To the Nth degree... What to do when you feel trapped by your choice of degree.
It is a natural fear that most twenty-somethings have, that great existential fear that makes them wonder at the many decisions that have brought them to the career in front of them, and the feeling that the options available to them are now limited by those decisions.
Some people believe that there is a finite limit to the career options available to you and that that is somehow defined heavily by the degree you chose to do. This mentality is reinforced by the criteria often used by companies to seek out good candidates, setting limitations on the particular degrees and therefore expertise they are looking for. However, this belief is problematic when it comes to people seeking something different.
There are a number of ways to break away from the degree you chose and to pursue a different path, and none of them involve time travel.
Work, Work, Work...
One of the best ways to enter into a sector that isn't related to your degree is to gain work experience. The steady acquisition of sector-specific skills that you will acquire through work experience will begin to transcend the expectations of your degree and, before you know it, you will find yourself equipped with so much more than you would have had with a different degree.
Of course, there is a secondary benefit to this path and it comes in the form of people. The well known saying, "It's not what you know but who you know," is by and large correct and the world of work experience gives you the opportunity to build those contacts and the network that will give you the intros you need into a sector. With that in mind, even if the work experience you are doing isn't directly related to the role you are aiming for, but rather is in the same industry, the contacts you can collect during that time might prove useful in the future as you start more comprehensively on your career journey.
You are fully equipped with the skills required to find out information courtesy of the years you spent studying at university. Now it is time to put those skills to real world use. You must take the time to research the sector you want to be in, to find out what skills will be required, what the work entails and how people tend to enter the industry. You might even gain insight into additional qualifications that can make you more employable in that field of work, and that way, the disadvantage you now see in your degree doesn't have to be detrimental to your career progression.
There are so many resources online these days that, with the right approach and drive, you could choose to be world class at almost anything in what would, by all previous measures, be considered a short period of time. There is not point in sitting at home wondering why you chose to study Water Sports instead of Economics and considering the long-term job prospects of a surf instructor who doesn't like the sea, but at the end of the day, that time is wasted. What would be wiser would be to seek out the skills you might need in the role. And the best part of the whole deal is that, once you've acquired these skills, you can sit in front of a future employer and show that you have the work ethic to go out and learn something new for yourself.
So take the leap, dive into google, and start considering how to broaden both your mind and your skills base.
It's important to keep up to date with current trends. That way you can see the evolution of roles and skills through the industry of interest and tailor your own personal development to that requirement. Not only this but understanding where the industry is going gives you the opportunity to see what new skills might be in demand in the future. And of course, you might just get to see opportunities that will suit you perfectly.
Don't forget that any degree provides you with a skills base. Whatever you have studied you will have acquired a selection of work based skills that will be applicable to any work environment so use that to your advantage. So what if you did engineering instead of english and you want to be a writer. The hard work involved in engineering can be used to show perseverance and dedication. Your degree, even if it doesn't fit to your dream career, can bring huge advantages when you're looking to apply for roles, regardless of the sector.
And don't forget, your past choices don't define you, and you are always in control of where you're going, so just keep moving forward in search of what you want. Where there's a will, there's a way!