Supporting Taught Postgraduates

What do you want from a career?

Help to reflect on your experience of education, work and other activities, and to inform your thinking about what you want out of your future career.

When considering possible career directions or change, it’s important to be aware of what you want from a career and what you have to offer an employer. 

Factors that influence career choice

There are five main areas to consider when thinking about what you want from a career.  

Skills: These are the transferable, specialist and technical skills you possess.  They will include natural abilities and aptitudes as well as learned/developed skills, and the academic skills you will continue to develop through your postgraduate study. You should consider which skills are particular strengths of yours, and which ones you enjoy drawing upon.

Values and motivations: These relate to how you see the world, what you feel is important, and what you hope to achieve. You may hold values that will influence your career choice or have influenced past choices, for example, a need to do something ‘worthwhile’, a desire to help others, or a need for success (which will have an individual meaning to you). It is useful to identify your values and to consider if they need to be satisfied in work, as values can also be satisfied in other parts of life.  Sometimes values can change with time and changing personal circumstances as many of you will have experienced.

Interests: These will include your academic, work-related and personal interests.  Think about your postgraduate study: what is it about the subject that interests you? There may be activities you are involved in outside your studies that you enjoy, for example, representing the views of your peers as a student representative, or being on a committee. If you’ve worked in any capacity in the past, or are currently employed, you should reflect on what aspects of the work you enjoyed and what would you prefer to avoid in the future.  You should consider what interests you can, and would like to, incorporate into your career or that you would like to influence a change of direction if you are in employment.

Needs: You may have particular requirements that influence your career decisions, for example earning a certain salary, working in a specific geographic location, or caring responsibilities.  Can you identify what your requirements are?

Personality: Certain aspects of your personality may influence the style in which you deal with people or approach tasks.  For example, you may be decisive, sensitive to others, cautious, competitive, methodical, confident, relaxed, outgoing, and so on. In what way might your personality impact your satisfaction and success in different careers?

How can you assess these personal factors?

To reflect on what you would like in terms of your future career you could:

  • Do an audit of your level of confidence in different skills and consider if you would like to use them in a career, and to what extent.  


  • Carry out an assessment of your strengths, that is things you do well and enjoy

Strengths exercise (login to MyEd or MyCareerhub necessary to access)

  • Think about which values you hold that you would like to be satisfied in your career.  You could complete the values exercise below or use the Motivation at Work assessment to help you to consider what is most important to you in career.

Motivation at work (log in to MyEd or MyCareerhub necessary to access)  


  • Look at personality indicators such as the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI), which can help you think about the influence of your personality on your career choice. You can access the assessments below to reflect on aspects of your personality (university log in necessary)

Personality Insight

Temperament Assessment

  • Make an appointment to talk to a Careers Consultant (available online or on campus).