Careers for Philosophers
Although Philosophy is an immensely enjoyable subject for its own sake, it is also a good preparation for a career in many areas. We are concerned to help our students develop beyond their undergraduate degree, whether that is into further study in Philosophy, or employment outside the University.
Carrying on in Philosophy
If you have enjoyed your undergraduate degree, and have done well, then you may want to think about research work at postgraduate level, either at Sheffield or another university. If so, you should start planning early in your third year, by looking at our graduate brochure (available from the office) or our web-site page for prospective graduates.
You should also discuss possibilities with our Director of Graduate Admissions (Stephen Laurence), who would be happy to see you.
In recent years, Sheffield has developed a strong graduate school, with one of the best programmes in the country. Staff can also advise on other departments, if you are thinking of leaving Sheffield. Competition at postgraduate level is keen, particularly for funding: so normally only students who are heading for a First or strong 2.1 would be advised to set their sights on postgraduate work in philosophy.
Careers outside Philosophy
For those leaving the academic world after graduation, employment prospects for those who have studied Philosophy are comparable to those for Arts Faculty subjects in general.
In a recent survey of Philosophy graduates two and five years after graduating, all were in employment, and in an interesting and varied range of careers: further details can be downloaded from the link. Those surveyed also spoke enthusiastically about how having done Philosophy had helped them in their careers.
For an interesting collection of links to articles about how beneficial a philosophy degree can be one's career, and has been to the careers of many famous individuals have a look at the website below.
It may be, however, than in making applications for employment you will encounter misconceptions about philosophy and even sometimes a degree of prejudice about the subject. You should be prepared for this when writing your CV or taking an interview.
In fact, philosophy should provide you with a range of skills and abilities that will be valuable in many different careers, including the ability to summarize information clearly and accurately, to think critically and independently, and to define tasks and objectives.
Preparing for a career
While at the University, you should take the following steps to prepare for your future career:
- Make contact with the Careers Service, and be aware of what they have to offer.
- Make use of the Personal Development Plan to identify what skills you can learn through studying for your degree, such as IT skills, or oral skills developed in seminar discussions and presentations.
- Plan in advance, and be well prepared for opportunities that come up.
- Think about your CV. (You will be asked to submit a CV to the Department in the easter of your final year, which can help us with reference writing.)
- Think about who you would like to use in the Department as your referee. (This should obviously be someone who knows you reasonably well, such as your Personal Advisor, or one of your lecturers.)
- The Department holds a careers information day in February, inviting back ex-Philosophy students who now have careers to come and talk about their experiences and to offer advice: this is a helpful event for you to attend.
Our Departmental careers advisor is Ryan Byerly, who would be happy to see you to discuss any questions you might have.