12 May 2017

How smooth is your drive?

If you're a driver, you know that you need to service your car regularly. Sometimes, you need to change the wheels, replace components, but you're basically swapping out the same thing for the same thing (even when they're still functioning well!). It feels like a waste but you still do it, because if you don't, sometime down the track you know your car will break down.

The same can be said for your career development. You might have already figured out what roles you want to work in after you graduate, and you may already have a neat list of professional and extracurricular activities lined up on your CV. Regardless, it is extremely important that you revisit and ensure your career development path is well maintained and still relevant. Otherwise, your car may break down somewhere down the line.

Three simple steps that you can go through periodically to service your car:
1. The Ideal Journey Forward
The destination is important, but what is perhaps even more important is to consider the journey you're taking to get there and making sure it is something you're happy with. Three questions to think about when considering your next step in your career journey:

  • What experiences do you want to gain?
  • How do you want to grow?
  • What do you want to contribute to?
2. Service Your Car
You need to assess where you are at now and what type of car you have (i.e. your academics, your professional experiences and leadership experiences), and ask yourself whether you are happy to take this car on your ideal journey forward. Which part of the car do you need to focus on servicing for you to be happy?

3. Choose Your Road
The landscape is constantly changing. Knowing the ideal journey you want to have and having a newly serviced car can help you choose the best path. Search for new opportunities that can bring you experiences and growth you want, as well as contributions you desire to make. Keep an open mind and you might find yourself in a better career path than you had previously imagined!

Come drop in to the Careers Lounge at the Basement of the Abercrombie Business School and we will help you with servicing your car and choosing the next road to take. We provide resume/CV checks, cover letter reviews and one-on-one career counselling. 

CEO programs I have participated in and why I loved being a part of it:
  • Mentoring: it is a great way to give back and contribute to nurturing the future of the Business School 
  • IPP: it is a great way to gain industry experience and find out what you love to do with the people you like doing it with.
  • Career Leaders: it is a fantastic place to help others with their journey of professional development and career progression. Gain some tips for yourself too, while you're at it!
Dream Career: multi-industry entrepreneur 

Where do you want to be in ten years? 
Travelling  the globe consulting for MNCs on cross-industry developments.

What CEO service do you highly recommend students to utilise:
Resume review and workshops & events. Having a focused environment to work on yourself in the Careers and Student Experience Lounge. 

By James Leung, current Bachelor of Commerce and Science student at the University of Sydney Business School

9 May 2017

Learning outside of the classroom

Recently a few of our students travelled to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, as part of their Service Learning in Indigenous Community (SLIC) coursework. This new service learning program is one of several across New South Wales and the Northern Territory that seeks to provide innovative learning and teaching outside the classroom, whilst tackling real-world challenges faced in these rural communities.

Service Learning in Indigenous Community April 2017

Business students collaborated with other students from various faculties to help develop an implementation plan for a shared decisions and benefits model that will serve the region in the foreseeable future. Here is what they've got to say:

Tell us about your experience in Kakadu?

"Kakadu was amazing. We did more than I imagined I could do within my Commerce degree. Within an interdisciplinary team, we learnt about the culture, way of life and history of the Mirarr clan, often also working on our project as a collective bunch. Highlights at Kakadu for me were definitely the interactions we had with the community - whether that’d be playing ultimate frisbee or soccer with the kids and dancing along at their school dance or being taken on a tour by the traditional owners. There was no doubt about it. I fell in love with the community and didn’t want to leave by the end of it." - Lisa K

"For a while, I had always wanted to visit Kakadu National Park. When the opportunity came up, I knew I couldn't turn it down. And I'm glad I didn't. Being able to visit the region and also gain first-hand experience by visiting the local townships, getting to know the local Indigenous community and also learning about the history of their land was quite amazing. It was such an eye-opening experience which has certainly enriched my learning at the University." - Vince

"When we arrived at the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), it was quite overwhelming and challenging at first as we were to plan the implementation of a shared decision making model that will benefit the Aboriginal communities as well as other key stakeholders. During the 8 days of the trip, we were given the opportunity to meet a couple who identify themselves as the Mirarr people - the Traditional Owners of the region. They spoke and enlightened us with their deep connection to their land and their way of life; through hunting, art and so much more. These were all such valuable experiences that cannot be described in words." - Lisa T

How did you find Service Learning compared to learning out of the traditional classroom?

