In Defence of... Not Using Your Degree

By Naomi Smith | Monday 14th August, 2017

Hello fellow graduates. Welcome to the “real world.” It's terrifying out here. It's August, so the most recent of you to join our ranks should just about now be slowly realising that the degree, the volunteering and the networking of the last 3 years haven't actually guaranteed you an entry-level job in your specific field, let alone your dream job. Yaaay.

Before you stop reading and assume the foetal position, let me start by assuring you that my intention here is not a negative “woe is us” article. On the contrary, you can consider this an ode to the corporate sellout.

There comes a point for many of us, when we have exhausted all the job applications we actually wanted. We then begin eyeing up companies that have zero connection to our degree or our plans, but we think we stand a decent chance of actually getting the job. There will then be a mild sense of panic that the life you’ve been fervently planning for 3 years will suddenly disappear forever if you trap yourself in the wrong role. Ignore it. Remember when you thought that if you chose the wrong A-level subjects, you’d ruin your life? Remember how that didn't happen?


So if you are taking the scenic route to reach your uni-fuelled dreams then here are my 5 ways to stay positive about not using your degree…

Don’t fret about that debt

So you’ve set yourself up with an intimidating £50,000 debt and you aren’t in the career it was all supposed to be for. First of all, you’ve got to stop thinking of it as debt. Thats putting unnecessary pressure on yourself, which in the end will be completely counter-productive. This isn’t America, you don’t have to desperately save for years or financially cripple your parents to pay it back. The Big Gov is going to quietly take a little percentage of what you can afford and put it towards back-paying your education. I try to think of it not as a debt but as a tax. Your own personal education-tax, or depending on where your priorities lie, a best-three-years-of-my-life-tax. So don’t sweat it.


Ask around

Talk to the people in your life that have their shit together (or appear to). Ask them what they studied/what their big dreams were when they were at uni. The majority of your bosses and parents are going to have a little chuckle to themselves and name a speciality that is absurdly far from their current career. So now ask yourself - does you knowing that they had no intention of landing the job that they are currently kicking ass at make them a failure to you? See where I’m going with this?

There's still time

It feels like you have been working toward your career for three years so you should be successful any day now. Actually, you have been working towards your degree for three years and then, unfortunately, the clock resets. Think of it this way, JK Rowling took 6 years to write the first Harry Potter, do you think she came downstairs the morning after typing her final full stop and wondered where her adoring fans were? No, the time at uni was time spent getting what you need, now you've got to give time to getting what you want.


Consider it a sabbatical

When you do get that dream role, no matter how much you love it, you’re going to be in it for about 30 years and it will get a bit repetitive. Being a professional puppy-cuddler? Dream job. Giving puppies all of your attention 8 hours a day for 30 years? Nuisance. Whatever it is that you want to dedicate your life to, I’m sure that after doing the same thing every day for that long, you are going to look back fondly at your stint in a completely different world.

Get a hobby

If you can’t spend your working day doing exactly what you wanted, pick it up on the side. Not only is it going to give you extra experience when you do make the change to your preferred industry, but it’s going to keep you sane. The point is, having your passion as a totally separate thing from your job will keep you motivated in both roles! It’s time to compartmentalise, people!