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

11 April 2017

Footbridge Standards at the Hult Prize

Our students continue to make their mark on society, taking on competitions that help make an impact through the power of social enterprises. The Hult Prize is one of these competitions dedicated to launching the next-generation of social entrepreneurs, encouraging teams to work together to help solve the world's biggest issues. Hult Prize Campus Finalists, Footbridge Standards, was one of four teams that represented the University of Sydney across the globe, who pitched their solution that could "restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022". Team leader Bill Chan has recently returned from the San Francisco Regional Finals and has shared some of his experiences throughout the entire journey with us.

The team behind Footbridge Standards: William Zhang - B.Commerce (Liberal Studies),  Bill Chan - B.Commerce/Law, Tom Luo - B.Commerce/Science, Harrison Jin - B.Commerce/Law [left to right]

Why did you get involved in the Hult Prize?

Social enterprises are interestingly different because they take the old entrepreneurship concept of profit mindedness and combine it with the modern perspective of creating social good. When directed correctly, this new way of thinking has the potential to alleviate the largest issues plaguing our global community.

What is your social enterprise about?

Footbridge Standards awards a 'seal of approval' to incentivise businesses to implement impactful initiatives to assist refugees on their journey. We are to refugees what fair trade is to exploited workers.

For businesses, the benefits of a seal of approval is that it recognises their values to their customers, stakeholders and the broader society. Using an assessment criteria developed with the Refugee Council of Australia, we award businesses a seal when they meet our criteria.

We believe that the collective goodwill of businesses has the ability to drive change and that they have the capability to catalyse positive dialogue for refugees.

Briefly tell us how your enterprise idea restores the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022?

A crisis of global magnitude calls on a solution of collective action. Right now there is a huge funding gap between government organisations and refugees. By encouraging and combining the collective goodwill of the private sector, we will be able to bridge the wide funding gap that currently exists.

Additionally, the public sector is inefficient in developing solutions that are sustainable in the long term. We believe that the varied expertise of the private sector means we can find empowering and efficient ways to support every different part of the refugee cycle. For example, Starbucks is pledging to hire 10,000 refugees and Ikea has built award winning housing units for refugees on the border. At Footbridge Standards we envision that aligned initiatives to assist the global community like these will become the norm.

Tell us about your Hult Prize journey and the experience of being able to present your idea abroad?

We are a B2B business and the success of it required us being able to accommodate the needs and wants of those businesses. That is why we spent a majority of time contacting and working with marketing and CSR executives to develop our business model. As a first year team, the professionalism and business acumen required made it an incredibly nerve racking experience at first. However, by putting ourselves out there and talking with businesses, we improved dramatically on an exponential learning. Now we are in discussions with Commonwealth Bank about potentially co-creating the idea.

All this was in preparation to present in San Francisco with flights and accommodation all covered for. Going to a foreign country, representing your university and presenting in front of judges who were all experts in their field was an unimaginable experience. However, what takes the cake is being able to hear all the powerful ideas out there and having the opportunity to meet the good willed and passionate people driving those ideas.

In the end despite months of hard work, late nights and long discussions, we did not win regionals. Even though the result was disappointing, we had many judges and students express praise for our idea. This support reaffirms that we have a working concept and we need to continue working harder to refine our social enterprise. We are now working with Sydney Genesis to build our idea over the next 12 months and we are very much excited about the road ahead.

What would you say to those interested in competing in the Hult Prize in the future?

If you win, you are given the resources to see your idea come to fruition and will have the experience of a lifetime. If you don't win, you hear revolutionary ideas that will change the world, become friends with the minds driving them and pick up essential business skills every step of the way. There is every reason to seize this opportunity.

On a more personal point, doing competitions like the Hult Prize allows you to create lifelong friendships. What I most respected about my team is that despite all of this we were also each other’s closest support network. What I realise now is that friends who have the humility and respect to work with each other at their worst are friends worth keeping for life.

How do you think that opportunities like the Hult Prize add to your experience studying at the Business School?

You are literally starting up a new business from scratch so you will know what it's like to work in all areas of a business. You will apply all the different skills that you have learned from within the classroom such as determining the breakeven point, developing a new product and projecting growth. The idea of having to apply all of this knowledge in real life may be daunting but you are not alone as a strong support network of mentors will ensure that your skills are applied correctly.

For me, I have wanted to work in a front office role of a business. The experience to go out, talk to clients from variegated business and work closely with them to create solutions aligned with their business goals really affirmed what I wanted in a career. On the other hand, you may find that your preconceptions of your career path is misguided but either way it will be one step closer to where your true passion lies.

Bill Chan
Current Bachelor of Commerce/Laws student at the University of Sydney.

