The top 5 tips I learnt to get career-ready at BEL Careers Day

Kate Green sitting reading under a tree at UQ


Thank you to Kate Green, Bachelor of Economics/Arts student, for sharing her top takeaways from this year's BEL Careers Day.


1. Always be learning widely and deeply

BEL Careers Day 2021 kicked off with an enlightening presentation from entrepreneur, multi-award-winner, and UQ alumna, Cissy Ma. Arriving in Australia with only a few hundred dollars in savings, Cissy has kicked some pretty big goals since her time at UQ. She built her corporate career at Queensland Treasury, and is now running her own consulting business, alongside being a founding activator of SheEO Australia.

Cissy Ma
Cissy Ma talks about the value of volunteering at BEL Careers Day 2021

Her secret to success? Dedication and hard work of course, but she also attributes her success to learning widely and deeply. Study is just one source of learning – volunteering and working are also important experiences to grow our knowledge and capabilities. For many of us that often struggle to balance work with study, it was reassuring to hear that we aren’t behind.

Just as work is also important, so too is giving back to the community. Volunteers are needed in so many facets of our lives, and volunteering can help fuel our growth as individuals too! Cissy believes eternally learning through these three experiences has shaped her life into something great, and it’s something that anyone can do.

Discover opportunities to gain experience outside of the classroom.

2. Networking builds confidence

As a prelude to the discussion with the UQ Student Society Executives Panel, we learnt that over 75% of jobs are filled through networking, which to me seemed staggering! Thankfully, the panel was loaded with advice on how to boost your network and make genuine connections, all while figuring out which society is your best fit.

4 panel speakers on stage in Advanced Engineering Building UQ
UQ Student Society Executives panel discuss networking at 2021 BEL Careers Day

There are so many ways you can build your network – from attending events, reaching out to professionals, or even running for a position in your favourite club. Putting yourself out there has so many benefits – networking can not only build your professional network, but also introduce you to new friends and like-minded students whilst building your confidence! It can be difficult to throw ourselves in the deep end and connect with strangers, but the benefits are clearly worth it.

Find which UQ student society is right for you and start building your network!

3. First impressions start on paper

When learning how to properly pitch myself to a potential employer, I learnt that your first impression actually starts at an employer’s first glance at your resume and cover letter. From the layout, to word choice – the details matter, and we mustn’t fall into those common mistakes of listing an unprofessional email or addressing your cover letter to the wrong organisation! Most importantly, however, I learnt that the key to building your best resume and cover letter is providing concise examples of your skills and capabilities, and how they can be transferred to the job.

woman's hand, writing in pen with coffee and laptop
Tailoring your application to show your value to the organisation. Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

What matters most is demonstrating how your experiences and expertise can be of value to the organisation. Of course, since this depends on the company, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it – so tailoring your applications is essential!

You can attend a BEL Careers Study group to improve your job application writing skills. Learn more about tailoring your job application.

4. In an interview, genuine interest matters

So you’ve polished your resume and cover letter, how do you put your best foot forward in an interview? According to the recruitment experts on the Industry Recruiters Panel, showing your personality and showing you’ve done your research, are two essential ingredients for a successful interview.

Young woman at table being interviewed
Do your research and show your interest at interview. Photo by Christina on Unsplash.

You’ve landed the interview, so the interviewer knows you have the qualifications to do the job. The interview is really about getting to know you as a person, and if you are someone they perceive to be a good fit for the company. Next time you find yourself sitting in the interview chair, make sure you can show you’ve done your homework. Showcase that you’re passionate about the company’s activities.

5. Setting objectives is key to kicking project goals

Both at work and during my studies, having the ability to work effectively and efficiently, particularly within teams, is vital. The UQ Ventures workshop on agile project management provided practical tools to kick project goals. My top takeaway was learning how to define your OKR – objectives and key results, followed by breaking down the project into more manageable portions.

looking down on table of diverse young hands with laptops
Project management techniques help with group work. Photo by Louise Viallesoubranne on Unsplash

In agile terms, a project can be divided into ‘stories’ (key goals) to be done in ‘sprints’ (time periods), which lays out what we hope to achieve, and when. Assigning these tasks to ‘owners’ and ‘supporters’ builds a strong framework for people to get help when they need it and keeps the team on track.

Applying this to uni assessments too, can help you stay on top of your work and don’t fall victim to the burnout that many of us experience! Working with others can at times be quite challenging, but with these frameworks on collaboration, organisation, and time management, I know I can achieve big things in a team.

Final thoughts

When we find ourselves on the job search, it’s our connections, experience, skills and capabilities that we have developed throughout our time at uni, which will heavily contribute to our successes. It’s never too early to start developing your employability, so make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities and support available to you as a UQ student to prepare yourself for life as a graduate.


Follow UQ BEL Careers and Employability on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest career-building opportunities!

Last updated:
19 October 2021