is actually incredibly important for your future career.

According to Manager of Entrepreneurship and I2N at UON, Micky Pinkerton, “65 per cent of today’s students will be employed in jobs that doesn’t exist yet”.

“Those statistics can be a bit scary to someone trying to decide what to do at uni, but students can prepare for this by developing their enterprise skills in addition to the technical skills they learn in whichever degree they’re doing,” she said.

Skills such as design thinking, critical thinking and problem solving are becoming increasingly valued by traditional graduate employers, who are realising that they need to embed innovation within their culture and develop their ‘intrapreneurs’ to keep their business relevant in the future.

Bachelor of Business graduate, Ella, decided to enrol in STAR4000 as previously there hadn’t been anything like it.

“STAR4000 was particularly helpful in the beginning with the business planning side of things. The Lean Canvas was the main tool I used to nut out my perfect customer and discover the key objectives behind the business,” she said.

Fully implementing the skills she learnt as part of this course, Ella has now done away with the 9-5 grind, running her own start-up business ‘The Muffin Mob’.

“We found our niche market of vegan products and also discovered the rapid increase in demand for these kinds of products. Now we work a few hours baking in the morning, we then deliver the muffins and are finished work for the day around 8am! We then have the rest of the day to learn new skills or work on other projects which interest us.”

Communications Consultant for the UN

While Arts based degrees are sometimes (unjustifiably) criticised for being too generalist in nature, this can actually work to your advantage when looking for a job. Nick Turner who graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts, studying a double major in Film, Media and Cultural Studies and English and Writing, is now working for the United Nations Development Fund (UNDF) in Papua New Guinea.

That’s right – the UN!!!

Nick commented that he, “initially began a Bachelor of Commerce when I first started university, but was finding that it wasn’t really for me. After a stint working overseas I came home with the mindset of looking to do a degree with a bit of variety, and the Bachelor of Arts was what offered that.”

“I had never really known what I wanted to do, and in many ways I still don’t know what it is I want to do. I have always had an interest in working in development, so I’m lucky to be working with the United Nations. But I certainly had no clear career objectives when starting out my degree.”

As part of his role as a Communications Consultant, Nick presents human interest stories as well as creates video content to showcase the UNDF PNG’s work across web and social media platforms.

Nick’s number one piece of career advice is not to be afraid of moving to get a start in your chosen field.

“Newcastle is such a fantastic city, and in many ways it’s an incredibly difficult place to leave. But you need to look at as many opportunities as you can, in as many different places as they may appear both in Australia and overseas,” he said.

So who said an Arts degree can’t get you a job?

An Academic

For those of you studying degrees in the Faculty of Business and Law, you might be influenced by the idea that jobs are usually within a commercial environment. But there are numerous other pathways your degree can take you.

Briony Johnston studied a combined Bachelor of Communication/Bachelor of Laws with a Diploma of Legal Practice, and is studying her Master of Laws before pursuing a PHD. She is now working as an academic here at UON.

This success came about for Briony due to her interest in Law towards the end of high school. She was motivated by the way a law degree enabled “you to help others and interact with people from all walks of life.”

Briony was lucky enough to work in a law firm while completing her degree, as well as gaining “experience as a PASS Leader and Research Assistant while I was studying.” Such experiences led her down the path of academia, where she is able to help students on a daily basis.

For those interested in pursuing a career in Law, Briony recommends not making the mistake of “thinking a Law degree only leads you down one path.”

“There are so many jobs that you can pursue, whether in private practice, in-house counsel, community legal centres, government positions, research roles, teaching, or advisory postings. Your options really are endless, you just need to find the one that suits you best!”

So if you don’t know what you want to do with your degree, that’s ok. Challenge yourself and stick to your passions! Also, if you have a dream job in mind, branch out and take the initiative. You might just end up getting your dream job by being in the right place at the right time. For further information on some jobs your degree can lead you towards, visit UON Degrees to Careers.


For more Information:

STAR4000 – Innovation, Startups and Entrepreneurship

Some Career Path for Law Degrees

Looking to change the world? Consider a career in aid and development