Are You Going To Change Careers More Times Than You Think After Graduating This Summer?

Published by Impact Magazine (Online) July 17, 2014.

The answer is that you almost certainly will, especially given the recent announcement that 19 out of 20 graduates will change jobs at least once within three years of graduating.

In fact, one tenth of us will have three different jobs in this time, and one third of us will spend on average only three to six months in each job.

This is hardly surprising. However, these statistics do not have to be viewed negatively. Many students decide to travel after graduation, so are likely to take more ‘menial’ jobs to fund their trip. Even if this move is not by choice, it can provide the time for people to figure out what they want from life. During my own gap year I worked for a number of companies at the same time, as all were either unwilling to give me full time work or were flexible from the start.

One tenth of us will have three different jobs in this time, and one third of us will spend on average only three to six months in each job.

Therefore, I know first-hand that statistics can portray a distorted view of things. Moreover, whilst it may look undesirable on your CV to not appear to have lasted more than a few months in a job, workers can be trying to gain more hours, rather than fewer.

Another reason for graduate indecisiveness could be uncertainty, especially about career paths. Universities seem to be increasingly focused on graduate recruiters from large corporations, particularly those that are finance-based. Even before the financial crisis and vilification of bankers, this world did not appeal. Where is the guidance towards alternative careers?

For this, I have turned towards online blogs and follow a variety of people, often freelancers, who have made a life of travel their priority. Whilst this support is far from formal, it is clear in the emphasis it gives to diversifying your skills and work is emphasised. This is supported by a study, showing that two out of five recent graduates stated they changed roles and industry in order to gain new skills, especially those in creative areas and communication.

Another reason for graduate indecisiveness could be uncertainty, especially about career paths.

Perhaps this need for diversification is a sign of the times: there are no longer jobs for life. However, this could be a good thing. Financial security may be sacrificed, but won’t our lives be richer?

This is hardly am idea exclusive to the free-spirited either, with almost 60% of employers naming enjoyment of the job as their motivation, compared to only 13% motivated by money in a survey by the CEB (the Corporate Executive Board company). Perhaps these are the kind of issues we should be prioritising. Perhaps life should not be solely about work, but also about relationships and experiences.

So I say to the research that most graduates will switch careers by 24: “So what?” Educated young people are most likely making decisions with their own best interests at heart. Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box, and for students to consider creating their own paths.

Yasemin Craggs Mersinoglu

Image Courtesy of University of Central Arkansas via Flickr

 

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