"Service learning is different on a number of levels. It provided me with the opportunity to go out on Country and engage with traditional land owners on a one-on-one basis which was highly invaluable. The ability to go to Kakadu and apply theoretical knowledge learnt from class to help solve real-life issues pressing that region is an experience you don't get in a traditional unit of study. It’s the sort of experience that challenges you to think critically and work together to ensure that you’re not just meeting your own objectives but that you are able to deliver on the expectations of the community." - Vince

"Service Learning in Indigenous Community (SLIC) has allowed us to apply our knowledge learnt at university into a more practical sense. It really triggers your problem solving skills and challenges you as the project you're tackling will directly impact upon the Aboriginal community. Moreover, being able to experience and explore Kakadu was a great opportunity and the people we have met there were extremely down-to-earth." - Lisa T 

"For someone who loved excursions and history in high school, this unit combined just that with my business side of things. For one, normal classrooms, subject to online readings, lectures and tutorials, don’t allow first-hand interaction with communities and people. When ‘on-Country,’ we were able to go explore what Kakadu had to offer and its amazing past through the traditional owners of the land. Secondly, normal classroom units provide no opportunity for us to really apply what we know in the context of helping a whole community create a sustainable way of life. We were part of something greater than just marks." - Lisa K

Want to get involved?

You must have an elective Commerce unit available to apply for this program. Interested students who are enrolled in a Business School degree must check their eligibility before applying. Send an Expression of Interest to business.placements@sydney.edu.au including name, SID and degree enrolled in and include ‘SLIC’ in the email title. Learn more here.

Contributed by:
Vince Lam and Lisa Tu, current Bachelor of Commerce students and Lisa Kha, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School.

5 May 2017

The journey to the top

To be honest, I was completely surprised and shocked when EY announced my team, ‘Risky Business’ as the winner of the EY Case Competition. I think we all were pretty surprised. The four presentations we had just watched were so incredible! 
The USYD Business cheer squad

Looking back to the week prior, we weren’t even sure if we were going to submit our report because we didn’t think we would be able to finish it in time. We somehow managed to submit it, make it to the campus heats and had the privilege to go up against UNSW in the final round, held at EY's office in the Sydney CBD.  

Initially, preparing for the competition itself was stressful. After reading the case itself, we frantically researched the chosen topic – learning analytics and the university experience. This topic was interesting and engaging because it was such a relatable and relevant issue to university students and the future. Over the next week, our team read numerous articles which covered the topic to cultivate a deeper understanding of learning analytics. We then tried to develop our own take on the idea. 

After many long nights, we persevered and developed Lightbulb. This creation was the result of our week-long brainstorming sessions in the lead up to the campus finals. Our concept is a mobile application which combines all aspects of the student experience to encourage engagement and excitement within university. This ‘lightbulb’ theme flowed through our whole presentation, and became the core part of our solution itself.

After finding out we had made the campus heats, we attended the workshop presented by Dr. Zina O’Leary about the art of pitching. The workshop was genuinely so insightful and we have learnt so much on the do’s and don’ts of case competitions and pitching.

The campus finals consisted of the top 8 USYD teams, where only two would progress to the final against the UNSW teams.

The Risky Business Team (Sophie Jiang, Michelle Yang, Georgiana Ma and Hillary Liao) - left to right

As we only had a few days in-between the campus heats and finals and very little time to practice, by the time finals day had come around we were all very nervous and unsure of how we would go. We were told that our team would be the first one to present – which was quite daunting as it meant that we had to set the bar high! Luckily we had our very own USYD Business squad to cheer us on. The presentation went well, but it was the 5-minute question time that we were nervously waiting for. In the end, the nerves were replaced with relief and happiness as soon as we sat down after we finished the pitch and question time.

Throughout the journey, we met so many inspirational individuals and have definitely learnt a lot through the process. I highly recommend anyone thinking of entering a case competition to enter because the experience is amazing!

By Hillary Liao, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School and Vice President of the Network of Women.

Volunteering: preparing you for the world of work

Volunteering can be considered an altruistic activity where an individual or a group provides services for no financial gain to benefit another person, group or organisation. This is just one of the many definitions for volunteering, but what does volunteering give back to you as a volunteer? Volunteering can provide you with incredible experience, and perhaps to your surprise, can also give you an edge when you’re applying for work once you graduate.

First of all, let’s talk about Job Smart. Job Smart is a unique program at the Business School, where you can develop hands-on, work-related skills while you study. The importance of programs like this for students, is due to the highly competitive environment that characterises the workplace today. It is no longer sufficient to rely on good grades to get a job. Companies and recruiters want to see more. It’s the proactive student that have been involved in extra-curricular activities that they will choose to interview. Alongside set activities, Job Smart also requires students to partake in a volunteer activity. I was involved in one of these opportunities when I commenced the program and was lucky enough to volunteer at the Mother’s Day Classic a Fun Run which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer research.

