21 March 2014

Final year geography student Laurence Hawker takes a pragmatic approach to the many interesting directions his post university life could take.

As I am sure my fellow third year undergraduates can testify, this year has been different from the others at university. We have had to hand in that dissertation and now we can count how many assignments we have remaining on a single hand. And now, for the difficult question of what to do next?

Before even starting university, many people asked me what I hoped to do afterwards, with the majority assuming I would become a geography teacher.  I would retort alluding to the variety of career paths geography students could take. I guess I naively thought that university would lead me to find the one career area I wanted to pursue.

Yet, during my time at Lancaster Environment Centre, it has become obvious to me that people do not just have a single career. It is pointless fretting over finding that one perfect career, but instead acceptable opportunities can be taken, and if it turns out that they are not what I wanted or hoped for I can change.

Keeping my options open

With this philosophy, I have embarked on applications for a wide-range of opportunities. Come May/June, I hope to have a number of offers on the table from which I will choose which path to take. Of course this is slightly idealistic, if not a little cocky, but I feel it is important that I should have a choice and not just take a job or study option because I have nothing else to do.

Using the help of the Lancaster University Careers Service I have thoroughly researched the roles I’ve applied for, which I hope will benefit me in the application process. Therefore, without sounding like an application junkie, I’ve chosen to pursue a number of paths.

Firstly, I have applied for a few postgraduate schemes studying risk and environmental hazards. One of these is based in the UK and is a general course, and the other is more specific, focused on flood risk management and based at four European universities. These applications have both involved writing a relevant personal statement and asking lecturers for references. For the latter, this needs to be done almost a month before the deadline, so organsiation is key.

In an ideal world, I would take a postgraduate course, but lack of funds may constrain this, thus I’ve also applied to a few jobs. These applications have often been long, with a lot of psychometric testing. Again it is key to research the role and organisation so you know what you will be getting into, but it should be remembered that the role is not for life 

At present, I’ve sent off numerous applications to a wide range of organisations including the Civil Service and Aon, with interviews secured with AB Sugar and Willis so far. 

Heading east

My final, slightly different, application has been to become an assistant English teacher in Japan, as part of the JET programme run by the Japanese government . If successful, I would be in Japan for at least a year. Ever since my first contact with Japanese culture in Colorado (see  my blog A Brit in Boulder) and then in Japan last summer, I have wanted to learn more about Japan and learn a second language. This role would be extremely challenging, but it would give me the chance to immerse myself in a totally different culture whilst doing something beneficial for others.

There are many paths to take after graduation so research the options and take a path that you want to take.

Learn more about studying Geography at Lancaster Environment Centre and the careers support available to students



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