Friday, 20 October 2017

How To Prepare For Life Post-Graduation

University of Sydney graduates have been named the most employable in Australia for the third year running and in the top 5 globally, according to the 2018 QS Graduate Employability Rankings. What is the special ingredient that makes USYD students so special? Is it education, hard work or connections? Or maybe a little bit of everything? MoM looks at how students transition from the classroom to the boardroom with this simple how to guide.

Photo: Lise Lehto, Master of Marketing Graduate October, 2017.

According to the Australian government’s Job Outlook report (2014-2019), the Advertising and Marketing sector is expected to increase its demand for qualified professionals by over twenty percent. This presents an opportunity for graduates to compete with an advantage for leadership roles in the industry. But in a highly saturated industry, the competition calls for a serious game plan.

The University of Sydney’s Master of Marketing program provides a practical learning experience, in a ‘real business’ context, to equip its graduates with the critical-thinking skills to advance their careers. The high quality professional experience gained gives graduates the differential advantage they need to stand out. But do graduates know how to play on their assets and sell themselves to an employer?

I visited The Careers and Student Experience Lounge in the Abercrombie Business School last week and spoke with an incredible career advisor, Yvonne Coburn, who gave me some great career advice. Yvonne is a Senior Executive with over 25 years of National and International experience in top level Executive Search Assignments and Leadership Consulting across a broad cross section of industries. And lucky for the University of Sydney, she also volunteers to coach students about their career plan.

Here are some of the tips that Yvonne gave me to help me stand out from the crowd.

Create a personal career map. 

This first step is probably the most difficult thing to do because you really need to sit down and work out what type of role you want and in what industry. Most people kind of just fall into jobs and then realise half-way through their career that they are no longer enjoying what they do. You can avoid that early on by creating a career map.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • What type of role do you want?
  • What kind of organisation would you like to work for. Is it a multinational or a startup?
  • How fast do you want your career progression to be?
  • Who do you know from your network that can give you a referral?
  • What skills do you have for the job and which do you need to acquire?
  • Do you have, need or want international experience?
Image source: University of Leicester.

Complete a SWOT analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, and the industry you want to work in. 

Yes, this marketing framework can be used to help you get a job. First do an internal analysis and write down all your strengths; all your skills whether they are tangible or intangible, your weaknesses and areas that need development. Next, look externally to the industry or sector you’d like to work it and identify and opportunities. Jump on Euromonitor or IbisWorld while you still have access through The University of Sydney Library Portal. Finally, identify any threats. These include the difficulties of breaking into the industry, also any resources that are lacking or jobs and sectors that are in danger of being made redundant due to technology.

Image source: ArtTech.

Find a mentor. 

This is probably the best advice yet. Find someone who has had success in a career path similar to the one you want to follow. You can ask someone you know or reach out to them on LinkedIn. The Sydney Marketing Society applications for mentors open next May for students who have just joined the program. The AMI also has paid opportunities to be paired with a mentor, but places are limited so you have to get in quick. 

For women, Yvonne was telling me about this event called Mentor Walks, a monthly meetup that connects emerging female leaders with a range of senior women from a diverse professional community. Women get together to walk and talk, discuss their challenges, successes, aspirations, and lessons learned. The next Mentor Walk  in Sydney is on the 27th of October.

Image source: Mentor Walks.

Apply to graduate recruitment programs. 

This one may seem like a no-brainer but if I’m being honest here, I always thought that graduate programs were mainly for undergrads. Turns out I’m wrong! Yvonne assured me that many of the companies who offer graduate programs offer placements for post-graduate students as well. So if you get the chance, pop into the Careers and Student Experience Lounge and ask for a copy of Australia’s Top 100 Graduate Employers for 2017 or have a look online. Likewise the University of Sydney’s official Marketing society SMS have many corporate sponsors who offer opportunities that don’t have the same volume of applications as LinkedIn or job sites.

Image source: Alyce Brierley

Revise your cover letter and CV, and brush up your interview skills. 

Finally, the most important thing is your CV. This is what gets you noticed, so you want to be absolutely certain that you stand out for the right reasons. In my last employment related blog, ‘5 Reasons Why Your Job Hunt Needs A Marketing Strategy’ I wrote about the benefits of using online tools like Canva’s Resume templates to help bring an element of design to your CV. Design is just one way to help you stand out from the crowd but the content is what’s going to sell you to employers.

The Careers and Student Experience Lounge is open Monday – Friday, 12-3pm (teaching weeks only) Basement Level, Abercrombie Building. Visit them to receive coaching on your resume and cover letters and learn about all of the online careers resources dedicated to Business School students. Alternatively you can email them at 

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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