Careers blog: Capitalising on your investment
18 July 2018
Peter Burnham, Careers Coach at WBS, discusses how you can capitalise on your MSc investment.
Top international companies don’t want to hire you to do basic, menial tasks for the next decade without developing. They want to hire you as someone who will progress to leadership positions in their company, bring fresh ideas and perspectives to solve challenging problems in the industry, and be able to work effectively in teams with people from all over the world. Of course, you’ll have to learn the basics first but one thing is for sure: all top graduate employers globally, from Alibaba to WPP, are looking for graduates with more than just a strong academic record.
Whether you want to be a strategy consultant, brand manager, data analyst, or accountant, you will need to demonstrate strong:
- Decision-making ability
- Ability to work under pressure
- Commercial awareness
- Genuine interest in the role/industry
Proactively pursuing activities that will boost these skills during your degree will help you to secure the job you want – and then succeed in it – once you graduate.
Recommended activities to make the most of your degree
During your Masters you will have group assignments as part of your course. This is an excellent opportunity to practice leadership and team working skills. Proactively taking a leadership role within the team can be particularly valuable – you might not be able to show leadership through your internships because the roles are too junior – so take advantage of the opportunities to lead projects when you can. You might think of:
- Listening carefully to the team members around you and taking particular notice of body language to make sure you understand what your team think about the assignment
- Assigning appropriate roles to team members, making sure everyone understands what’s expected of them, and then scheduling meetings and/or individual conversations to keep track of progress
- If you face challenging team members, this is another opportunity to develop your skillset as a leader – e.g. listening to understand, wider communication skills and problem-solving
There are over 250 societies on campus, ranging from professional societies, such as the Finance Society and Consulting Society, to regional societies like the African & Caribbean Society or Asian Society. You can also join general societies such as Belly Dance Society and Game of Thrones Society. There’s enough choice to satisfy everyone’s interests. And if not, you can always set up a new society.
Getting involved with societies gives you the opportunity to work with people from all over the world, meet people with similar interests and take the lead (where possible) on projects and organising activities. If there don’t seem to be opportunities to lead projects, try using your initiative and creativity to think up new ideas. Equally, societies are a great way to give yourself downtime. When it gets stressful during exam time and interviews, taking an hour or two to chat about the latest episode of your favourite show or go salsa dancing (whatever works for you!) can be just the right way to manage stress levels. Sports are great for this too and always good as a way to demonstrate teamwork and resilience.
The WBS network is one of the most valuable things you can tap into. If you want to work in one of the big 4 audit firms, for example, then having meetings with WBS alumni who graduated in the last couple of years and now work at these firms could:
- Benefit your application: The very fact that you contact WBS alumni in companies you want to work for shows that you are a diligent, proactive and highly motivated student. The meetings themselves will help give you a unique insight into what the company culture is like. It can be hard to differentiate between the big 4, so meeting someone who works there will give you the edge. If you make a good impression then your contact within the firm may recommend you internally to the hiring manager and increase your chances of being asked for interview.
- Provide long-term value: A recent WBS graduate might only be a junior employee now, but keep in touch with them and 5 years from now they will have been promoted, or moved jobs – maybe they work in investment banking now, or private equity, or anywhere else you might want to work. Your Masters degree provides a great opportunity to be able to contact any company and make contacts that you can cultivate to benefit your career, for both the short term and long term.
Research / news
Whilst you are studying, make sure you keep up with relevant news and events in your industry (or industries) of choice. This helps develop your commercial awareness – an essential skill which all companies will test you on. If you want to work in finance, but cannot show any depth of knowledge about financial markets, this will undermine your application. Read the relevant newspapers, industry journals, and do proactive research to find out as much as you can about what’s happening in the industry you want to work in. Make sure you spend a little time each day doing this as commercial awareness is something that gradually builds.
There are a huge array of events available to you at WBS, with experts from all kinds of different industries. You will also have the opportunity to work with careers coaches to build your knowledge about different roles and make informed career choices. You will then be more convincing to employers in explaining your reasoning.
CareersPlus at WBS will support you on every step of your career journey. Careers coaches are available to speak with you before you arrive on campus, throughout your course and then post-graduation through the alumni careers service. Whether you already know what job you want to do, or need some support in working that out, you’ll receive non-judgmental assistance tailored to individually suit your specific circumstances. Don't hesitate to contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.