What’s the worst piece of careers advice you’ve ever been given?

Here at the Careers Service, we’re not in the business of giving out bad careers advice. When we saw this Moment trending on Twitter, we thought it would be interesting to see what the team at the Careers Service had to say:

 Eilidh – Faculty Employability Consultant

‘If you’re not directly using your degree, it was a waste of time and money.’ 

Some people go on to work in a field directly related to their degree and others don’t; neither category is more or less successful than the other. The skills that you develop during your degree (such as problem solving, analysis and articulating your research) are valued in all graduate roles. Find an opportunity that you will enjoy and be successful in, don’t be limited by what you think (or other people tell you) you should be doing. 

Maxine – Bristol PLUS Award Manager

‘So long as you work hard and get good grades at school you’ll be able to do whatever you want to do.’

I think my parents genuinely believed this, and I am grateful for them instilling a strong work ethic in me. But this did have the effect of me focusing solely on my studies and not enough on exploring what I wanted to do with them! 

Robbie – Alumni Mentoring Coordinator

‘You just need to keep your head down here and stay out of trouble. Don’t try and rock the boat or re-invent the wheel.’

Where appropriate, and unless told otherwise by a manager or supervisor, don’t fight your instinct to ask questions and perhaps even challenge the ‘status quo’. This is the best way to learn more about a working environment and ultimately decide whether you really want to be a part of it! Some of the best organisations are where employees feel valued and able to contribute.  

Natalia – Faculty Employability Adviser

‘I think you should become a doctor or maybe a lawyer…’ 

Similarly to Maxine I grew up working really hard on my grades, so I could get into a course which would lead me to a stable, high earning profession. Unfortunately for my parents I really wasn’t that interested in either medicine or law and, in the end, chose to pursue a BA in Literature and Myth. All my family kept asking me what sort of career one can go into after this degree and I honestly had no idea. But I had a blast and really enjoyed my time at university. University is a time for exploration – find out your passions and motivations, and your time at university, whichever degree you choose, will give you the tools to pursue these. 

Faye – SME Engagement Officer

‘A degree can get you any job you want.’

Effectively yes, but it’s quite rare that your first job after university is within the same field as your degree. 

There’s so much competition out there. You’re against candidates years out of university with bags more work experience. There’s also that classic phrase; ‘you need experience, to GET experience’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Although it’s important to work hard on your degree, and a degree makes you more employable, experience is extremely valuable and puts you paces in front of other candidates. Whether it’s work experience for a few weeks, gaining transferable skills in your part time bar job, completing an internship or helping out with some volunteer work – it all counts and will help make you more employable.  

Amy – Marketing and Communications

‘Don’t become too chummy with your colleagues, it’s unprofessional.’  

I’ve met some of my best friends in life while at work. You spend a lot of time with your colleagues and being friends with them really contributes to a happy and productive work environment. While it’s important to have boundaries, and to respect some people’s preference to keep their home life private – working with people I consider friends has been one of the best things to come out of my career.  

The Careers Service is still open during the vacation period, so if you need some good careers advice – get in touch! You can make an appointment with a careers adviser to go over a CV or application, do a practice interview, or just to talk about your options: bristol.ac.uk/careers