31 March 2017

Top 10 tips to secure a graduate placement

It’s peak graduate season, and you are probably wondering how you’re going to secure a spot in the perfect graduate program. In case you missed our Insider Tips event, we asked our recent graduates to share their top tips on getting a placement after you graduate.

Christine Ma, ANZ Early Professional Seller (EPS) Hub Manager
IBM Digital Business Group

1. Start applying early: use GradConnection to find out the application open/close dates (mid year intakes are available at some companies) and start drafting your application early so that you have plenty of time to review and refine.

2. Leverage the Business School’s Careers and Employability Office: During uni, I would make time between my scheduled classes to attend their careers workshops, professional networking events and ask for resume feedback.

3. Consider what is important to you: There is an abundance of choice when it comes to graduate programs. You need to be able to clearly articulate why you want to work for that particular company or industry, not just what you will get from the company, but also how you believe you can add value.

4. Do your research and practice: I used IBM's Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube channel and website to learn more about the company's values and strategy. This gave me a lot of knowledge which I could use to practice answering interview questions. Also, prepare questions which you can ask the interviewer e.g. what the interviewer enjoys about working at the company, or what the culture is like.

5. Once you've secured your role...Congratulations! Make the most of the learning and networking opportunities in your graduate program. As they say: success is a journey, not a destination, so expect to work hard and eventually good things will come. 

Thomas Holmstrom, Consultant 
Financial Services, EY

1. Practice psychometric testing as much as possible. Psychometric testing is always required prior to any phone conversation or in-person interview, and is where the highest proportion of candidates are culled. So being familiar with all the different forms of psychometric testing is vital. 

Two of my favourites where CEB Global and Grad Tests.

2. Utilise the STAR technique in one-on-one interviews when describing an experience that demonstrates a value that is well regarded by the firm. However, ensure that you can also relate the experience specifically to a concept/issue that the division you are applying to is involved with, e.g. Investment Bank: Shown interest in financial markets and investing via being involved with University Competitions whereby you demonstrated collaboration with team members and collective decision making.

3. Research the company that you are applying for. Each other candidate will know the corporate structure and the business’ product/services. Focus on the industry trends, corporate strategy, main competitors, what differentiates the company from its competitors and the values by which the organisation defines its culture.

4. Practice interviewing with a family member or friend, without knowing any of the questions beforehand. Not practicing will leave you unable to articulate your answers clearly and find it difficult to adapt to different interview styles.

5. Relax. If you have prepared thoroughly, become used to interviewing, know the company inside and out, there is no reason to stress or worry as you’ve done the best you can.

By the Careers and Employability Office, at the University of Sydney Business School.

15 March 2017

Resume season

As I near the end of my degree the terrifying season of resume writing and interviews dawns upon me. Time to portray oneself as a level headed, career oriented, all around great person who knows exactly where they want to go in life and what company they were born to join (any that will have me really).

I had an interview recently - not even for a job - for work experience, but the anxiety for this little 14 and a half-minute ‘coffee sit down’ was overwhelming. "time to be a charming adult I thought. Surely one can only get better at this show but I am quite late to the party. I have gone through my degree going on holidays in the summer- rather than developing my networking skills or doing impressive internships- but after this interview I had a surge of panic driven action.

I had ambitions to remake my online self. Make a website. Market myself so no one could resist me. But is that real? Is that really what makes someone want to hire you, your perfect profile? 

More often than not - I scoff at perfection. I prefer bloggers, comedians and friends to show their imperfection to the world. I have always been attracted to over sharers- people who own themselves and unashamedly share their biggest lows as well as their biggest achievements. I had two friends in school that really showed me the beauty of just telling it how it is and hoping at least some people relate or laugh. As a self- conscious incredibly awkward teen I needed to learn from them and I think I still need to learn from them.

Anyway back to the construction of our perfect online resumes - where you have to be quirky yet professional and have experience even though you are applying for an entry-level job. This is a letter to all the HR managers to look for the imperfect, as they are often the best sorts. I have only one story in support of this assertion. My friend worked with one man that undoubtedly had a great resume, was good at what he did, said all the right things in the interviews but was an absolute nightmare to work with. So look for the rough around the edges and all around real people who may not have the most stellar resume but are eager to learn, and grow.

And to all the students who think they are probably not qualified enough, or perfect enough- for the role. Show the HR manager that you have down your research about the work of the company and the industry, but also show some of your REAL self- show your cracks but assure them that you are ready and able to learn.

By Cara Mayne, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School and Network of Women Events Director.

14 March 2017

Making the most of summer

Our students have been far and wide over the break. They have been immersing themselves in new environments and undertaking work placements to gain real-world experience before they graduate. Current students who have been involved in placements over the summer share their experiences, and how they made the most out of their break.

