Thanks to Janet Forsyth, Careers Consultant, for this.
Finals over and not sure you’re going to get the result you hoped for? It isn’t necessarily all doom and gloom. I’ve been in this job a long time, and seen generations of students who didn’t get what they’d hoped for. And yes, it can be a painful experience. However, with adversity comes opportunity – it’s a new starting point, a chance to reassess and demonstrate the resilience that is looked for by many employers, and a great opportunity for personal growth.
As one PhD grad now working for the Scottish Government put it “my 2:2 just made me more determined to get a PhD, as I wanted to prove myself and show everyone that being a scientist isn’t about being good at exams”- a great example of resilience.
‘What matters most is how you respond to your degree result. See it as a disaster, and it may be; see it as an opportunity to reflect, review and move on, it can lead to great positive opportunities.’
There’s also increasing recognition from employers that it’s not all about exam-results when it comes to assessing whether a person is suitable for a particular role. For example, some of the big professional services companies (EY, PWC, Deloitte, KPMG) have done away with degree-classification as part of their assessment, or lowered their degree-classification/UCAS-point requirements, and instead look to your strengths to assess your suitability for roles with them. And you demonstrate your strengths from many areas of your life – your extra-curricular activities, interests, work experience etc, as well as your academic work.
And for a long time the Civil Service Fast Stream has been happy with 2:2 or above, as they put far more emphasis on your competencies and strengths. So if your lower-than-expected results come from spending more time on your extra-curricular activities – involvement in clubs and societies, volunteering etc, then you may well have been adding value to what you have to offer an employer, in a different way.
‘Don’t panic, this is just the start of your career and what you do in the years ahead will define you. Not your degree result.’
So if you’re coming out with a 2:2 rather than the 2:1 or above you hoped for, there are still plenty of opportunities out there – you may just have to work a bit harder to find them. And the further away from your graduation you get, the less your degree-classification matters. As one of my careers-colleagues put it – ‘Employers don’t ask about your degree classification once you are working’, they’ll be far more interested in what you’ve got from your work experience since graduating.
Tomorrow: Janet looks at practical steps and flexible thinking to keep you on track.