Employers looking for graduates with hands-on experience
A positive attitude and strong self-motivation may be the key to securing a position in your industry of choice upon graduating, experts say.
Con Moraitis, a careers consultant and Acting Manager for the Career Development and Employment office at RMIT, says employers are increasingly looking for “employability skills” over academic excellence. That is, the ability to effectively communicate, work in teams, make decisions and participate in critical problem solving.
“These are skills that are often developed through work and other life experiences,” says Moraitis. “Employers want people who are enthusiastic: people who have gone out and gotten a part-time job, or undertaken experience in their field. That’s why we encourage students to get involved, obtain experience in their field [and] do some volunteer work outside of university.”
Although purely technical and vocational courses may provide hands-on experience, Moraitis explains it is the amalgamation of study and work practices that truly allow individuals to acquire a more holistic skill set for the workforce.
Zoe Beer, a second-year media and communications student, says industry-based experience has become integral in preparing herself for her future career.
“It seems to be almost more important to prospective employers than your university degree nowadays,” she said.
Universities Australia announced in February a joint initiative with business groups to advance graduate employability through vocational workplace training. The initiative aims to facilitate work placements, mentoring programs and internships to fill the void between classroom-based learning and the industry.
The RMIT University Careers Fair, taking place tomorrow, is designed for students to consider and plan their career paths. Students will be provided with the opportunity to network and familiarise themselves with available graduate training programs and internships across several industries.
Rhys Cranney, a peer career assistant at RMIT and student of international business, says attending these events are the key to preparing for your career after university—regardless of whether you are in first, second or third year.
“It’s a chance to connect with employers and find out what they want. [From higher education] you’ll finish with a degree, but you need to start getting ready for actual employment,” he said.
However, some students may be unsure about whether their degree is the right match for them, let alone pursuing a career in that adjoining field. Moraitis advises students who are apprehensive about their course or their future career to simply sit down and explore what their interest areas are.
“Start exploring your interests early, rather than leaving it until the end. Exploration is critical for finding out where you want to go and where you want your course to take you.”