Career and course exploration during COVID-19

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Career and course exploration during COVID-19

What is ‘career and course exploration’?

Career and course exploration means exploring and finding out more about the career or subject area you are interested in. You might have decided upon the types of courses you are interested in, be considering a few different subject areas, or you maybe you haven’t given it much thought yet. No matter which stage you are at, this kind of research will be really beneficial for you! In normal circumstances, some universities expect this for certain subjects.

You might be wondering how you can explore your career or course options, as it’s not possible to visit places or people or do traditional work experience just now.

The good news is, there are so many excellent ways you can explore your career or subject from your own home! We’ve written this blog post to help you make the most of this time at home, during lockdown, to work towards your university and college aspirations - keep reading for links to resources...

Take advantage of this time, and universities and colleges will be impressed that you did!

Top tip: If it seems unclear what the universities are looking for during the COVID-19 crisis, e.g. how much work experience or if any, the best thing to do is to contact them and ask – they are a friendly bunch and it’s okay to ask!

Here are even more reasons why career exploration will help:

  • Try before you buy – by doing this type of research, you’ll see if you actually like the subject area! (Disclaimer: you might realise through this process that the career or subject area isn’t for you. That is totally ok, and will help you to think about where your interests do lie).
  • Universities and colleges are keen to see this type of research in your application! It will show you are motivated, passionate and interested, and help to make your application stand out.
  • You can develop skills and knowledge that will help you when starting your course.

Top tip: Make notes as you go! For example:

  • What insights are you gaining into the subject / career?
  • What are the skills and qualities required?
  • Are there any topics which particularly grab your attention?
  • Your research might also give you some ideas on future career paths.

You can reflect on all of this in your application! We've created a useful reflection sheet to help you with this.

Career and course exploration resources

The following resources have content relating to a huge range of subject areas and careers. Best of all – they are all FREE. Check them out!

  • Future Learn provides short online courses on a huge range of topics. Top tip: there is no need to pay for the certificate of completion. Simply note down the name of the course and it is enough to mention this in your application. Similarly, check out Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) (not all courses are free, but many are!).
  • Gresham College Lecture Series for taster lectures on a wide range of subjects.
  • JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books and primary sources. You’ll read lots of these types of texts while studying at university. Try reading a few articles related to your subject area, but don’t worry if you don’t understand everything just yet!
  • MyHE+ is created by Cambridge students and academics, giving a quick guide for what it is like to study the subject at university level as well as guided activities, questions to think about and suggestions for further reading.
  • BBC Sounds, including Podcasts and Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’. ‘In Our Time’ is a BBC radio discussion series. Also, see Scrambled Eggs Podcast for short podcasts on lots on topics and TEDx has over 3,400 short talks.

University and college websites are also a great way to find out what courses actually involve. Check out our blog on ‘Choosing courses at university or college’ for resources and helpful tips.  

We've also created a subject-specific career and course exploration list. Follow this link to access these resources!

Have you come across other useful online career and course exploration resources? Let us know your suggestions by emailing leaps@ed.ac.uk, and we can share here on this blog!