Achieving the Employable: It’s Not About the Money, Money, Money


Whichever year of university you are in, you’ll be thinking about life post-university. If it’s not at the forefront of your mind, it might be a dull ache that you’ve chosen to ignore. But before you look any further, stop, and think about what you REALLY want.

What’s the starting salary? Will I get to work in London? Is there opportunity for travel? Most students want to go into an ‘attractive’ job, one that makes their peers and friends jealous of their success. But really, what’s the point in doing something if it’s just to impress people? Of course, your starting salary is a vital part, you can’t just live on air, but sometimes the most rewarding jobs don’t come with the biggest pay-cheque.

We’ve all seen those articles – “Top 10 degree subjects for graduate starting salaries” and “Which graduates find jobs most easily? And who’s earning the big money?” They scare the student readers, if you’re doing Arts-based degrees, you despair you’ll never find a job and will live in relative poverty for the remainder of your life, regretting you did such a degree, but if you’re an engineering student, even if you’re not a very good one, the article sets you off clapping your hands with glee, because that’s the picture the article creates.

The problem, is that as students, we’re lead to believe that at the end of the day, the only thing that’s important is how much money we’re earning. But it’s NOT (just) about the money. Yes, back in 2011, Jessie J had it right.

Tom Randall BA History student says –

“I think a lot of students and graduates focus too strongly on the salary of whatever job it is they try and go into. Doing something meaningful and rewarding is, in my view, far better than trying desperately to start on a high salary. Trying to think about what matches well with what you would find rewarding before the wage it pays is probably a good way of doing it. Personally I’m thinking of going into the police or armed forces as I want to help our community but also be able to do fairly ‘hands on’ work”.


Credit: 123rf

A few years ago, the Bureau of Labour Statistics estimated that ‘the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty’. So students need to realise just because you land a certain job straight out of University, for example in marketing, there is no reason you won’t end up pursuing another career in an entirely unrelated sector. As cheesy as it sounds, the world really is your oyster.

To avoid the problem of being so money-focused you actually go into a career post-university that’s completely wrong for you, here are some tips: 

  1. Do things because you want to, not because someone else thinks you should.

It’s all very well saying that your tutor/lecturer thought it was a good idea, but that person won’t be out there to help you when you realise you’ve made a mistake. So if someone in an academic

Credit: businessnewsdaily

position, or simply someone whose opinion you trust, suggests something, doesn’t mean you need to follow through with it. They might be a little disappointed, but they’ll get over it.

  1. Work out what you enjoy and go from there.

Do you love being in a team or do you relish being given an individual project? Questions like these are vital, and ones you need to ask yourself. From here you can narrow down the jobs or careers you were previously interested in, and strike off the ones that won’t allow you to fully play to your strengths. Obviously, if you hate teamwork, there aren’t many jobs that allow you to avoid it completely, but there are plenty in which you can avoid excessive people contact.

And, finally:

  1. What DON’T I want to do?

This one’s quite simple: make a list! Always disliked the idea of going into the army? Scratch that off the list. Eventually, you’ll end up with a, hopefully smaller, list of avenues you can pursue.

There have been far too many cases of students going down a career path, which they later regret. Please don’t let it get to that point, remember, forget about the price tag, or in this case, the pay-cheque (but perhaps not entirely)!

More articles in Achieving the Employable
  1. Achieving the Employable: International Citizens Service
  2. Achieving the Employable: The Best Student Jobs
  3. Achieving the Employable: Southampton Language Opportunity
  4. Achieving the Employable: 9 Ways to Improve Your CV
  5. Achieving the Employable: Jumping in At the Deep-End
  6. Achieving the Employable: Frontline
  7. Achieving the Employable: Programming for Dummies
  8. Achieving the Employable: It’s Not About the Money, Money, Money

Law student at the University of Southampton.

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