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Find Your Future


What does your favourite Beyoncé song say about your career?

By uczjsdd, on 6 May 2016

Like, how flipping good is the new Beyoncé album? Am I right? Yes.

But which track is your fave? The haunting, poetic, heart-rending opener, “Pray you catch me”?  Or are you more into the loud, rocky, hell-hath-no-fury-type number “Don’t Hurt Yourself”?

It turns out the answer could say a lot about you. David Greenberg, a Cambridge PhD student, has been researching the underpinnings of musical taste. And he found certain ‘cognitive styles’, or ways of thinking, are associated with a preference for distinct music types.

People with a greater ability to understand thoughts and feelings in themselves and others, labelled “empathisers”, tend to prefer mellow, melancholy music like R&B and soul. Whereas ‘systemisers’, those better at spotting patterns and understanding the workings of systems, prefer loud, intense, ‘fun’ genres like punk and hard rock.

Interesting stuff in itself. But at UCL Careers we just can’t resist looking for ways to help you with your career thinking. And we figure if you’re the type of person who loves putting people in boxes (and don’t we all enjoy that a little sometimes?), you might want to take your musical tastes into account when considering your future career. Systemisers are likely to be good at analytical, mathematical and scientific problem-solving jobs. So if you’re a grindcore lover, perhaps you’ll make a fine economist. Whereas empathisers may prefer working with people, especially if the role involves understanding emotions and behaviour. So if you like a bit of soft rock or smooth soul, maybe you’ll enjoy being a counsellor.

And if checking your Spotify playlist hasn’t solved all your career woes (which I very much doubt it has), there are more sophisticated job-matching tools out there, like Prospects Planner or Plotr. Shockingly, they don’t ask whether you prefer Adele to Slipknot, but they do make you think about what motivates you in your work, and the type of environment you’d be happiest in.

A word of caution: Although these algorithms will churn out a list of jobs for you, they’re unlikely to offer a firm and final answer to your career choice. We all change and develop over time, and as you gain more work experience you’ll learn more about your preferences. This means your answers may vary at different points in your life. See these tools as more of a starting point to help identify a few careers worth investigating further.

And a second word of caution: Sometimes people are frustrated or even offended when their top job match is something they would never consider doing, or would have to retrain completely to achieve. But in these cases it’s worth evaluating the top 10-20 answers. Taken together they can help you spot patterns in the type of role you may enjoy. If you’re finding it tough to do this on your own, why not bring the list along to a one-to-one careers appointment to use as a basis for a discussion?



N.B. Bey’s new album works so well in its entirety, so it’s kind of tricky to pick a favourite. But my current stand-out tracks are ‘Sorry’ and ‘All Night’. Just FYI.



Want to leave the world of Medicine?

By UCL Careers, on 30 March 2015

This blog originally appeared on the Develop your Career blog

Whether you’re a medical student or a foundation trainee, the prospect of divorcing yourself from a world you’ve (heavily) invested in is a huge one.

In order to be sure of making the right decision in the first place, Year 11 and 12 students spend time finding and completing work experience to test their assumptions about becoming a doctor. Once at medical school, the question of which specialty they see themselves in begins to loom. Then in Foundation training, the pressure is really on to decide which of the 60+ specialties is the right one.

So, after all this intense decision-making in the direction of Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, what should you do if you begin to think, as a student or as a trainee, that it might not be for you?

Know yourself, know your reasons for leaving

Be clear on the specific reasons for leaving, is it stress, working hours, the pull of
another profession? If you’re finding it hard to specify what your reasons are, perhaps try writing a reflective journal including the highs and lows of each day. Write down questions that occur to you about your uncertainties. Try the reflective exercises in this resource on Jobs.ac.uk: Career Change Toolkit (this will be more helpful to trainees).

Talk to someone

  • in the profession – a supportive tutor, a friendly peer in the year above (at medical school or in Foundation training) or a more senior doctor. Their insights might help you establish what it is you’re unsure about, and what you need to do to confirm or allay your fears. This is all about selecting the right person, if you feel someone might frown upon your thinking then they may not be the best counsellor.
  • in your family – this is a difficult one. Often the biggest investors in our futures are our families, especially parents or guardians. This may put you under extra pressure if they’re following your studies/career excitedly. However if you have really thought about your options and are certain about leaving medicine then try to be brave and talk with them; show them you’ve researched your options and explain your reasons for moving on.
  • neutral – speaking with a careers consultant will bring you an impartial, neutral space to house your discussions. Careers professionals are trained in helping people establish what’s important to them and making decisions that are right for them as an individual. Check your university’s careers service if you’re studying or check the services from your Local Education and Training Board (LETB) if you’re an F1/2.

Test your reasons for leaving

If you are interested in another profession, then could you arrange to do some work shadowing? If you’re concerned with the idea of taking exams until you’re 30+ then (as above) talk to people further down the line than you in different specialties;
find out how onerous it is and how they cope with it.

Research your options

If you’re an F1/F2, firstly remember to explore specialties that might minimise or even avoid the areas of medicine you aren’t enjoying (for example consider public health if the clinical work isn’t for you). If you’re not already familiar with them, visit the NHS Medical Careers specialty pages.
Beyond that, being trained medically is a huge asset to a number of jobs. The skills and knowledge lend themselves to a wide variety of roles: medical journalism, publishing, medical law, NHS management to name a few. Additionally, think beyond the medical sphere; management consultancy, civil service etc.

Resources, career ideas and case studies

NHS Medical Careers – Alternative career options for doctors. Great list of options with descriptions.

BMJ Careers – Moving on from Clinical Practice. Article about why people leave medicine and a diverse set of case studies of doctors who have left practice.

Medical Success – Alternative medical careers. Information on medical careers beyond the hospital and GP settings.

Medical Success – When can I leave medicine? An interesting case study about an F1 trainee who embarked on a new career path.

Careers Tagged – Options and Career Choice. Resources on choosing careers, employers, and options with your degree.