Zoology Career Path: Suzanne (31), Account Director

This is the first of many interviews that I’ve done with graduates who are approx. 10yrs out of university. The people I’ve interviewed are across 16 different disciplines i.e. finance, engineering, media, health, IT etc. I ask them about their thought processes re: university, their career paths (in this case a Zoology Career Path) and what career advice they would give to young people now. With the benefit of hindsight, people point out their mistakes and what they would advise young people to do now. There is some tremendous life advice in these interviews whatever your age, I hope you find the info useful.

What is your degree in?

Bachelor of Science (Zoology)

Why did you do the degree you did?

I wanted to study Zoology when I was a child

Did you know about any zoology career path available to you coming out of university?

  • A zoology career path is very specialised, I would have had to do a PhD for another 4/5 years and then specialise in something very specific
  • There was an animal care course in the UK which would get you a job working in a zoo, but that wasn’t for me.
  • I did look at postgrads, working with the fisheries and environmental agencies, but Ireland is quite limited in that area, UK would have had more opportunities. Also, I was young, I had confidence issues, I wasn’t sure what I was capable of doing, nobody gave me career advice.
  • I signed up to a couple of job alerts but they were all in different countries, I knew I needed a break, so I went travelling

Zoology Career Path 2

What did you do when you realised there was no future for you in a zoology career path?

  • I always wanted to go travelling, after university, but I needed money.
  • My sister worked in finance in a hotel, and she got me an accounts assistant. job, I worked there for a year and then I went travelling
  • When I came home there was a recession, for someone with a general degree in a non-distinct field it was a terrible time to be unemployed
  • I was unemployed for 6mths which was not a nice experience.
  • A sales job was the only job I could get – the commission was 2.5 times my salary so I was on great money for a 23year old.

If you could go back what would you do degree-wise and why?

  • I wouldn’t have changed my degree, I was interested in it, and it was a well regarded university
  • Science is also highly regarded as its more analytical and not one of the softer degrees
  • The academic universities really don’t give you career advice, there is no conversation around career development. Other universities were a lot more industry focused, there were work placements, focus on career advice etc., so keep that in mind when you are picking your university
  • We didn’t have any career advice until 4th year when they sit down and tell you that you won’t get a job out of this degree.

What jobs have you done since graduating? And what have they entailed?

2016 – 2017              Account Director (Media Company)

Managing a set of client accounts, for the company, ensuring that they are profitable, and growing.

2013 – 2016              Business Analyst / Finance (Media Company)

Designing, building and owning finance processes

2011 – 2013              Accounts Assistant (Hotel group)

Supporting the finance team in ensuring all costs and revenues are correctly accounted for

2009 – 2011              Sales Consultant (Telecom Company)

Selling and fixing phones in a phone shop

2011 – 2013              Accounts Assistant (Hotel group)

Supporting the finance team in ensuring all costs and revenues are correctly accounted for

Things you most like about job, and things you don’t like?

Like:

  1. The variety, I get bored easily
  2. Interacting with people, customer/client facing roles
  3. The creativity, even in my finance role, I was designing processes, so I could create and not just conform
  4. The autonomy, being able to do what I want in my role

 Don’t like:

  1. The monotony, the same thing day in day out
  2. Roles that are too rigid – I hate companies that time you in and out
  3. Roles that you are just on your own stuck at a computer or in a lab

 Do you prefer working for a big company or a smaller company?

  • The company was very small when I joined, there was 30 people now there is 200
  • I like the small to mid-sized companies
  • Small companies are easy to progress in, and they are lot more fun

Have you had much fun over the years working?

  • The most fun jobs I had would be the non-finance roles.
  • Having fun in work is important to me.
  • One of the core values in this company is having fun, media is also a young fun industry

Zoology Career Path 3

If you could start over, what would you do differently career-wise?

  • I wouldn’t change my degree, as I did enjoy it, but I would have done more research into zoology career paths and the different options available
  • I’d spend more time researching roles, what jobs there is available, what people do for a living, and what they earn.
  • I didn’t even think about money when I was younger.
  • I would have focused on the interests that I have, and sought out career advice a little bit earlier. I went in lots of different directions, I eventually got here, but I would have liked to get here sooner.

 What tips would you give a student now?

  • You must strike a balance between what you enjoy and what you can earn a decent living doing.
  • Lots of people do something that will pay a lot of money i.e. law, accounting, but then mightn’t really enjoy it.
  • Other people do something in univeristy that is fun and interesting but you can’t get any good jobs out of it.
  • Look at job websites, what are the type of roles people have? what industries are out there? what skills do these jobs look for?
  • Don’t just do accounting because it is what everyone else is doing, or go to university as that’s the norm, don’t be afraid to take a year out and try and figure things out. i.e. don’t rush into a zoology career path you mightn’t necessarily like.
  • Do your research, the more you know, the more informed decisions you will be able to make
  • Also, If you are in a company you do like but you don’t like the role, how can you up-skill yourself to get roles where you will be happy?

 What gets you further – knowing people or being good at your job?

  • You must be good at your job, as if you are not then you will eventually get found out
  • I got at least two roles by knowing people, it’s incredibly important, people won’t recommend you if you are sh*t
  • Even in an organisation, it’s important to know the right people, being in the right circles, and to be well respected by the right people, just play the game a bit.

If I was a kid who didn’t have a clue, I would say don’t worry about it, it will all work out, just look at my meandering zoology career path!

If you have any questions on a Zoology Career Path, on career advice in general, or want to let me know what you think of the post, please do get in touch by posting a comment or using the ‘Contact’ section of the Blog, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Paul Murphy

4 Responses

  1. Hi, I’m the person you linked me from “The Student Room”, thankyou for this article. It was an interesting read as I an certainly relate to the lack of career advice until the last minute. It’s truely heatbreaking to know that you can’t get a career in what you inspired and putof lt of time and effort in studying. Im thankful to know that after a lot of struggle this person made it out in what seems a happy and sucessful outcome. Which is the inspiration I need at the moment in my current struggle.

    • No problem at all Lauren! I think Suzanne would be delighted to know that reading her story my help someone in some way. Feel free to email me any questions you might have, as very keen to help young people learn and avoid the mistakes my generation have made!!! My biggest tip would be to seek out people like Suzanne on linkedin who are a few years older than you and ask them for advice, if you type in your degree course/job title into linkedin, you will find people who are a few years older than you, and message them looking for advice – they will be only too willing to help. If you don’t get many results back from Linkedin, have a google and try and find people in their late 20’s in the area you might be interested in. Talking to a few of those types of people will be so valuable and help you stop overthinking things I think! Good Luck!!!!

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