Figuring out the future

by Sonia French

Throughout my degree, studying at Lancaster and across the world has provided me with many opportunities to grow as a person. Unfortunately, the fun of undergraduate life doesn’t last forever, and being a final third year student means I need to address the “What are you doing next year?” question. It’s safe to say I’m still not set in my ways as to what I’m going to do or where I’ll end up yet, but applying for postgraduate study in a field I have a real passion for is my current plan. So, here are my top 4 tips and advice for figuring out the future…

1. Talk

Having a chat with people is always a good place to start. I’ve found that, often when you least expect it, people share helpful bits of information that may spark a world of ideas. Networking is crucial, and often who you know gets you halfway there.

Talking to my dissertation supervisor, who specialises in Forensic Linguistics, gave me a few ideas of paths I could go down. This included graduate jobs in the civil service, security, marketing, as well as postgraduate jobs in Forensic Linguistics. Reaching out to staff in your department is a super easy first step. Also, talking to family and friends gave me more ideas into possible people I could go to in the future. The Lancaster University Careers Advice Service are also very helpful.

2. Experience

For me, gaining professional experience is definitely something that’s hard to find. Having said this, experience can come in many different forms. It’s possible to gain experience through shadowing, research, and volunteering. The Linguistics and English Language Department offered monthly and summer internships this year. It’s always worth having a look into where you can help, whether or not you will earn money in the process. Internships, placements and studying abroad are all great ways to develop your skillset and meet new people.

3. Skills

This leads me onto skills. I’ve had jobs in retail and, at Lancaster University, working as a digital content ambassador. Lancaster is good at advertising jobs on campus and in different faculties. The Employment and Recruitment Service helped me find this job as a digital content ambassador, where being creative, organised and independent is important. Also, spending my second year studying abroad in Canada gave me confidence and independence, as well as problem solving and communication skills. As a Linguistics student, I’ve gained good analytical skills such as how to interpret from texts how people portray themselves. Looking at avenues away from Linguistics, Marketing and Intelligence are two other fields I know I could go into because of the skills I’ve developed on my degree course.

4. Don't panic

Just because your friend may have their life figured out doesn’t mean you also have to. I have some friends applying for graduate jobs, some doing research, others going into postgraduate study and others who just want to travel. Time is your friend and whether you use it to jump into a career you’ve decided on or use it to research, gain experience and network, many things will help you in the future for many different purposes. Any action you take might help you discover a new-found passion which could lead you to a new career.


Sonia is a third year undergraduate at Lancaster University, and is studying Linguistics.

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