[Video above - Dr Maxim Bolt discusses careers and employability in the African Studies open day presentation]
As a student of African Studies you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are highly prized by employers. Our graduates have the ability to research and analyse complex information, work independently and as part of a team, and communicate judgments and arguments effectively. African Studies has the advantage of being a distinctive degree that really helps you to stand out from the crowd. It makes you an Africa expert, opening up an increasing range of career possibilities as Africa's economy grows and African countries become more influential in the world.
The University of Birmingham is ranked highly for employability for all African Studies degree courses. We are third in the 2014 Complete University Guide Middle Eastern and African Studies ranking. Recent graduates have gone into: bank management, teaching, the civil service and Foreign Office, Department of International Development graduate scheme, retail management, aid work, welfare rights, EFL teaching, computer programming and the media. We are proud that our former students have been involved in founding and supporting the NGO Challenge Africa.
Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice.
We also hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities. Our students are encouraged to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our 'Global Challenge' to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.
Geography graduates have an excellent employment record after University. Past evidence shows that you will be highly regarded by employers because you will be flexible, able to write and analyse well and have a broad range of transferable skills relevant to the challenges of today and tomorrow.
If you use your time at university well, when you graduate you will be literate and able to write well in a number of different styles, and structure an argument fully. You will also be able to use a wide range of IT programmes and be familiar with industry-standard software packages, as well as proficient in the use of maps, visual media and images to effectively support your proposals. You will have developed personal transferable skills such as communication, presentation, and teamwork, and be able to use your own initiative, solve problems and manage your own time. This combination of skills will set you in good stead for a wide range of different careers upon graduation.
Many Geography graduates use their skills to get jobs directly related to geography, including nature conservation, environmental consultancy, tourism development, and town planning. A significant proportion also go on to pursue careers in teaching. A number of students get jobs in the public services, the commercial sector and industry, including financial and professional services, personnel management, retail, and local government. Around a quarter of graduates tend to go on to further study before entering employment including PGCE's (for teaching), one-year taught Masters courses (such as those for town planning), or a doctoral research programme.
With a degree in Geography the opportunities are plentiful, and only you know which career path you would like to take. Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team within the College who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive at Birmingham.
To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.
We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.
Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.