General Graduate Options
Approximately 50% of graduate vacancies are open graduates of any subject. Some may require some additional, specialist, post-graduate training but some do not. The list is extensive but includes fields as diverse as accountancy, IT, housing management and recruitment consultancy. You can get an idea of the variety of opportunities plus find year-long and summer work opportunities by looking on the graduate scheme websites.
Some typical roles open to all degree pathways:
Accountancy, Banking, Finance and Management Consultancy
This broad sector covers a range of different roles including Accountant, Investment Banker, Retail Banker, Insurance Broker, Pensions Consultant and Financial Adviser. Prospects: Accountancy, Banking and Finance has role profiles with more details about each of these areas. A number of large professional services firms offer a range of graduate opportunities including Management Consultancy and Accountancy. These firms are interested Law graduates due to their analytical, research and communication skills. Interested students are recommended to find opportunities to build their commercial awareness and business understanding.
There are lots of opportunities to gain relevant experience in these areas while you are a student:
- Some organisations (e.g. PwC) run 2 day Talent Academies for Level 1 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1);
- There are lots of summer internship opportunities for Level 2 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1);
- Graduate schemes in this area are usually open to graduates of any degree discipline.
Any additional opportunities to develop your business/commercial awareness such as City Scholars, the London Finance Study Tour, Stock Market Challenge and Insight into Management would be beneficial. Keep an eye on MyFuture for details.
Civil Service and Public Sector roles
The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated training and development programme for graduates, placing them into a variety of departments within the Civil Service. There are various recruitment streams available including Central Departments, Diplomatic Service, Houses of Parliament and the Government Social Research Service which specifically recruits social science students. Other graduate opportunities exist in GB with the National Health Service and in NI through the Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland Training Schemes. If you are interested in working for a local government authority consider The National Graduate Development Programme.
Social Care Sector
A law degree generally allows access to entry for graduate social work conversion courses. The Northern Ireland Social Care Council has information on becoming a social worker in Northern Ireland. Prospects: Social Care provides a good overview of the sector as a whole with job profiles available for roles such as Advice Worker, Care Manager, Community Development Worker, Probation Officer and Youth Worker. For all roles building up relevant experience is really important so take some time to volunteer during your degree programme. The Volunteernow website is a really good resource for finding voluntary opportunities in Northern Ireland. Skills for Care run a national graduate management training scheme if you are interested in pursuing a management career in the care sector. There are also fast track Social Work graduate training schemes that may be of interest if you are studying for a degree other than social work; these include Frontline and Think Ahead.
Criminal Justice, Defence and Public Protection
Prospects: Law Enforcement and Security and Skills for Justice provide a good overview of this area of work. If you are interested in policing you can apply directly to a local police service or consider Police Now which is a national graduate leadership development programme. Similarly for the role of Prison Officer you can apply to your local prison service or consider NOMS: The National Offender Management Service Graduate Scheme. Other possible areas of work include MI5 and GCHQ or armed forces – see Army Careers, Royal Air Force Careers and Royal Navy Careers.
If you are interesting in contributing to the body of knowledge about your subject, a career in research is worth considering. Research Councils UK have a collection of case studies of researchers which give an insight into life as a researcher and the different career paths some researchers take. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. A postgraduate qualification (most often a PhD) is likely to be required. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.
In Schools: A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. To qualify in Northern Ireland PGCE providers currently look for an academic degree subject linked to the Northern Ireland curriculum. Law students are therefore encouraged to research opportunities in England via www.ucas.com for eg Primary PGCE.
PGCE courses are competitive to get into so interested students are recommended to:
- Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach– usually gained through voluntary work
- Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job and try to get some classroom observation experience. You may also be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where you were taught. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application.
- Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section
- Apply early
- These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview
The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is an official and prestigious Japanese government scheme that sends graduates to Japan in order to promote international understanding at grass-roots level and to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Although participants teach English to school pupils, applicants for the programme can come from any degree discipline providing they hold a full UK passport. It is a tough application process that begins in the October preceding the departure the following summer.
The TET (Teach English in Thailand) programme offers students and recent graduates a 9 week placement opportunity as a Teaching Assistant in Thailand.
In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without them having teaching qualifications. These teachers will often be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and will be expected to have other relevant (vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites. You can find a list of colleges on the Department of Education Northern Ireland website.
In Higher Education: University lecturers will normally be expected to have or be working towards a PhD. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.
The Charity and Voluntary Sector
This sector encompasses a variety of roles as detailed in Prospects: Charity and Voluntary Work
If this sector is of interest to you then it is important to undertake some voluntary work experience while at university; for local opportunities Volunteernow is a really good resource. Organisations that offer graduate schemes in this sector include Cancer Research UK, Charity Works, Wellcome, Sanctuary Group and IntoUniversity.
As HR roles exist in all types of organisations, any kind of work experience is useful. Many large organisations such as BT and Rolls Royce run graduate schemes through which graduates undertake CIPD-accredited HR qualifications. Many organisations also typically offer student internships and placement opportunities in HR, so one of the best places to find student and graduate opportunities is through typical graduate websites.
Purchasing, Logistics and Supply Chain
The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) have some information about graduate careers in this area. These job profiles on the prospects site provide more information on some individual roles: Purchasing Manager, Retail Buyer, Logistics and Distribution Manager.
There are a number of graduate schemes in this area with employers such as Marks and Spencer and other larger retailers but student placements and internships may be harder to find. Those that are available will be advertised on the main graduate websites. For Fashion buying, employers tend to look for a Fashion-related degree.
In addition to running graduate schemes in many of the areas mentioned above (Finance, Human Resources, and Purchasing) large retailers also run schemes in store management. That includes some of the big retailers in Ireland (Musgrave and Henderson Group). Employers prefer candidates who are willing to be geographically mobile. Graduate opportunities can be easily found on the main graduate websites. Placements and internships in this area are less common, but part-time work in retail is a great way to get relevant experience.
How do I make a decision?
There isn’t one right way to make a career decision, but there are a few things worth doing and worth considering in order to make an informed choice:
- Don’t think you have to choose just one option – instead a shortlist of preferred options can be a useful strategy. Transferable skills can be gained from any type of work experience, so even if your work experience relates to one area, that won’t restrict you from moving into a different area.
- Think about what is important to you and look for evidence of those things when exploring your options e.g. if it is a priority for you to stay in Northern Ireland, look at the Relevant Job Websites for career areas that interest you to see how many job adverts you can find for that type of work here.
- The above are just a few of the options related to your degree area. It isn’t a comprehensive list. Spend some time exploring the Relevant Job Websites to find other job titles and areas.
- Look at LinkedIn’s alumni tool (Topic 5 on the LinkedIn for students website) to see the career paths of alumni on LinkedIn.
- Speak to company representatives at on campus events (including fairs and employer presentations). Keep an eye on MyFuture for these opportunities.
- Need more information – approach any contacts you have, or speculatively approach companies, to set-up an information interview.
- If you’ve managed to successfully make use of an information interview, you could ask for a brief period of work-shadowing, i.e. observing someone while they work. As little as a few hours of work-shadowing can give you a real insight into a job and company, and it is often easier for a company to agree to this than it would be to agree to a period of work experience.
- Still can’t decide? Sometimes you can only truly get a feel for whether a certain job is for you by trying it out. Short-term work experience for students is a great method for trying-out different jobs and companies - see "What can I do to Go Further?" to find relevant opportunities. If you are a graduate, remember, even a permanent job isn’t necessarily a job for life!
If you’d like to discuss any of this with a Careers Consultant please book an appointment through MyFuture.