Lessons learned from BEL Careers Day

Bachelor of Business Management / Communication student, Jake Gitsham, shares his key learnings from BEL Careers Day, 2022.

Bachelor of Business Management / Communication student, Jake Gitsham
Bachelor of Business Management / Communication student, Jake Gitsham

Career development events are invaluable to students – a necessity in laying the foundations of your career. The key takeaway that all students should hear, myself included, is that developing a career-ready mindset doesn’t occur overnight. It’s a journey that requires cultivation and dedication. I would say it’s like painting a canvas, but it’s important to remember that not only are you the painter, you’re also the painting. You can begin this journey through taking advantage of the events and opportunities on offer to Business, Economics and Law (BEL) students, which are a great way to explore career options and develop your employability while at university.

BEL Careers and Employability hosted their annual BEL Careers Day on 27 September 2022, with the aim of helping students develop their employability and prepare for life in the industry. With the key theme being ‘Explore, Develop, Succeed’, the day provided a variety of sessions that expanded on these stages of the career journey. The panels and workshops hosted by industry specialists, and the numerous networking opportunities throughout the day, equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed to develop a career-ready mindset.

Resilience is an asset

The tone of the day was set with keynote speaker Sonja Basson, Senior Manager at Deloitte, who shared her story of resilience. Within your career and life, you’ll undoubtedly encounter roadblocks and setbacks. Sonja taught me that only through these kinds of experiences can we learn how to develop a resilient mindset.

Resilience is achieved by overcoming self-limiting beliefs and developing inner strength that can help you tackle daily challenges. It also takes more than just self-reflection; it takes initiative to hone this way of thinking.

Sonja summarised it succinctly: “Nobody likes leaving their comfort zone but sometimes success is just beyond what you can manage at the time; learn to trust the journey.”

Speaker presenting at BEL careers day

A taste of the industry

BEL Careers Day incorporated a one-hour internship with KPMG. The session provided me with a taster of the business challenges a consultant undertakes. I worked in a team with other students to pitch a solution that addressed a key issue facing the organisation. The session provided us with an insight of what to expect in a professional work setting, all while working on a time-sensitive, team-based problem – all skills required to develop a career-ready mindset. The experience brought to life what it means to ‘be learning by doing’.

While most internships extend for weeks, the lessons I learnt in one hour were both valuable and insightful, and like they say, 'any experience is good experience'. The session also highlighted the numerous work experience opportunities available through BEL Careers and Employability, such as the Student Work Experience Program (SWEP) and Work-integrated Learning (WIL) courses, just to name a few.

KMPG speaker at BEL Careers Day

You get out what you put in

For me, the Careers Zone was one of the main highlights of the day. I learned firsthand about experiences of industry professionals in different disciplines. From discussions with Big 4 organisations like Deloitte and EY, to recruitment opportunities with analysts from FDM, the Careers Zone gave me a rounded view of the working environment I hope to enter.

Better yet, the Careers Zone allowed me to form professional connections with representatives from a variety of organisations and get tips on how to succeed in their recruitment processes. I was also able to learn about their digital implementation projects, a growing area which I’m interested in. 

Tricks of the trade

Being a fourth-year student, with graduation on the horizon, the recruiters’ panel provided insider tips to help me prepare for the upcoming recruitment season.

There was advice on how to spruce up your resume and tailor a cover letter, but what stood out to me was how the pandemic reshaped how the world does business. These changes extend to the interview process that soon-to-be graduates, like myself, will go through.

Whether you’re face to face or behind a screen, it’s important to hit that balance of creating a good first impression while letting the real you shine through. Showing genuine enthusiasm for both the work of the company and its culture places you in an optimal position to nail that interview. It’s important to remember that while you are being interviewed by a company, you are also interviewing them – it’s a two-way street. So, when they ask if you have any questions, make sure you ask one! Whether it’s concerning the day-to-day duties of a role or the indicators of success at the company, no question is too general or too specific.

For me, the most surprising tips of the session were about how to ace psychometric testing, a common first step in the recruitment process for large organisations. These tests are designed to evaluate a candidate’s cognitive capability and personality, suited to a particular role. The key takeaway is 'practice makes progress'.

EY Senior Campus Recruiter, Georgia Fry, detailed: “Much like university, you have to study and practice to succeed in this part of the recruitment process, this can include taking practice tests online and even learning from your mistakes from previous psychometric testing.”

BEL careers day staff sharing tips with students

Patience and persistence

The session that delivered the most important lesson for me was the success stories shared by alumni during the ‘What I wish I knew’ panel.

PwC Corporate Tax Consultant, William Ambrose, and Legal Advocate, Lina Zarta, shared their different experiences around securing graduate jobs and settling into their respective industries. They both shared a common lesson about patience and persistence I believe all students should hear:

 “Don’t be afraid of failure, it helps ground you and see challenges from a new perspective,” said Mr Ambrose.

 “Make sure you see things through. Being an international student, it was a culture shock coming to Australia. While the road ahead is long, it’s important you stay committed,” Miss Zarta added.

These alumni experiences echoed Sonja’s message about developing resilience through change, the importance of being open to new challenges and experiences, and learning from your failures. Most importantly, it highlighted the age old saying that 'if you fail, try again'.

Networking session at BEL Careers Day

University is what you make of it

With new lessons learned, BEL Careers Day ended with an opportunity to network and build new industry connections. It was a great opportunity to chat to professionals and delve deeper on the key themes of the day.

At UQ, especially in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, we’re extremely fortunate to have many opportunities to network with industry and make connections with people who can help us start building our careers before we’ve even graduated.

The final lesson I learned at BEL Careers Day is that having a career-ready mindset takes both initiative and reflection – knowing that I’ll only get out what I put in. From building your professional network to developing new skills and perspectives, it’s important to seize these opportunities while you can.

Interested in future career and professional development events?

Events are run throughout the year to help you explore career options and gain exposure to leading professionals. Check in with the website regularly to find the next event that is right for you.

Last updated:
2 November 2022