My brilliant career move

March 20, 1998

Two graduates explain why they diverged from their degree paths soon after starting work

Graham Lawton studied biochemistry at Imperial College, London, graduating in 1992. "My first degree prepared me for work to some extent. It made me realise that I didn't want to be a biochemist. Beyond that it provided very little," he says.

The university offered no work placements for students on his degree course. "I don't think I was very career-minded as an undergraduate. If I thought about life after college at all it was when I was forced into it by a careers officer. Then I would half-heartedly talk about forensic science, or teaching, or publishing, or some other area I knew nothing about. The careers service wasn't much help if you didn't know what you wanted to do."

But when, in Graham's final year, Imperial set up a new MSc in science communication (designed to prepare students for careers in journalism), he felt he had found the perfect career. "It sounded fantastic; I applied, but was turned down. They advised me learn something about the media, then try again. So I started to look for media-related jobs." Eventually he landed some work at a press-cuttings agency - reading newspapers at night.

After two and a half years Graham reapplied for the MSc, having gained confidence and financial backing. "I was offered a place and completed the course. I'm now the news editor on a science and business magazine called Chemistry & Industry."

In terms of work experience the course was ideal, "the MSc was split about 50/50 between academic work and vocational training. I use the vocational skills all the time. I wouldn't be here without them".

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