The traditional sentiment behind a university degree is no longer applicable to our new and changing world. 10 years ago, a university degree meant having a stable 9 to 5 job.
Unfortunately for us in the modern world, saturated with a lot of competition. Having a degree does not always mean that you’ll find a stable position. It sounds like everything we knew about having a university degree is wrong, doesn’t it? Below, are 6 facts about a university degree you’ve never thought about.
1. You’re probably not going to get a job in the field you’re studying
Unfortunately for you, the chances of landing a job in the same field as your university degree is low. In fact, research by YouGov shows that more than half (53%) of Singaporean graduates are currently working in jobs unrelated to their degrees.
This might sound daunting to some. More than 80% of young adults select their college degrees based on the industries they wanted to work in. But it doesn’t have to be. For example, history majors who pursued a career in business ended up earning just as much as business students. It's harsh but the working world does not care about your degree. Instead, what matters is your job experience, skills, and ultimately, your work ethic.
2. ...unless you studied overseas
This is a highly controversial claim. However, it seems like 51% of students who studied abroad ended up working in a field related to their discipline. This could be due to a number of reasons:
More degree options: Unfortunately, most local universities do not have a wide range of majors available. Additionally, many specialized courses in Singapore are exclusively available in certain universities. Whilst universities overseas have a range of subjects you can choose from.
Real-life experience and soft skills: Most students who leave the country to pursue their studies also leave behind the material comforts that are readily available at home. Living alone, learning to manage your own daily budgets, and adapting to a strange new culture might help you harness a few soft skills that could be useful in the working world.
Additionally, studying in an overseas university exposes you to a bunch of different people of different nationalities. This helps build important skills such as communication, the ability to adapt, and teamwork.
Of course, this does not mean that studying in a local university is a dead end. You can help boost your employability by proving that you’ve acquired soft skills such as communication and teamwork skills in your resume. You can also boost your employability by taking up extra courses related to your field of interest, internships, or prior temp and full-time job experiences.
Lucky for you, we’ve written a number of articles on these subjects:
3. ….or majored in a “practical” subject
Personally, I find the term “practical” major a slippery slope. However, studies show that graduates who majored in subjects such as accounting and finance are more likely to get a job in a related industry. So maybe, if you’re someone whose parents have influenced you to pick a “practical” major. It seems like they could be right after all. In fact, 35% of Singaporean university students polled stated that their parents helped them decide what they wanted to major in.
But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, accounting students. In a saturated and competitive job market, you will need knowledge in more than just your degree to survive.
4. Schools do not teach you valuable office skills
As someone who has worked in a variety of different companies, I come across a lot of interesting characters. Some of my colleagues who’ve managed to score great accolades fail to do the simplest of tasks or understand basic programs (e.g. Excel).
The lack of practical office skills could be one of the reasons why University graduates without relevant job experiences are passed over. Some programs that people have trouble using include:
G Suite programs (e.g. Google Docs, Google Slides)
Employers are always interested in hiring people who know their basics. These are the employees that require less time to train.
5. The aim of going to a university is to network
Some might say that the aim of going to university is to focus on your major. You can choose a major that is linked to a high paying job in the real world. However, none of that hard work will come in handy unless you have a strong network to back you up. Employers don’t care about how smart you are if no one knows who you are.
If you’re still studying, take this time to connect with the pals you’ve made in your classes, as well as your professors. You can also network by participating in dependable internships, volunteering for events and even reaching out to people who’s work fascinates you!
Pro-Tip: We understand that networking might seem terrifying to some. Especially if you’re an introvert. You might find this information useful:
6. Most graduates find their degrees useful and beneficial
There is one silver lining about universities though. A majority of graduates polled (57%) find their degrees and majors to be useful. There is a catch though - these graduates majored in in-demand subjects such as information and communications technology.
Maybe it’s a sign that you should focus majoring in a skill that will be in demand for the next few years. Perhaps considering picking something up within the Cybersecurity or Fintech industry could be a good start?
Still struggling to find the right job? As a top recruitment agency in Singapore, why not check out BGC Singapore's job board for a suitable position?