Career Options- Social Sciences & Social Work

  • Career Options- Social Sciences & Social Work

Destinations of QUB graduates

A survey of graduates 6 months after graduation reveals that QUB graduates from Social Sciences and Social Work have recently gone into the following…

Social Sciences (Jobs): Deputy Coordinator, Support Worker, Civil Servant, Mortgage Consultant, Police Officer, Statistical Officer, Graduate Associate, Trainee Graduate Manager, Pharmacy Assistant Technician

Social Sciences (Further Study includes): PGCE Primary, BSc Children's Nursing, BSW Social Work, LLM Criminal Justice, LLM Human Rights Law, LLM International Business Law, MA Violence, Terrorism and Security, MRes Social Research Methods, MSc Human Resource Management, MSc Leadership and Sustainable Development, MSc Youth Justice, Pgce Sociology.  

Social Work (Jobs): Most students are working as Social Workers therefore the job titles listed only include alternative ‘Social Worker’ job titles and other roles. Low Threshold Harm Reduction Manager, Project Worker, Community Support Officer, Probation Officer, Accomodation Support Worker, Regional Manager Vistims and Survivors, Family Support Worker
Social Work (Further Study): MSc Applied Social Studies

As with all programmes at all universities, some graduates have not gone into graduate level work. Recent roles have included: Classroom Assistant, Lifeguard, Learning Support Assistant and Sales Assistant.

There can be many reasons to explain this including saving for further study, getting relevant work experience, wanting to take some time-out, but often it is due to a lack of career planning prior to graduating. Reviewing these careers resources and taking advantage of opportunities to Go Further will help to ensure that you fulfil your career potential. If you wish to book an appointment to discuss your options and plan your career you can do this through myfuture.

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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 in Social Science, Criminology and Social Work 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.

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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 Generalist, 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.

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Social Care Sector

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 FrontlineThink Ahead and Step Up to Social Work

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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, MI6, The National Crime Agency and GCHQ or armed forces – see Army Careers, Royal Air Force Careers and Royal Navy Careers.

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Law

To become a solicitor or barrister in Northern Ireland you need to complete a qualifying law degree. If you have a degree other than law you can apply to complete a law conversion course here at Queen’s. Alternatively you can apply to complete a Graduate Diploma in Law in England or Wales or if you are interested in practising law in Scotland you will need to complete a two year graduate entry LLB.  Whatever route you choose it is vital to arrange some law-related work experience to demonstrate a genuine interest and understanding of this area of work. For ideas on how to find work experience and further information about next steps to becoming a solicitor or barrister see Prospects: Law and Careers Information by School: Law

*Please note that from no earlier than 2020 qualifying as a solicitor will change - see the Solicitor Regulation Authority  

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Research

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.

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Teaching

In Schools: A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. The Department of Education Northern Ireland has general details about Initial Teacher Education (which includes the PGCE). The Universities and Colleges offering the training also have information on their websites which include how to apply and the closing dates e.g. Queen’s Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) information.

 

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 Teach First Leadership Development Programme recruits high achieving graduates to work as teachers in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England and Wales.  Its 2 year programme combines this work with business skills training, internship and mentoring opportunities. At the end of the programme around 50% stay in the teaching profession in a leadership position, the other 50% are readily employed in a variety of business areas.

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.

Also take a look at some of the teaching/tutoring opportunities available from the British Council such as Teach in India

In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without teaching qualifications. These teachers will usually be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and to have other relevant (sometimes vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites. You can find a list of acceptable qualifications on the Department for the Economy 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.

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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.  

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Human Resources

You can find useful background information about this type of work via the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Prospects (Human Resources Officer, Training and Development Officer). 

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

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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.

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Retail Management

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.

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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, general management, human resources and recruitment consultancy.  You can find a list of websites which advertise these opportunities below under General graduate opportunities.

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