Careers: What do you actually do?

From an early age we start thinking about what we “want to do” when we grow up.  When I left university and people were asking me what career I wanted to pursue, I suddenly realised that I didn’t really know what options were out there or what they actually entailed.  Obviously, it is good to have a rough idea of what you want to do before you head into the terrifying and increasingly competitive world of job hunting.  So for any students out there who are weighing up their options, or for those debating a new direction, I have asked 6 recent graduates to reveal the secrets of their new careers in: web design, teaching, journalism, sales, events management and midwifery.

 I asked them three questions

  1. What’s the best thing about your job?
  2. What’s the worst?
  3. Tell me something about your job that most people wouldn’t know.

Emma – Sales


1. The best thing about the job is all the stuff I have learnt from all the different people I come across. As a graduate with little practical experience, every different business situation presents an opportunity to learn something new… and I get to travel around the country!

2. Worst thing is being stuck in the office doing “admin” tasks like updating sales pipelines and writing up and filing sales meeting minutes. No matter how much you try and spice up filing, after a few hours it will become tedious! Not to mention the paper cuts.

3. Most people are pretty open minded and friendly if you’re not pushy and approach them in a non-invasive manor. The quickest way to make a good impression on a potential customer is to learn how they like their tea or coffee. Simple, but it shows you’re on the ball and is a quick way of creating a rapport.

Max – Web designer


1. There are a truck load of perks to being a web designer. The rapidly changing web scene and practices keep all of us on our toes, we have to constantly evolve and learn new things. A 23 year old designer can give valuable advice to a 40 year old designer, it’s a very level playing field… and it pays really well..

2. Cross browser testing is a slow and painful process. When you’ve designed and coded a new website it’s a great feeling, but when you see it appear on Internet Explorer, it makes you want to cry, things always break on there.

3. People probably wouldn’t know how much you can teach yourself.  Nearly everything I know about the internet, I taught myself. It’s incredibly accessible to everyone who is interested, and there are tons of interesting ‘conventions’ that you can go to around the world. ‘Geeky’ happens every month, gives great talks, is free, and supplies free beer and pizza.. So yeah, there is a very large community behind it, almost underground.

Jen – Midwife

midwife pic

1. Aside being part of the most special moment in a couple’s life, I love meeting people from all the different walks of life.  I have looked after people from different culturesa and ethnicities and I’ve learnt about different religions – orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve seen a massive variety of social circumstances: from the very well off to extreme poverty, to mothers who suffer with drug abuse/domestic violence, to successful IVF and donor egg/sperm pregnancies after many years of trying to conceive. Every day is completely different!

2. The birth rate is increasing quickly and the government can’t afford more midwives so we really are pushed to the limit….we do long hours and it is extremely rare to get a full 90 minute break in a 14 hour shift. Even a trip to the loo can sometimes be delayed by a couple of hours.

3. In the UK the three year midwifery degree is a really full on course, 37.5 hours a week of university lectures and hospital placements, with 7 weeks off throughout the year, not a normal “student lifestyle”.

Laura – Primary school teacher


1.  The best thing is when the children tell you how much they’ve enjoyed a lesson after you’ve spent hours planning it and you can see that all (or at least most) of them have achieved the learning objective

2. The worst is the amount of your own time that you have to sacrifice researching topics, making your own resources to suit your children’s needs, planning and marking…even when you leave at the end of the day there’s always more to be done which is daunting and can be really stressful.

3.  I guess a lot of people probably know this but I’d say you don’t always realise how often children surprise you with how creative, thoughtful, understanding, sharp and perceptive they can be. There are so many moments when they exceed all your expectations.

Margot – Events management


 1. The best thing about event management is the adrenalin you feel just before the beginning of an event, a mix of excitement and fear!

2. The worst thing is that this job really takes over on your private life. When you work on something big, you bring it back home and you carry it with you all the time. Added to the long days, it is really tiring for the body and for the mind.

3. Most people think events management is a very glamorous job. But most of them don’t know that a big part of it consists of working in an office. Even when you are on the field, you sometimes have to do everything by yourself when you’re lacking time. You have to be ready to grab a ladder and screw something into a wall, hold heavy boxes and try to fix anything that is not working.

Beth – Journalist


1. I most enjoy working with people from all over the world, learning about new places and cultures and getting to bring important news to people. Everyday the news is different so that keeps the days interesting.

2. The hours are not sociable, unfortunately, when  one side of the world is going to sleep the other is waking up…the news doesn’t work 9-5!

3. You will often cover lot of stories that might seem really uninteresting to you and then in those cases I often suffer with writer’s block. Of course there are some journalists who get out in on the field but in general we spend most of our time at desks!

And if those don’t float your boat, what about these other unusual career options suggested by Forbes?

  • Ice Cream Taster/Food Scientist ($56,000)
  • Embaler ($43,650)
  • Live Mannequin (up to $100 per hour)
  • Hot Dog Vendor ($30,000 – $100,000)
  • Personal Shopper ($25,000 -$100,000)
  • Funeral Service Manager ($79,930)
  • Virtuel Head Hunter ($250 -$10,000)
  • Body Part Model ($20 -$1000 per afternoon)
  • Cruise Ship Entertainer ($3,000 to $4,500 a month, plus room and board)
  • Genetic Counselor ($55,820 a year)

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