1 July 2015

Why leadership prevails over your WAM

The moment you sit in your first graduation job interview, your potential employer isn’t looking at your WAM or your academic achievements. They’re looking for an entrepreneurial character to help grow their business. That’s why when you see them clicking their pens or not writing anything down, it’s a cue to move on. Tell them explicitly what makes you different.


Leadership. It is the most employable skill, as leadership experiences can’t be solely studied.

So what exactly is WAM?

Weighted Average Mark; a non-experience based numerical assessment of work ethic assigned to all enrolled students.

To an employer, it can tell them how much of a high-achiever you may be. They wouldn’t know if you’ve crammed content the night before. Or how many all nighters you’ve pulled thus far. Let’s be frank: it’s just a number. Like ATAR. It does not encompass you as a character.

So why leadership?

First impressions count. It gets your foot in the door.  How one presents themself as self-aware through communication differentiates them from the rest of the graduate employment market. They’re looking for people who will make the best fit for their workplace. Someone who can communicate their ideas clearly and confidently.

Unless you’re superhuman, you’re probably not going to start off your first graduate job as the perfect worker. Your employer knows that. That’s why initiative is desirable. They will be asking themselves, “Is this candidate willing to challenge themself and learn new things?” When people see you with initiative, they see you as someone who can take charge and be dependable. Only through a self-development mindset can you experience true professional growth. After all, experience cannot be studied.

Regardless of the field, teamwork is the definitive quality of a desirable employee. It doesn’t matter how good you are on paper. Selflessness is good teamwork. A realisation of collective aspirations beyond one’s self and working to common ends is what employers can’t do without. Think of it as nailing the theoretical components. Only achieving on a theoretical level is not as pleasing as an individual with practical experience.

Harnessing opportunities to ascertain your future pathway remains in and out of the connections you foster and maintain. Building bridges with not only professionals, but also students from diverse backgrounds and experiences canvasses a network for future collaboration and impact. Glue yourself to a suite of possibilities with extensive networks. It’ll land you jobs deemed to be out of reach.

AIESEC: Your Gateway to Leadership
AIESEC is the largest student run organisation in the world, facilitating students with volunteering and internship exchanges in over 125 partnered countries since 1948.

From Kofi Annan (Former Secretary General of the UN) to Neil Janin (Global Director, McKinsey and Co.), participants of the Global Leader program have paved new pathways for communities, businesses and lives around the world.

AIESEC spearheads its members into an immersive environment with developmental space to enhance practical skills in areas such as business development, marketing, finance and human resources. 

So why leadership over WAM?
Employers don’t reduce the company's future to a number. They will find value in your capacity to impact as an innovative leader.

Be prepared the next time you head in for an interview. Loosen your grip on the inky CV. An interviewer seeks experience prepared by the opportunities you seize here and now. All the doors close itself eventually. Initiate the start to your future, work with potentially prominent figures of the world and expand your network.

Good luck.

Solenna Fu
Current student at the University of Sydney and Public Relations Officer, AIESEC Sydney

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