Use your subject


Think about what 'using your subject' means to you and what you're really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it's a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

As a start, use the resources below to create your own list of career ideas to research.

Remember that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject.

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Law graduates on Prospects and Targetjobs (Barrister) and Targetjobs (Solicitor) but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start-ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject.

Some career options

Our information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start to explore the following occupational areas. However you are not restricted to these and you should also consider any other additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Here is just one example of the diverse range of careers you can enter. Peter is a Law graduate, now working for Twinkl.

Adult / education guidance workers

Often support young people or those undergoing a period of transition (such as redundancy or ill-health/disability issues) to think constructively about their career, learning and training opportunities. You will offer information, advice and guidance (IAG) on education, training and work options available and help clients make and implement well-informed and realistic decisions about their future.

You may work in a team in a large organisation or as a sole operator in a voluntary group whose focus may be on 'hard to reach' or marginalised groups.

Use our Occupations section Community, guidance and social care for more information and links to useful websites.


Barristers are specialists in advocacy and represent individuals or organisations in court; they provide independent sources of legal advice. They are hired by solicitors to represent/provide advocacy for a case in a court where needed. Barristers plead the case on behalf of their client and the client's solicitor.

Many barristers work on a self-employed basis in 'chambers' offices, while others work in government departments or agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service but increasingly work in other organisations such as charities.

Use our Occupations section Barrister for more information and links to useful websites.

Chartered legal executive / paralegal

Carry out similar work to a solicitor so combine good analytical and communications skills with a strong interest in the law. Paralegals provide support to solicitors and barristers in a variety of law firms, chambers and in private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations. Their tasks often mirror the work of a trainee or recently qualified solicitor.

Specific job titles can vary depending on the organisation and legal practice area; clerks, legal executives, legal assistants or caseworkers.

Use our Occupations section Legal careers for more information and links to useful websites.

Civil servant

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated leadership development programme providing graduates with the experience, skills and knowledge to become senior leaders within the Civil Service. It recruits graduates into a variety of administrative and policy roles via the Fast Stream or the general entry routes.

Through a variety of different placements or postings in government departments and agencies you’ll get experience of working in front-line operational delivery, policy and corporate roles and depending on the role potentially working with general public or senior government advisers or government ministers. If you want to influence decisions or make a difference on government policy and public service at a national level, enjoy analytical work, presenting persuasive evidence-based reports, scrutinising the implications of public sector policy and are eager to take on responsibility then you might enjoy the Civil Service Fast Stream.

If you are a language graduate you may be particularly attracted to roles/departments such as the Diplomatic Services Operational Officer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Trade, the Department for International Development and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which has a lot of links to Europe.

Departments of specific interest to scientists include Government Statistical Service, Government Operational Research Service, Science and Engineering Scheme and the Project Delivery Scheme, but there are many more.

Use our Occupations section Public sector administration for more information and links to useful websites.

Community development worker

Brings people together often from 'disadvantaged' or marginalised groups in society. As a community development worker you will help communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. You have goals to help to empower individuals, families and whole communities to increase positive health or educational outcomes. You will show a genuine passion for assisting others and understanding causes and ways to tackle structural inequalities. You may be employed by charities or local authorities.

Relevant work experience eg through volunteering or a related area of work is essential in order to secure a career in this field.

Use our Occupations section Community, guidance and social care for more information and links to useful websites.

Patent attorney / patent examiner

If you have an interest in law, a methodical and meticulous attention to detail and excellent written communication skills you may enjoy applying your technical background and engineering degree to this area of work.

In this role you will assess whether inventions are eligible to be patented by searching through existing records of patents that have been approved and assessing whether the new product is sufficiently new and innovative. You will develop extensive knowledge of intellectual property law and have highly honed skills in drafting patents.

You may also advise companies and individuals through the process of gaining a patent or enforcing infringements.

Use our Occupations section Patents for more information and links to useful websites.

Police officer / detective

Policemen and women work in partnership with the communities they serve to maintain law and order, assist and protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for all citizens. You'll use a range of technology to protect individuals, identify the perpetrators of crime and ensure successful prosecutions against those who break the law.

Use our Occupations section Defence for more information and links to useful websites.

Prison officer

A prison officer is responsible for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of people committed to prison by the courts. This includes motivating prisoners to do what is best for themselves and others around them within a safe and healthy environment.

Prison officers establish and maintain positive working relationships with prisoners, balancing authority with understanding and compassion, in order to effect rehabilitation. The nature of the role demands thinking on your feet, making quick decisions and dealing effectively with unexpected situations.

Use our Occupations section Defence for more information and links to useful websites.

Probation officer

Probation officers manage offenders in order to protect the public and reduce the incidence of re-offending. They work with offenders in courts, in communities and in custody to make communities safer. Probation officers interact with offenders, victims, police and prison service colleagues; collaborating with relevant statutory and voluntary agencies.

You may manage enforce the conditions of community orders/alternatives to prison sentences. You will motivate offenders to engage in components such as unpaid community payback work or run alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes.

Use our Occupations section Defence for more information and links to useful websites.

Social worker

Social workers work with vulnerable people and families to support them through difficult times and help ensure they are safeguarded from harm. This role involves providing emotional and practical support, guidance and advocacy to improve people's life outcomes.

Based in a range of settings; service users own homes, schools, hospitals or other public sector or, increasingly third sector organisations, they comply with a framework of relevant legislation and procedures. They tend to specialise in either working with children & families or adults/older people.

They maintain professional relationships with people, acting as guides and advocates. They sometimes need to use their professional judgement to make tough decisions that might not always be well received by those they are trying to help.

Use our Occupations section Community, guidance and social care for more information and links to useful websites.


Solicitors provide expert legal support and advice on necessary courses of legal action having taken 'instructions' from a client/s. Clients can be individuals, groups, public sector organisations or private companies. You may work in private practice, in-house for commercial or industrial organisations, in local or central government or in the court service.

The work varies depending on the setting, specialist area and the nature of the case. Solicitors usually specialise to advise in areas such as: personal/family issues, commercial work or protecting individuals' rights.

Use our Occupations section Solicitor for more information and links to useful websites.

Youth worker

Youth workers guide and support young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential in society. You'll generally work with young people aged between 11 and 25 in a variety of settings such as colleges, faith-based groups, schools and youth centres.

Use our Occupations section Community, guidance and social care for more information and links to useful websites.