How to get started when you don’t know what you want to do

Sometimes it can feel like everyone else has a plan and they know exactly what they want to do after graduation but for many people this just isn’t the case. Here in Careers and Placements we can help you with those first steps, so here are some suggestions on how to get started. 

Consider what you’re good at

Knowing your strengths can help you identify career opportunities that could be suitable for you. There are various self assessment exercises available online and we have linked to some of the most useful ones on our Explore Ideas web page. The York Strengths programme is a must and it aims to help you discover the things you are good at and love to do. It’s an online programme that will take you through a series of simple exercises to help you pinpoint the skills that you excel at and what types of skills you enjoy using.

As well as considering your strengths, consider your values too. Values are the things you believe are important in the way you live and work and what is meaningful to you, so for example, maybe it’s important to you to have a job where you can be creative or perhaps a job where you have to meet and work with lots of different people is most appealing to you. Everyone will have different values and they will most likely shift as you go through different stages of your life too. 

Explore and research

You can do this in layers, so start off by looking at what others who have studied your degree went on to do. Check out Prospects What can I do with my degree and also York Profiles and Mentors which is a collection of career stories from UoY alumni. Once you have a few options you would like to explore further, you can research in greater detail on our Job Sectors page which will take you through useful skills, finding work experience and what relevant things you can do now at York.

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Use our events programme too. We try to bring you events that will provide an insight into different professions and enable you to hear from and talk to people working in a variety of industries or roles. By coming to an event you’re not committing to join a certain profession or company and you don’t need to be knowledgeable about it. Think of it as a great way to find out more from the people actually working in that industry. Often you’ll discover a lot more than you’d be able to glean from a company’s website or promo materials and perhaps find a new contact or two as well.

Try it out

Now that you’ve done some research and you have a few potential careers you’re considering, go one step further and try them out. Many companies offer insight days or weeks and internships. This is a great opportunity to experience what a job role involves and what a company culture is like and it can help you further home in on what type of career you want to pursue. Similarly, volunteering can equip you with some useful work experience and a window into different types of careers and organisations. Internships are advertised on Handshake including those offered by our Student Internship Bureau.

Talk to us

Whatever stage you’re at, you can talk to us. See our Talk to Us page for an explanation of the different ways you can speak to someone in Careers and Placements