Careering into the future (ha…ha…)

Your life at uni hasn’t even started yet and you’re already being asked to think about life after uni?! What is this madness?

Sadly, it’s rather important madness. Unless you’re studying Law, Medicine, Advanced Chair Mechanics or something like that, chances are you aren’t 100% certain where your degree is going to take you. That’s definitely not a problem; trust me, the vast majority of uni students have very little idea of what they’re going to do once we’ve got a photo of ourselves jumping in the air in those fancy graduation robes, and those who do know their direction are regarded with immense respect and / or envy.

But unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve had barked at you by various teachers / parents / random adults who think our generation is lazy and self-entitled, having a degree in itself isn’t a guarantee of success in the job market these days. Even if you’re not sure what job (or jobs) you want to spend your life doing, having some work experience, maybe an internship, a part-time job, or even getting seriously involved in a society whilst at uni will really help you stand out from the slightly overwhelming crowd of keen, debt-ridden graduates.

BUT I’m not trying to scare or depress you (I promise) – help is at hand! Luckily, every good uni has a decent Careers Department, and it’s their entire job to help YOU get a job once (or even before) you leave university. At York, the Careers team organise a seriously impressive number of events, talks, conferences, workshops and fairs throughout the academic year, not to mention the things that individual departments do. Just to give you an idea, I’ve been to a lecture and Q&A on working in the not-for-profit sector, and had a one-on-one meeting with a Careers advisor who works on their placements, who talked me through all the options and gave me loads of helpful things to look into.

The Department of Music also has a member of staff specifically designated as Careers Officer, who sends us emails (so. many. emails. I mean it, if you become part of the music department you’ll get an amazing number of emails, but annoyingly they’re almost all very useful – from Lost and Found notices to info about local concerts, uni events and academic help) with information about the music-specific careers events being organised. Music is obviously a broad subject in its own way; some people go on to be performers or music teachers, but also therapists, community workers, artistic managers, and countless other areas; and having people help to clarify how to make the most of our degree when looking into the world of work has been extremely reassuring and helpful. But the careers events and info not specific to department are also so, so useful, just in getting a sense of what to be doing alongside your degree but also where you might want to go next.

Yeah. You know what he's saying.
Yeah. You know what he’s saying.

One warning; you will be often bombarded with desperate and / or weary pleas for you to DO things. All the Careers Department can do is help you find your way and tell you what’s advisable; the actual CV-boosting has to be done by us, the noodle-fuelled students. It might seem like a degree in itself is a ginormous undertaking – and I’m not saying you’re going to be twiddling your thumbs – but there’s definitely time to join a society or five, and maybe have a go on a committee; get a weekend job or volunteer for a while; apply for some internships and placements. The York Careers team do a lot of the work for us, organising a serious number of ready-made placements (volunteer-based, such as libraries and schools, but also paid (!!!) internships) which you can do during holidays or actually in term-time, just a few hours a week. All you have to do is apply and keep your fingers crossed.

I don’t want to join the clamour of scary voices saying you need to make the MOST of EVERY SECOND of your degree and DO EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, but I wanted to show you how much support there is at York and how easy it can be, really, to do a little fattening-up of the old CV. You’ll regret it if you don’t, but also you might really enjoy it; who wants to just go to lectures for three years?! Find something you love, and just do it. You have nothing to lose except time spent doing Buzzfeed quizzes telling you what vegetable you are…

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Hi! I'm a second-year music student at York, orginally from London. I currently live with three other second-years in a smallish house, ten minutes' cycle from campus and from the hotel where I work as a part-time waitress. In first year I lived in Eric Milner-White, a self-catered block in Vanbrugh college, and it was great! I love the campus, and my department is fabulous, and York itself is wonderful. I'm very happy to help people decide if York, and music, is right for them the way it has been for me, and I'll try to convey my enthusiasm for it all without ignoring the inevitable tricky bits! University isn't (like any big part of your life) going to be absolutely plain sailing, but nor does it have to be terrifying or impossible. Get in touch if you have any questions and good luck with your decisions!