Natalie Kutcher
Bachelor of Commerce student
Participant in the Shanghai Business Immersion program

Why did you want to participate in Shanghai Business Immersion program?
I wanted to participate in the IPP program for two reasons. First, I believe employers are increasingly looking for employees who can demonstrate cultural awareness and adaptability working in teams with people from different backgrounds. Second, I saw IPP as an excellent way to identify my professional interests and help decide what career I might like to pursue after completing my studies.

Where did you undertake your placement?
The African Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai city, China.

What was the best part of your time there?
The best part of my stay in Shanghai was getting to experience living in the city like a local. I loved shopping at the supermarkets, catching the metro and eating at local restaurants.

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience?
Open-mindedness. I learned how to better understand how people from different cultures think, and also learned the importance of trying to look at the world through other people’s eyes.

Do you have any advice for someone considering the Shanghai Business Immersion program?
Go for it! Even if you are placed in a role that lies outside of your area of expertise, approach the internship with an open mind. It can never hurt to expand your skill-set in new areas, and it will make you a more all-rounded person.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
I would love to backpack across Europe, spending a few weeks in each country. I love learning about new cultures and languages, and trying different traditional foods.

Hao Fu
Bachelor of Commerce student
Participant in the China Industry Placement Program

Why did you want to participate in the Industry Placement Program?
The program is a good start for my career, the business school offers a great platform for us to connect with organisations. Through the program, I could have more opportunities to work in large organisations such as the Big Four, which was relatively harder if I applied for the internship by myself. Furthermore, I could earn valuable credits during my placement.

Where did you undertake your placement?
China/Beijing, PwC

What was the best part of your time there?
I had built connections with one senior manager and one manger, and a reference letter was provided upon termination of the placement.

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience? 
I learnt how to perform service in a stringent business manner in China context (the advantage of working in large organisations), which had never been learnt in my previous internships and part-time jobs.

Do you have any advice for someone considering the Industry Placement Program?
Do the Industry Placement program, it is  an amazing program that the Business School offers, so seize this opportunity. For Chinese students, the China program enables you to network with Chinese organisations. Further, you could reunite with you family during Spring Festival while earning credits on your placement, which is another big advantage of China Placement Program.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?
Hokkaido, Japan

Anna Bezuglova
Bachelor of Commerce student 
Participant in the Los Angeles Industry Placement Program

Why did you want to participate in the Industry Placement Program? 
Opportunities to work full-time are limited over the course of a degree – yet the competitive job market demands graduates who are experienced in their desired industry and expect them to understand how it works. The IPP was perfect for differentiating my application, while also allowing me to gain practical insight into the industry I hope to one day work – without the big responsibility that comes with landing a 2-year graduate role! 

Where did you undertake your placement?
Los Angeles, at M&C Saatchi Santa Monica
Studying at UCLA

What was the best part of your time there? 
It’s difficult in high school and university to gain an accurate representation of what the reality of full-time work in an industry is like. After this experience, I am so much more excited about getting into the workforce as there are endless possibilities for those who seek it. I’ve also been able to work amongst the best in the industry – and have gained mentors and inspirational figures that I hope to one day emulate in my own career. 

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience? 
I now understand the value of throwing yourself at challenges or situations that absolutely frighten you. Throughout my placement, I was faced with what seemed like insurmountable tasks – but my perception often caused me to think I wasn’t capable – in reality, I surprised myself with just how capable I can be! Being nervous or feeling inferior is a completely natural feeling, embracing it rather than running away from it is the best thing we can do for our professional and personal growth. 

Do you have any advice for someone considering the Industry Placement Program? 
Don’t hesitate, just do it! The program was transformative for me, and if you’re willing to work hard, appreciate a foreign culture, and make friends with people from another country, then it will be the same for you! It’s an invaluable experience that will stay with you forever and is likely to shape the course of your career, as it has for me and many of my peers. 

This is the next level in your education – having the opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom to a workplace (moreover, a foreign workplace!) in the most insightful experience you can have during your tertiary education journey. If you’re hungry to learn, ready to be challenged and excited by the world – please, please, please apply! 

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be? 
I fell in love with NYC when I was able to visit on a long weekend just recently – there’s something about how busy and competitive it is that has ignited my desire to work in that environment one day. I’ll be applying for jobs there for when I graduate next year!

Rochelle Sharpe
Bachelor of Commerce student
Participant in the local Industry Placement Program

Why did you want to participate in the Industry Placement Program?
I wanted to develop my professional skillset, apply the theory I have learnt in lectures and genuinely test myself in a commercial environment.

