To niche or not to niche

By Ethan Sia and Shi Tianyun

Graduating from university is quite an achievement. Although it’s no easy feat to receive a degree, some graduates find themselves ill-equipped for work in the real world as they may lack relevant skills. Employers too are increasingly on the lookout for individuals that possess certain skills that the industry requires. For instance, a flair for programming languages would be what a technology company is looking for when hiring technical staff.

For an individual who knows exactly which industry he wants to break into after graduation, a general degree like a broad-based Bachelor of Arts or Science may not boost him in his future job search. Instead, universities that offer niche degrees might be a better place for further education.

A niche degree, also known as a specialised degree, is a course of study designed to focus on a particular subject. While it’s less comprehensive than a general one, niche degrees provide direct insight and training on a specific field of study and further prepares students for ready work in a specific industry.

For instance, an aspiring journalist could do well to pursue a general Mass Communications degree. Not only will the course touch on journalism, but equal focus is placed on public relations and advertising – these modules may not be useful for someone who has his heart set on journalism. He could do better to take on a Journalism degree, where everything taught will be related to the world of journalism.

Here’s how a niche degree can give one an edge.

Establish core competencies

Miss Ananthi, Principal and CEO of ITC School of Laws, feels that specialised degrees focus on the skills needed in the industry of your choice. “If you take law as your choice for example, you learn everything about law and this paves your career direction as a lawyer after graduation,” says Miss Ananthi. “Having a specialised degree will show your potential employers specifically what you’re good at.”

For example, the courses that ITC School of Laws offer emphasises on law studies, and students will be able to specialise in a certain field like Criminal, Common and Intellectual Property.

Equip with ready-for-work skills

In some industries, employers are looking for individuals who have the skills and knowledge of the industry practices so they can start doing real work immediately with minimal training.

For example, if you are looking to break into the hospitality industry, a course that gives students an in-depth knowledge and equip you with practical skills, like tourism marketing strategies, will put them in good stead to start work in hospitality after graduation. Take for instance, those who study at the school of hospitality of DIMENSIONS International College. Modules like International Hospitality and Tourism Market will help them pick up analytical skills on the characteristics of the international markets and come up with appropriate marketing decisions or strategies that a hospitality professional requires.

Shorter Job Search

“When potential employers see that you have a specialised skill on your resume, this increases the chances of getting hired. Especially in the field of logistics, specific skill sets like control, tracking and storage of supplies are highly valued.” says Mike, a graduate from the Universal College of Dublin in Logistics and Shipment.

With a degree that specialised in warehousing, Mike had no problem securing a job in just six weeks after graduation. Not only was he able to zoom into positions that required his warehousing expertise, he found that he received responses from interested potential employers quicker and he believed that’s because he has the exact skills that they are looking for.

If the above agrees with you, here are some points to ponder about before you jump into a niche degree.

Be clear about your purpose

Make sure you are taking the course only because you want to move on a specific career path or want to make a job switch. Having such specific skills will restrict you to a certain job scope and you may not be able to branch out that easily.

Other options

Seek out other alternatives. Instead of a degree, will a short course help develop the certain skills you are seeking after? In this way, you might also be able to save time and money.

What other ways do you think a niche degree will be advantageous to your career? Share with us in the comment box!

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