Life in the Pod

Life in the Pod

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it…

For the uninitiated, a pod in this context has nothing to do with whales, dolphins, seals, porpoises or hippopotami. A pod is, in fact, a small and cramped, but air conditioned and confidential habitat for a rather different life form: the careers adviser. You can find pods on level 2 of the Fraser Building, and can arrange to consult with a careers adviser by booking a time on-line. That said, they are rather rare creatures and you may well need to be persistent in your search for one, particularly in autumn!

This blog is hopefully going to be one of many written by one of these scarce beings, in an attempt to share more widely just some of the wisdom generated by the interactions between careers advisers and other life forms, namely students and graduates. To take the metaphor to a ridiculous level, the relationship should be seen as symbiotic – the careers adviser doesn’t have a monopoly on wisdom!

All I’m trying to say is that I’m going to talk about some of the questions and issues we careers advisers deal with in the pods. You never know, reading this might mean you don’t have to wait weeks for an appointment! Here’s one common question:

“What can I do with my degree?”

That’s a great starting question, but it’s not perhaps the best starting point and here’s why. Such a question leads you to look at what others with your degree tend to do, and while that’s helpful, it’s not comprehensive.

I graduated in 1983 – from another Scottish University, which will remain nameless in the hope of maintaining some semblance of credibility with a Glasgow audience… My degree was in Environmental Chemistry, and I was unsure about what I wanted to do. I knew I probably wasn’t going to do a PhD, and I did have a desire to become a Chemistry Teacher, but that was about it.


The other Joseph Black Building…

I went to see a careers adviser… We talked about what I thought I wanted from work, and he gave me a questionnaire to fill in and bring back. He then sent it away and the results came back in a few weeks! Now, you can do it all yourself online of course

Apart from Teacher, other suggested jobs were Careers Adviser, Prison Governor and Minister of Religion… After another helpful discussion with my careers adviser, I wrote off the last two because essentially I am a coward – and later arranged to speak to a careers adviser working in schools to find out more. I decided to apply for a postgrad in Careers Guidance, and then went for an interview for a place on the course. To my surprise, the interviewer told me that I was the first Science graduate who’d ever applied for their course, and they were worried I wouldn’t be able to write an essay!

The point of this self-indulgence is that if I’d limited myself to the question, “What can I do with my degree?”, and just looked at what others had done; I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this… While it’s easy to make the obvious joke, believe it or not, I can’t think of a job I’d rather do than this one – and I can think of quite a lot!

In fact about 60% of graduate level jobs are open to any discipline of degree, so your options might be much wider than you think. As well as your degree, you also have a personality – yes you do – and a whole host of skills and qualities that you might not have reflected on much…

For me, way back then, the life-form that is a careers adviser was even rarer, but I managed to find one and he really helped me to get my thoughts straight and identify what I really wanted from my working life – and in my case it wasn’t something with an obvious connection to my degree.

If you’re not really too sure where to begin in all of this then why not take some initial steps to get more informed and then try and find some pod-life to talk to. The search could be well worth it – and you might even find yourself saying –

“It’s a job Jim, but not as I knew it!”

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