Teaching: The Obvious Choice?

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As advisers, we see lots of students who are interested in going into teaching. For many, this is a well thought-through plan. Many students have experience of interacting with school-age children, have observed or helped out in schools, and have a realistic picture of teaching as a profession and how well they might be suited to it. However, for other students, discussion of why they want to teach often reveals a different picture.  It becomes clear that many feel they should go into teaching because they don’t know what their other options are. Some feel they should go into teaching because they need to do something using their degree subject, otherwise their degree “will have been a waste of time”.

Why does this happen? I think part of the reason is that teaching is a high profile profession – we have all been taught, and probably all think we have an idea of what being a teacher involves. It is therefore a career we all know about. While there are thousands of other careers out there, most are not as apparent or obvious as teaching. It is very difficult to know whether you will like a career unless you have some experience of it, or have at least met and spoken to someone working in that career. The result is that lots of people say they want to be teachers because it is the only career or profession they know much about.

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Teaching your subject at secondary level is an obvious choice for making direct use of your degree subject. However, I would suggest that this alone is not a good enough reason to go into teaching! There are many careers where you can make use of your degree subject, but are perhaps less obvious than teaching. Finding out about these will require research and effort – for some idea of where to start, have a look at the ideas at the end of this post.

You are not limited by your degree subject – you don’t have to go into a career that is related to your degree subject. Students are often surprised to hear this! Your options are probably wider than you think, as the majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates from any degree subject. Many employers tell us that they are often less concerned about your degree subject, but are more interested in the intrinsic added-value you will have gained from studying for a degree: analytical and critical thinking abilities, research skills, presentation skills, independence, project leadership, and so on. So while not all graduate jobs will be related to your degree subject, they will still require  you to use the skills and attributes you have gained from your degree.

So, what am I saying? Yes, teaching is a brilliant career, rewarding, challenging, interesting… However, it’s not for everyone, and it is just one of many rewarding, challenging and interesting careers out there! If you are one of those thinking you should teach because you don’t think you have any other options, here are some steps you could take:

and :

  • Book to see a Careers Adviser – talking all of this through with someone who is non-judgmental and unbiased can really help!

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Rachel Firth, Careers Adviser

Life after University: DON’T PANIC!

Ryan, an English and History student, tells us how he has come to realise that answering the question of what he is going to do with his life will take time ….

'Student Stories' Photo

As an English & History student in the early stages of my second year the time has come for me to confront the inescapable question that all students will have to address: “What do I want to do after I finish university?” This question is rather daunting for someone who is still coming to terms with the mystifying process of ironing. My first act was to make a list of the things that I truly enjoy: English and history (obviously), politics, music, Leadmill on a Monday and Friday, Continue reading

Choices choices… who would have guessed it?

Here Danny Farber, who is currently studying for a BA Hons in Business Studies, shares the story of his unexpected metamorphosis from ‘science geek’ to retailer extraordinaire in the making … and the influences that got him there:

One of the most important decisions in my lifetime has been what do I want to study at University!

When I was 16, I was a ‘Science geek’ who adored Motor Sport and would actually revel whenever I had the chance to talk about aerodynamics and possibilities on how to get more down force on the car (I still do by the way).  Thus when I joined Sixth Form, I studied Physics, Chemistry and Maths.  If you have never had the chance to study these, they are extremely difficult subjects to learn especially when you have all three together.

I was one of those ‘Science geeks’ who didn’t really do much revision when I had my GCSE’s but was successful, so when the first set of A-Levels exams came in the January and I had still kept the same revision timetable, it was a massive reality check. I ended up with 3 U’s, which was something I had never envisaged. So this was when I first started to question myself in my lifetime, and started to begin exploring possible other ventures. Obviously the number 1 lesson I learnt was that I had to work 100% harder, it was nowhere near the amount that I had to put in. I was well and truly humbled by this and went into my shell even more.

However, with lots more revision, when it came to the summer and after resits, I ended up with C’s across the board, which upon reflection was probably a big save after such a disastrous start. But even still, from that summer, that doubt and questioning was still on my mind. So when I had the chance to work in a supermarket part time, I grabbed it with both hands. (Luckily, my Auntie was a section leader there, so this confirms my theory, it’s who you know, not what you know).

Throughout my childhood, I was always seen as the brainy kid who is ‘useless’ working with his hands according to my Mum. So what would I be like in a Supermarket hustling and bustling to get done what was required of me? This is when I started to surprise myself and started to spot another opportunity. I found the work brilliant (and still do) and gained the confidence of my Section Leaders and Store Manager. But most importantly, my personality came out of its shell, where confident Danny was born and I would say where I began to mature even more as an adult.

So when applications for UCAS began for Universities, I had a massive dilemma! Do I go and study Orthoptics, Radiotherapy and Oncology, Motor Sports Engineering, or do I go and risk everything and go and study a subject I’ve never done at school, but have fallen in love with, due to my job? This was my list of courses I would have liked to have done, not which Universities I would like to attend, which was quite different to my peers.

You’ll have obviously guessed I risked it all. When researching all the possibilities, I noticed that the chance of me getting a job at the end of it, in that particular field, were slim. My confidence was and still is so high in Retail that I applied to study Business here. This confidence grew even more when my Manager offered me a Section Leader job a couple of weeks before A-Level results came out, but I knew University was something I wanted to do and that if I could show them how well I work, and the experience I keep gaining, to have a degree in Business at the side of my name, surely could make me a good candidate for getting one of these Manager jobs that I now crave.

So how am I getting on you ask? Quite well I would have to say. I managed to get an overall grade of 2:1 (64%) in my first year which gave me even more confidence particularly when I had achieved a higher grade compared to people who had studied Business at GCSE and A-Levels for instance. But I don’t think this is due to ability or intelligence, but the hard work ethic I have adopted since my ‘show up’ at Sixth Form and my time at ASDA. However, I would say I did significantly well because throughout my stay at University I have kept on working for my local Supermarket, balancing my time at Uni to work over 16 hours every week with a group of people who have and still give me more confidence in life, in a job that I am adore and even developing my own ideas on how I would run a Store if I ever get the opportunity (hopefully).