Being a part of the Mother’s Day Classic was a fantastic experience. A very early morning start of 5am was how we kicked off the day! As they say no pain no gain, and the early wake up alarm was ultimately worth.
All of the volunteers were given their duties, although they were not complicated to perform, the value of the services provided to the participating runners and event organisers were unbelievable. It was incredible to see how a simple action such offering a glass of water or banana could generate such high level of empathy and the feeling of giving back to the community. All the participants whether running or volunteering, were there for the same cause, to support cancer research and honour those who have battled the disease. The feeling of helping those people to support their cause, the thousands of sincere "thank yous" received, made it a meaningful contribution. I would recommend for this reason to seek involvement with a volunteering opportunity; it can help you understand that there are things in life that are important, for what sacrifices and support should be made, without looking for a monetary return. Volunteering not only provides you a sense of fulfilment but also adds value to your resume and career future.

In a world where concern regarding environmental, social and economic problems is on the rise, companies seek potential employees with a mind open to 360 degrees, they want people who are dedicated to give back to their community, even without the financial motivation. Overall volunteering gives you competitive edge through strengthening your transferable skills.
A volunteering experience enables you to develop and improve the fundamental skill of teamwork, essential in every workplace.  Volunteering at a large scale event means to work with hundreds of people, people that you meet on the day minutes before to start your role. Any nerves or shyness can be left at the door as good communication, problem solving skills and adaptability must be readily adopted, to ensure you are a valuable team member. Graduate recruiters and organisations recognise that volunteering is as credible as paid work and demonstrates admirable personality traits.

Being an international student myself it was great way for me to have the chance to integrate and support the local Sydney community where I’m living. It is a great feeling knowing that my volunteer experience will be advantageous on my resume and in a job interview  

Volunteering is a great way to add value to your success with any job application and can make all the difference to help make you stand out from the pack!

By Marco Poli, current Masters of Commerce student and Job Smart Ambassador at the University of Sydney Business School.

What you need to know about behavioural interview questions

Got an interview coming up or just want to be prepared for when you do? Ace your next interview by understanding and practicing behavioural job interview questions.

Behavioural job interview questions are used to assess your past behaviour to see how you would fit in with the team and organisation that you’re applying for. These questions generally start with the phrases like “tell us about a time when…” or “give us an example of when...”, and can be answered using the CAR model:

Choose an example/event from your past that is relevant to the question asked.

Outline your steps clearly and logically to show how you solved or tackle the situation described in the context above.

State what outcome your actions brought and offers data/statistics if applicable (e.g. raised 20% of the fund by employing xyz actions).

Here are 10 behavioural questions (with a sample answer to the first question to give you a head start). Have a go at answering them yourself!

Question 1. Describe a situation where you had to motivate your team members. What strategies did you use?

Sample answer:
During my time in my previous role, our team had to complete a one-month project in two weeks. We submitted our draft to our supervisor five days before the due date, and he identified some major flaws in our report. In turn it was required that we to re-do half of the work within less than a week before the deadline. Most of us became disheartened and even scared as some of us were on contract and failure to complete the task might hamper our future employment.
I arranged for a group meeting right away and started with asking them about the positive outcomes of our draft, and acknowledging that we could carry them out in such a short time frame. The next step forced us to prioritise, categorising the errors according to the tasks and divided them among us. This time, we reported to our supervisor every day to ensure we were on the right track, and after receiving feedback from our supervisor, we planned for the next day’s tasks.
Not only we submitted and presented the report on the due date but also secured another project with the organisation.

Question 2. Tell me about a time when your group members had disagreements with you regarding an opinion/idea. How did you approach it and solve it?

Question 3. Give me an example where you had to negotiate with a resistant audience at work. How did you persuade him/her?

Question 4. Describe a time when you had to work in a project with a person with whom you had interpersonal conflict. How did you deal with him to complete the project?

Question 5. Tell me about a time when you improved your team’s performance.

Question 6. Give me an example where you had to give someone constructive criticism.

Question 7. Describe a situation when you couldn’t meet deadline.

Question 8. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you deal with it?

Question 9. Describe a situation where you had identified a problem at your work and proposed and implemented a solution for it.

Question 10. Give me an example where you were misunderstood and things got heated. How did you handle yourself and the person in that stressful situation to reach a mutual understanding?

It is always good to prepare a set of answers for these types of behavioural interview questions before you attend the real interview. You can also research the organisation and the job role you are applying for, to prepare your own set of questions and answers. This will enhance your confidence, presentation skill and chance to nail the interview!

About the blogger
Anindita Roy Bannya, first year Master of HRM and IR student at the University of Sydney Business School and Careers Leader with the Careers and Employability Office.

