8 March 2017

Careers and Employability – 10 years in review, where are we now?

This year the Careers and Employability Office (CEO) turns 10, to celebrate we caught up with the Director of Careers Services, Sarah Fletcher - who has been there since the beginning. Hear her 10 years in review and the evolution of the CEO, more importantly we get down to business and ask for her top ten tips to nail an interview! 

How long have you been working with the CEO, in that time how have you seen the team grow?

I’ve been working at the Business School for 10 years (now I’m showing my age!)
10 years ago the CEO started out as a team of 3, we are now 12!

We were the first Business School in Australia to have a dedicated career service for all students – both undergraduate and postgraduate – now most Schools or Business faculties have some dedicated support.

Tell us about the first CEO event and evolution of the CEO programs/services?

Our first student event was an Internship Fair, it was also one of our first successes in showcasing our students to employers. Feedback from students at the time told us they were interested in learning about the corporate and social responsibility initiatives of employers and the fair allowed employers to showcase their sustainability efforts. It was also paperless! No flyers or paper handouts, all material was displayed on laptops and screens.

Over the course of 10 years we have seen how important it is for students to have some kind of work experience (paid or voluntary regardless of where) in order for them to stand out in the pack. As a result we introduced the Industry Placement Program in 2010 with 5 students heading off to do work experience at CBA, Deloitte, KPMG and EY. We now have around 300 students per year heading into placements in Sydney, Canberra, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing, Washington DC, LA and Santiago!

We are constantly speaking with our employer partners so that we can work with our students in best equipping them for graduate recruitment and success in the workforce. We’ve done this by supporting and encouraging students to take on leadership roles and opportunities in programs such as Peer Mentoring, Alumni Mentoring and in Clubs and Societies. There is no better way to demonstrate the leader you want to be than by taking part in these types of programs.

What excites you about being the Director of Career Services within the CEO?

Seeing students grow and develop is probably the most rewarding part of my job. Everyone in the CEO team is committed to supporting the student experience. We all have the same goal that drives us – supporting students to develop their employability and reach their potential.

Another aspect that I enjoy is working with a range of employers across diverse industries – from startups to investment banks. I get to really understand the future of work.

We’re also now moving into the digital space which is exciting! Our Blackboard resources have never been more visual and aligned to what students tell us they want to know. Our Facebook group CEO@Sydney has close to 2 thousand followers, it is a fun and engaging way of communicating directly with students.

I also enjoy the diversity in working for the CEO – two days never seem the same (hence why I’ve been here so long!) 

Top ten do’s and don’ts for an interview?

1. do your research and be prepared.

2. do take notes into an interview if you get nervous. You probably won’t need them but knowing they are there will be security. You may want to ask the interviewer if it is ok, or let them know you have notes with you when you sit down (shows you are prepared, see above).

3. do make sure you have a strong handshake and good eye contact with all interviewers as this demonstrates your non-verbal communication.

4. do turn off your phone – don’t put it on silent completely turn it off. A buzzing phone will distract everyone.

5. do smile! Smiling is infectious and will make everyone relax, most importantly you!

6. don’t be late. This should always be number 1. Do a trial run on the public transport and make sure you are around 10 minutes early.

7. and don’t be too early. See above for the right balance.

8. don’t wing it. No matter how good you think you are on the ‘fly’ people who are interviewing you will expect you to have done some preparation. Believe me it shows when you haven’t.

9. don’t be too familiar. Be respectful and polite. The interviewer is not your friend they are your future employer.

10. don’t be too nervous! This is a hard one as you can’t always help it! Also, a few nerves are good as it shows that you really want the role. Make sure you are prepared and your nerves should subside (see #3).

By Sarah Fletcher
, Director Careers Services - Careers and Employability Office, at the University of Sydney Business School.

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