What can I do with my degree?

Working out your career direction and how you are going to embark on your career requires planning and preparation.

Deciding on a career takes time and can be complex, especially when there are lots of options. Generally, your next steps will be in employment or further study. Good career planning will help you work through to a decision and make plans for your next steps.

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While many careers require further study, others can be entered directly from undergraduate study. There are three options for bachelor graduates:

  1. Coursework masters
  2. Graduate research via honours
  3. Employment

Keep in mind that there are many coursework masters program which can be accessed with any bachelor qualification. Graduate study can be used to head in a new career direction.

Graduate coursework

Many graduate courses are vocational leading to accreditation to work in a specific profession. Others lead to a broader range of career roles. Whichever is the case, there will be a variety of career paths and employment settings to consider, so take the time to research and reflect on your options.

Your employability will be enhanced if you are involved with your industry. This might include undertaking internships, targeted part-time work or volunteering, and joining and getting involved with a relevant professional association.

Research Higher Degree

Students undertaking research higher degrees (RHD) may subsequently work in academia or in various roles in industry.

Academic Skills, the Library and the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (Melbourne CSHE) collaborate to run careers seminars for RHD students.

There are typically sessions on:

  • Careers in academia
  • Careers in industry
  • Marketing yourself to industry
  • Applying for Jobs in academia
  • Applying for jobs in industry

Careers in academia

Most academics are involved in both research and teaching in higher education. Some academics work solely in research; a small percentage may be in teaching-only positions.

While there is increasing level of part-time and casual employment in entry level academia, it is still a major career path for many RHD graduates. Academia is a sector with a large proportion of older workers; it is projected that there will be increasing demand for staff in coming decades as this group retires.

Students considering an academic career are advised to discuss preparation with their supervisor and others in their field and faculty. As in any profession, it is critical to connect with others in your field and to build relationships to let people know of your work and aspirations as well as your specialisation.

Jobs sites for academic jobs

Careers in industry

RHD graduates pursue a broad range of careers outside of academia. Some roles make direct use of the specialist skills and knowledge, e.g. Social Science PhD working in policy research for an NGO, or an IT PhD working in software development. Others focus more on transferable skills developed through RHD studies, e.g. Science PhD working in science communications, or an English Literature PhD working in book publishing.

Get ready early

  • Positioning yourself – working out what it is you are going to do, and for whom; this involves coming up with some ideas about what you might do and reality-checking/further shaping them by talking with employers
  • Packaging yourself – might include reworking your CV into a resume suited to industry, creating a LinkedIn, profile, developing business cards
  • Promoting yourself – being proactive in putting yourself forward to the market, including making direct approaches to employers, using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, as well as responding to advertised positions

Further information