What CEO programs you have participated in and why you loved being a part of it?
I have participated in Peer Mentoring and Career Leaders programs so far, and it was one of the best choices I have made here at USYD so far!! It is the diversity and the depth of the learning experience they offer I love most! Being part of it is like being part of a family who helps me grow professionally as well as personally.

Dream Career? 
Consultancy and Research

Where do you want to be in ten years?
As a  consultant in a renowned Think Tank, an academic, and planning for my own consultancy firm in the distant future.

What CEO service do you highly recommend students to utilise?
Everything that CEO offers is imperative to shaping a student's career progression. Among all, I would recommend students to go for resume review session and one-to-one career session. Additionally, I would suggest students follow CEO's Facebook page and blackboard to keep updated about important career events so that they can leverage the opportunities to prepare themselves for their career.

27 April 2017

Why should you get Job Smart?

Job Smart is an extra-curricular program that is supported by globally recognised organisations and open for all postgraduate students. It is an opportunity for students to build a portfolio of hands-on, work-relevant experiences throughout their whole degrees. We recently spoke to Nominzol Tsogtbaatar, a current student engaged in the Job Smart program, about her experience.

What has been the best thing about Job Smart?
The best thing about Job Smart was the CV/Resume Coaching session, which I found quite useful for my future work experience in Australia. Ever since I’ve applied the recommendations from an expert from Job Smart to my resume, I am more confident that I can find a good job. In addition, the positive comments on my resume were encouraging.

What are some examples of the skills/experience you’ve gained as a result of participating in the program?
I’ve gained volunteering experience, which have given me an understanding on the organisation of events, its structure and the coordination and activities involved, which are skills I can apply to my future endeavors.

How is the program adding to your degree?
I think Master of Commerce students have many great job opportunities in the market. However, it can still be challenging to obtain those opportunities. Job Smart alleviates our struggles and uncertainties in many ways through its activities and programs.

How is Job Smart preparing you for life after university?
After our master’s degree, everyone will be job hunting. The job market is becoming more fierce and complex. It takes a lot of effort to overcome the complexities and meet employers’ criteria. Job Smart provides great advice and helps us be more confident in this competitive environment.

What is the biggest takeaway for you so far?
During a CV consultation session, I met Yvonne – a career consultant, and one of the most ideal people I’ve met since I enrolled in the Business School. During the session, we discussed my concerns and problems with my resume and she offered great solutions for them. She made very valuable comments. After that session, I updated my resume according to her recommendations and contacted her again to make sure I reflected her comments correctly. My meetings with Yvonne provided me a huge surge of relief since I am an international student who is not familiar with Australian employers and the job market.

What would you say to a student considering joining the program?
Job Smart will not take too much of your time and effort. If you make the most out of the program, you will gain a lot of experiences and, more importantly, a better understanding of the job market. I enthusiastically recommend it to students.

Find out more about Job Smart and how to register.

13 April 2017

How to get the most out of the mid-semester break

The semester is flying by and the mid-semester break is already coming up! You’re probably already thinking about all the great things you’re going to do. But if you haven’t, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are five things you can do to get the most out of the mid-sem break:

1. Plan your week so it doesn’t go to waste
The mid-semester break is only a week long, which isn’t very long at all. It’ll go by fast so you’ll want spend some time pencilling in your events and daily plans. My recommendation would be to smash out all your immediate assignments/work at the beginning of the break so you can spend the rest unwinding.

2. Get a head start on your finals preparation
With uni on pause and no work piling up, take advantage of the week to get on top of your studies. Get up to date with all your study notes and start revising content from the semester so far. Future you will be thankful that you’ve already reduced the work load by half, making life so much easier during your final exam study. 

3. Accelerate your career
Do you have a list of opportunities you want to apply for but never got around to doing? Look for experiences that can challenge, develop and upskill you, then apply for them before you get too caught up in the whirlwind of uni life again. You can enact positive change in a community with the Community Placement Program, develop your leadership potential with AIESEC, work in a social enterprise with 40K, and much more.

4. Create healthy habits that will stick
Stop putting off exercise, healthy eating, sleeping well or any other health goals you may have. Pick a habit you want to get into (e.g. getting 8 hours of sleep every night, being active for 30 minutes a day) and stick to it every day this week. It’s all about consistency and before you know it, it’ll become a part of your daily routine.

5. Go on a short getaway
It’s a break after all so make sure you take one! Spend a couple of days away from home with your family or friends to relax – sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. Having some down-time can actually give you the chance to process, reflect and enhance creativity and productivity, so don’t feel guilty about it.
By Tracy Trieu, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School