The Alternative Careers Society is an organisation created to help students investigate the graduate labour market, and discover the wide varitey of career opportunities available to them upon leaving LSE.
FROM ARTICHOKE SOCIETY TO ALTERNATIVE CAREERS SOCIETY
Previously called the Artichoke Society, we have recently (Michelmas Term 2016) renewed and revamped our society. Most notably, we changed our name from the "Artichoke Society" to "Alternative Careers Society", in order to make our society's objective clearer.
Why "Alternative Careers Society"?
Alternative: relating to activities that depart from or challenge traditional norms.
Before you think we are "anti-corporate" or "anti-finance", we are not. Our aim is to expand students' knowledge and perspectives of the career opportunities available to them after graduation. At LSE, we are encouraged to go down very well-trodden paths: that of finance (particularly Investment Banking), or that of corporate law. This society's objective is to help students understand that there are a sea of other opportunities and careers.
During the year, we host a variety of events, that often involve themed panel discussions, with speakers coming to talk about their career, career progression, and give advice. We often pick speakers who have university degrees which are available at LSE, such as Law or Economics, but chose a slightly unexpected career path.
Our events culminate in a conference near the end of Lent Term, which includes panel discussions, skill sessions, and networking.
Why were we founded as the "Artichoke Society"?
Inspired by Marina Keegan's Yale Daily News article 'Even artichokes have doubts' (2011), our society received the support of the Artichoke Fund. The society seeked to create a network of like-minded students that wished to bring about a positive change. Keegan's article was an attempt to understand why so many talented students, once full of inspiring ambitions, turned to financial and consulting careers. Her conclusions were that young people rarely aspired to these careers but fell into them through convenience, cultural expectation and a need for validation.
"Alternative Careers Society" is also stimulated by the idea that a great proportion of students, particularly at LSE, go into financial and consulting careers, due to the culture surrounding these jobs. We are not here to discourage people from taking on these career paths, but we believe that choosing a career is an important decision. Thus, we wish to ensure that students know the wide variety of jobs available to them before picking a career. Examples of these, from our events, are careers in the Arts sector (for instance in auction houses), in "alternative" areas of law (such as Art Law, Space Law, and Sports Law), or positions in NGOs.
Founded on the principle of the betterment of society, and once a centre of student activism, the LSE has, like Yale, become a key target for financial and consulting firms' recruiting teams. Indeed, in 2012/13, 34 per cent of graduates were employed in the banking, finance, accounting or consulting sector six months after graduating. According to the UK Graduate Careers Survey, in 2012, 41 per cent of students in their final year had applied for careers in investment banking and 26 per cent had applied for careers in management consulting.
Our research suggests that this data rarely reflects students' true aspirations, and we aim to ensure students are aware of all of the careers and paths available to them. We are not prescriptive, and recognise that too often students are exposed to the industries and sectors with the most resources and ability to advertise successfully. This leads to our brightest making decisions of convenience, rather than of passion.
We continue to be based at the LSE but our membership extends to students from around the world. Our focus is on researching students' career aspirations and opportunities, as well as providing resources to aid graduates making career choices. Our emphasis is on inspiring students by highlighting the stories of graduates who have successfully pursued an alternative path.