Why Degree Subjects are Irrelevant upon Leaving University

The Telegraph recently reported that the majority of recent university graduates are turning to employment outside of their field of study. Is this a sign that the government drive for higher education for the masses is “counter-productive”? Can an internship help you in your career in as many ways as your degree?

In 2009, almost 13,000 students graduated from university with a degree in History. Yet there is only one David Starkey and history, as a profession, is waning in popularity. So do all of these students begin their courses with a career in History in their sights? The answer is probably ‘no’, and I imagine much the same can be said for many humanities and language students.

I graduated last summer with a 1st in English and I am currently working in the marketing department of Inspiring Interns. Does that make me part of the “disillusioned generation” that the article refers to? Technically, my current position is not directly linked to my degree but many of the skills I have developed in Higher Education are imperative to my current role.

Before I first submitted my application to UCAS to carry on drinking at the Fountain of Knowledge (or just drinking), I pondered heading straight into work. Many people spoke of the importance of work experience over education and I was sorely tempted. I eventually decided to continue studying and whilst at university I learnt many useful skills: researching, the ability to reason, discuss, rationalise. University for me was about learning transferable expertise that I could apply in the professional domain.

To make the assumption that all college leavers know exactly what career path they want to follow is ignorant. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that graduates choose to follow different paths in later life. Where internships can prove important is bridging that gap between university and employment, especially if you want to move away from your degree subject.

All it takes is dedication, enthusiasm and persistence. With this, and the skills that you have developed whilst at university, you have the opportunity to pursue virtually any career path (that dream of becoming an astronaut, however, may be a little out of reach).

We want to hear your stories. Have you deviated from your degree subject? Has it been easy? Is there too much pressure put on young people to establish a career path at an increasingly early age?