Where did you undertake your placement?
I was within the Sales department at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare locally in Sydney. Pfizer manufactures brands that most of us know including ChapStick, Centrum, Advil, Dimetapp, Robitussin and Caltrate. You may have even seen some of Pfizer’s advertisements currently running! 

What was the best part of your time there?
I was able to work on realistic projects and genuinely make a difference within Pfizer. For example, I worked on the ROI analysis of a recent above the line marketing campaign for a new product and presented this to the executive leadership team. I wasn’t just an intern, rather they treated me like any other employee within the organisation. Meeting great people to work with, networking and building my professional and personal skillset was fantastic. 

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience? 
No matter what industry you eventually work in, or what job you decide to take culture will always be one of the most important aspects of where you work. Traditionally, students seeking employment during internships or graduate programs always ask questions about the type of projects they will be undertaking, opportunities and benefits the organisation offers. 

These are very important, however to put this into perspective most of us will be spending at least 40+ hours a week at work, and to be working in a firm where your values and ways of working don’t click it can be extremely hard to perform at your best. 

For some people it’s the gut feeling that they feel like it’s the right place for them, for others they have to do a little bit of research to truly feel like they’ve made the right choice. Asking yourself questions such as 
  • Do I prefer a hands off or hands on (team bonding) approach to culture? 
  • Hierarchical rigidness – can you openly talk to directors and partners when you are a junior? 
  • Do they support your extra-curricular activities? Such as playing sport outside of work, or supporting your volunteer position.
Even if you do your research and think that an organisation is perfect, you can get it wrong. However, take this as a learning experience and you will be able to more clearly understand what type of culture you prefer working in. 

Do you have any advice for someone considering the Industry Placement Program? 
As Nike or Shia LaBeouf declares – Just Do It! 

Putting in a day or two for the application and testing is definitely worth the effort. Not only do you gain credit for your university studies, but you also gain insight into industries you would like to work for in the future and genuinely develop your professional skillset. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be? 
As I love to ski, anywhere with good snow and I’ll be there. However, if you had to make me choose I’d love to go to Sweden and see the northern lights.

13 March 2017

Exploring Beijing and joining PwC the big family

It is exciting enough to work at one of the Big Four Banks as an accounting student, but four months ago I was lucky to be accepted into the China Industry Placement Program (IPP) to intern at PwC Beijing! This is where my journey began. 

At PwC office
Before undertaking my placement people would tell me “you’ll work more than 100 hours every week as an auditor, during the year end in China when annual auditing commences.” Although this might be true for some people, it wasn’t for me. 

My placement saw me working on a project where we performed annual auditing for the Agricultural Bank of China, one of the Big Five Banks there. When ‘The Big Four’ was now ‘The Big Five’, I thought there would be no time for me even to sleep. However, it turned out I was wrong. As interns we were not required to work overtime, we followed normal working schedule from 9 am to 6 pm. This meant I had time to explore Beijing, the capital of China. 

With people everywhere, winter in Beijing is never cold, even though the temperature is less than zero degrees. The city still keeps its solemn veil when you are approaching the Forbidden City. I was shocked by these fabulous traditional palaces, which gave you the most real experience of ancient China. During my visit to the Forbidden City, I stood on top of Tian’anmen and it felt like I could communicate across-time with ancient emperors, feeling how they would have looking out over this great country, the honour, the power, the pride…

PwC ABC team
Nevertheless, working was still the main focus during my IPP. Eight-hour-long working days did not necessarily mean that you have more free time to relax. Instead, it meant that you had to deal with same amount of work load in shorter amount of time. This meant working more effectively and efficiently. With novice experience in Multinational Corporation, the fast approaching deadlines were something I had to get used to in my first few days. One of my projects was to data collection towards ‘deposits with central banks’ account, thereby I had to communicate with clients from hundreds of branches across China. I could still feel how exhausted I was after having made more than 150 phone calls in one day. Interestingly, when I talked to clients with strong accents, I began to understand how native English speakers felt when they talked to me. However, language is to help people communicate, there is no standard Mandarin or English - right? 

Apart from intensive working load, I also received great friendships and colleagueship’s in PwC, which made me feel at home. I guess this is part of the reason why PwC is one of the leading firms in the world, because teamwork is being fostered everywhere. With no vicious competition but reciprocal collaboration, colleagues are more like friends, leading to an energetic team and further a thriving business as a whole.

Lastly, the best thing about China IPP for Chinese students is that you have the opportunity to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year with your family. And for me as an intern, I also got many red packets from my colleagues, which is just another bonus of joining PwC the big family.

Red packets

By Hao Fu, current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the Industry Placement Program.