Maximising your success
University societies, recruitment fairs, an industry placement and networking can do more to enhance your post-study career than your results alone.
by Fran Molloy
Getting strategic with your postgraduate study isn’t just about getting high marks; nailing an interesting post-university career involves getting relevant industry experience and getting in front of potential employers. That’s how engineer James Balsillie found his dream job in Technology, Strategy and Architecture at Deloitte.
His job looking at high-level IT strategies for the company calls on critical thinking skills honed in his engineering studies.
“The physics and maths I learnt was fun and challenging, but it’s the problem-solving and creating something new that was the real appeal,” James says.
Learning to pitch his skill set and understand his key motivations allowed James find a career he loves; and it was thanks to university networks that he worked out where his future could lie.
“At its core, engineering is about innovating. It’s about looking at your surroundings and working out how to make them better,” he says.
After graduating from the University of Queensland with a degree in electrical engineering, James did a Master of Engineering at RMIT.
The RMIT networking nights, where James spoke to recruiters from tech-based startups through to big corporates, helped him get in front of not just engineering businesses, but a wider range of companies.
“I met recruiters from Deloitte at a networking event,” he says. “Deloitte wasn’t on my radar until then, because it hadn’t crossed my mind that what I do could be relevant.
“You get opportunities to get your face in front of people from the companies you are thinking about joining, and to ask them exactly what the jobs involve and what they are looking for,” he adds.
Those conversations helped James realise that companies also consider unique skills outside work – like his own passion for songwriting and playing piano – to diversify their workforce.
For Katrina Nguyen-Thai, joining Deloitte Digital as an experience design consultant came about thanks to an industry placement during her double degree in commerce and business information systems at Monash University – her “first taste” of the corporate world. She also joined the Women in IT society and held committee positions with the Business and Commerce Students’ Society.
“It was a huge driver in keeping me involved and engaged with the business and IT industries, networking with others in the industry and gaining exposure to a range of employment postgraduate opportunities,” she says.
But she rates her industry placement as the real key to her success. “The highlight of my degree was the six months I spent in the Deloitte Risk Services team for the Industry Based Learning program in my Bachelor of Information Systems degree,” she says.
“Not only did I already have my ‘foot in the door’, I was able to effectively communicate to the Deloitte recruiters why I would be a strong fit for the team.”
Working on client projects helped her understand the professional service industry. “I developed a range of soft skills beyond what was taught at university,” she says, citing time management, client interaction, communication and writing skills as examples.
“Completing an industry placement while still studying allowed me to become a well-rounded, industry-ready graduate much sooner than most of my peers,” Katrina says.
Click here to find out more about opportunities at Deloitte.
Featured image:Deloitte’s Katrina Nguyen-Thai and James Balsillie
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“I developed soft skills beyond what was taught at university.”
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs