24 Sep 2013

Q&A: Should I Start Working in a Non-Related Field?

Question: I’ve recently graduated with a degree in specialisation ‘A’, but entry-level positions for this field are hard to come by. I’m thus considering applying for an entry-level position in specialisation ‘B’ to gain some work experience – is this a viable option?

Answer: Getting your foot in the door of the working world is one of the hardest challenges you’ll face over the course of your professional career, so don’t be disheartened if you find it hard to get a job as a fresh graduate.

After all, you’ll probably be competing against other jobseekers with relevant job experience, and job interviewers will always be more inclined to hire someone who won’t have to be trained and can hit the ground running.

Having said that, at the end of the day being employed is more important than sitting around waiting for the ideal job opening. It’s perfectly OK to take up a job not geared to your academic specialisation – here are some things to keep in mind when doing so.

Specialty for You
Some job positions don’t have an obvious academic specialisation related to them, such as outdoor camp instructors, or are otherwise associated with niche qualifications – for instance, professional bartending courses are still few and far between when compared to, say, business degrees.

In such a situation, job interviewers won’t be placing a premium on a candidate’s educational qualifications. Instead, they’ll be taking a closer look at the candidate’s non-academic attributes, such as drive and ambition, initiative and the ability to be a team player, to name but a few.

Taking up a position in an unrelated field is not only an opportunity to put into working practice these attributes, but a great way to keep your career options open – if you end up liking what you do, you might just end up making it your lifelong career!

Are You Employable?
Another factor that may cause you to look for a job unrelated to your academic specialisation is the (blunt) fact that your degree just isn’t very practical for the majority of job openings out there.

Your major in political science may have been a hoot and a half to read for, but there are only so many political analysts to go around – and what’s more, most politicians actually have very unrelated qualifications!

Conversely, information technology is a very employable industry in modern society, given the increasing digitisation of our personal and professional environments. So if you’re considering a job opening in an unrelated field, you might want to consider a field which is rapidly growing and where there might be more job opportunities for someone like yourself.

Taking It in Your Stride
It’s a fact of life: we all have to pay the mortgage. Being gainfully employed allows you a modicum of financial security and also has other positive ramifications for the long-term health of your career – few job interviewers will look kindly on a jobseeker who’s been out of work for extended periods of time, regardless of whether those reasons are actually valid.

And if you’re asked why you chose to take up this job, you need only be honest about your inability to find a position related to your academic specialisation. The fact that you have the guts to strike out in an unrelated field is proof positive to job interviewers that you possess the drive to succeed despite having suffered setbacks in life.

In short, don’t ever be afraid to work in a job that’s unrelated to your academic qualifications!

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd