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career advice
02 Aug, 2021

TOP BUSINESS CAREER ADVICE FOR STUDENTS

If you’ve decided to pursue a business career, seeking out career advice early on is a great way to set yourself up with productive habits. Maybe you have a specific interest in finance or analytics, or managing large teams? Perhaps you have an innovative streak and dream of starting your own business?

Studying business will help you gain foundational skills across all these areas, but it’s important to make the most of the whole experience. This involves taking a broader view of what your school or institute has to offer, taking advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom and starting to think strategically about your career from day one of your study.

Here, we’ve gathered expert advice and handy go-to resources, to answer some of your top questions around how to build a successful career in this field.

1. DO YOUR RESEARCH: BUSINESS AREAS, MAJORS AND SPECIALISATIONS


A business degree can take you across a variety of industries.

Studying a Bachelor of Business or a postgraduate Business Administration course will allow you to cover a broad range of subjects to develop and progress in a managerial career. You will learn analytical, high-level problem solving, and communication skills. It will prepare you to graduate with a firm understanding of different business environments and effective ways to approach, create and execute operational business plans.

What you actually ‘manage’ depends on your interests and career goals, and can span across roles within government, private business or non-profit sectors.

However, if you know that you want to branch into a specific area, such as accounting or business analytics, gaining industry knowledge can help you stand out in your chosen field.

career advice

Whether you choose a general course, a specific branch of business or an MBA specialisation, ultimately depends on your unique interests and how sure you are of your career trajectory.

Here’s a quick rundown of a few business areas and specialisations that you can pursue at Kaplan Business School:

Accounting

Accountants provide individuals and organisations with information relating to financial performance. They help manage their finances, tax credits and obligations, and give advice on compliance and record management. All this can contribute to effective internal and external decision-making for a business.

What will you learn in an accounting major?

  • How the accounting cycle works, financial recording and reporting
  • Auditing process
  • Financial statement preparation and analysis
  • Central management accounting concepts including budgeting, cost-volume-profit analysis and cost behaviour

Career pathways

  • Corporate accountant
  • Tax accountant
  • Business analyst
  • Management accountant
  • Financial officer

Further reading

Business administration

The general area of business administration is suitable for students who want to pursue a degree in strategic management.

Depending on whether you are studying a diploma, certificate or master level of qualification, this will involve learning to various degrees about topics such as:

  • How to interpret financial data
  • Operations management and decision-making models
  • Consumer behaviour and marketing psychology
  • Contemporary leadership practices


What will you learn in a business administration specialisation?

A specialisation is an opportunity to gain more industry-specific skills within a particular brand of business.

At KBS, we offer eight specialisations in our Master of Business Administration course, including:

  • Data-driven Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Health Services Management
  • Tourism and Hospitality
  • Leadership Digital Management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • International Leadership
  • Women in Leadership

Think you might benefit from two of these areas? You also have the option to study a dual specialisation. This enables you to graduate with two specialisations, without having to complete any extra subjects.

Want to learn more about whether an MBA specialisation is right for you? Take the quick quiz in our Ultimate Guide to Doing an MBA.


Career pathways

  • Management consultant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Leadership trainer
  • Research analyst
  • Various others, depending on your area of specialisation


Further Reading

business laptop

Business Analytics

Business analytics refers to the scope of roles that involve reviewing and analysing business processes and using data to problem-solve and create efficiencies for a business or organisation.


What will you learn in the area of business analytics?

  • General aspects of the data life cycle
  • Issues relating to data security and ethics
  • Data-driven decision making and forecasting
  • Hands-on experience in data visualisation software
  • Use software to apply methods for exploring consumer behaviour and social media

Career pathways

  • Business analyst
  • Social media specialist
  • Reporting analyst
  • Business consultant

Further Reading KBS blog: Becoming a business analyst

2. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SCHOOL’S CAREER SERVICES

The first go-to resource for any student looking for career advice should be your school or institute’s career hub or service.  


careers central

For example, at Kaplan Business School, Careers Central provides valuable career services including:   

  • Supporting you in finding work placements to build local experience in Australia  
  • Connecting you with employers to complete an Academic Internship that will count towards your degree 
  • Inviting you to exclusive careers workshops, fairs and industry events where you can network with employers and develop your employability skills 
  • Preparing you for the workforce with one-on-one career coaching 
  • Promoting various graduate roles with businesses spanning start-ups, local SMEs, not-for-profits and ASX-listed companies


​​​​​​​Will James, National Careers Manager, discusses career wellbeing and 'Boreout' in one of our Kaplan Community Podcasts:

podcast

3. DEVELOP YOUR SOFT SKILLS

While gaining industry-specific knowledge is critical, it’s important not to overlook what employers call ‘soft’ or ‘employability' skills.

'Hard’ skills are those that require technical knowledge of your trade. ‘Soft’ skills, such as cognitive ability, problem-solving and emotional intelligence, are character traits and interpersonal skills that relate to how you work and operate in the workplace.

According to LinkedIn, the top three areas of missing soft skills for candidates today include:

  • Problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity
  • Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity
  • Communication

It goes on to list more in-demand soft skills in 2021 including:

>  Adaptability

>  Collaboration

>  Creativity

>  Emotional intelligence

>  Persuasion

Why do soft skills matter?

For employers, these skills are important because they demonstrate the characteristics that you will bring to your role. They measure your ability to:

  • Work well with a team
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Think critically about problems/issues you might face
  • Stay organised
  • Demonstrate leadership
  • Communicate effectively

Tips for developing soft skills

If you’re studying at KBS, a number of your subjects will have various soft skills incorporated as part of your curriculum. For example, studying an MBA you will complete subjects such as ‘Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence and Diversity’, or ‘Innovation and Creativity in Business Analytics’, as part of a Master of Business Analytics.

You don’t need to have graduated and been in the workforce to also start working on these skills yourself.

Here are just a few ideas about where you can start:

  • Take on an Academic Internship – experience in a workplace environment is a great opportunity to work on a whole host of soft skills such as dependability, professionalism, and adaptability.
  • Be proactive in group assignments and tutorials – you can choose to take a back seat or make the most of these opportunities to ask questions, think critically, practise your active listening and communication skills. Feedback from your assignments is a great way to identify soft skills you might need to work on in the future.
  • Look into extracurricular activities – make yourself aware of any extracurricular programs you can be involved in. For example, a student ambassador program can help you to work on soft skills such as leadership, responsibility and mentorship (having this on your resume communicates it to future employers too!)
  • Practise networking – make the most of networking events offered by your school or institution. Aside from the potential to make valuable connections, the process of interacting at these events is a great exercise in various interpersonal skills and will help to grow your confidence.


Further reading

4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ACADEMIC INTERNSHIPS

There are two main types of internships: work placements and academic internships. The main difference is that an academic internship requires a greater time commitment and an assessment component so that the experience can count towards your academic credit.

An Academic Internship, whether it be face-to-face or online, can offer you real-life experience and various opportunities to build employability skills that are invaluable.

It’s not just for those new to the workforce either. Whether you’re changing careers or industries, moving into an area of specialisation or wanting to transition into a managerial role, an internship can be your way to get your foot in the door.

Some key benefits of undertaking an Academic Internship include:

  • Getting industry knowledge
  • Making professional connections
  • Opportunity to put academic skills to the test
  • Add valuable references and experience to your resume
  • Gaining a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses
  • Building soft skills – teamwork, adaptability, problem-solving
  • Clarity on career direction
  • Organisation and time management skills
  • Improving communication/interpersonal skills
academic internship

*KBS Your Academic Internship Experience Survey, May 2019.

**Based on students placed in academic internships during Trimester 1, 2021.


'My experience improved my soft skills and capabilities in the workplace, such as time management, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.    

I made a lot of professional connections and received excellent recommendations that helped me to find work at a large Australian electronics company as a quality and compliance specialist.'  – Zhanna Kurenkova  (KBS student, completed an internship with Trisco Foods) 

Kaplan Business School has an extensive network of industry partnerships across five cities in Australia that spans startups, local SMEs, not-for-profits and ASX listed companies.

Further reading

KBS blog: How does an online internship work?

5. GROW YOUR NETWORK

All sound business career advice highlights the value of being able to make connections in your industry. But it won’t happen unless you say yes to invitations that come your way and put yourself out there even when they don’t.

Here are some top tips on how to network effectively from Brazilian KBS student, Giselle Machado, who recently secured a position as a development team lead at OurProperty.

  • Access opportunities that meet your career goals  

A quality business school’s careers service will have access to exclusive work experience and volunteering opportunities, which is a rich avenue to meet other professionals in your industry.   

There are many different types of networking events/forums that you can explore including industry events, graduate events, Meetups and Facebook groups.   

  • Preparation is key

There’s nothing like feeling prepared to give you the confidence boost to step out of your comfort zone. Here are a few pre-event pointers: 

  • Consider attending your first event with a student who has more experience at networking events – it can help to see a confident networker in action! 
  • Speak to a career advisor at your school, or a business mentor (a professional who offers his or her knowledge, wisdom and advice to someone less experienced) ahead of the event to gain any valuable tips. 
  • Research the event you’re attending so you know what to expect and the type of professionals and businesses you’ll be interacting with. 
  • Try to arrive early – this will give you the chance to approach people and introduce yourself before they’ve had time to form groups.  
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up! 

Keep reminding yourself: people are open to listening to you! Remember to smile and be yourself. You don’t want to come across completely focused on selling yourself; engaging in a conversation is a much more genuine way of making a connection. 

  • Challenge yourself with a target 

Having a target for a networking event can be a great way to build your confidence and form new relationships.    

Example targets:  

  1. Make 5 new contacts and connect with them on LinkedIn.   
  2. Collect 10 business cards  
  3. Organise a coffee catch in the next week with a new contact 
  • Follow up on LinkedIn 

Business networking shouldn’t finish when the event does. Your end game is to follow up with (and nurture) the new contacts you worked hard to make. Connecting with them on LinkedIn can be a great first step to kick-off future interactions.  

Further reading

KBS blog: Business networking in Australia

6. BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR JOB APPLICATION

Your job application should always be personal and tailored to the role and organisation you are applying for. Here are some key steps to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward:

When you read a job advertisement you want to apply for, take the information and break it down into three headings, based on what the employer is looking for:

a. Personal attributes

b. Qualifications

c. Work experience

Doing this extra work upfront will pay off when you begin to craft your cover letter.

A cover letter is a half to one single-page A4 letter that you include with your job application. This is your sales pitch that will market your credentials so it’s very important to make each word count. Your cover letter should be well-formatted and broken into paragraphs, with plenty of white space and no spelling or grammatical errors.

Here is a free cover letter template, adapted from SEEK, that you are welcome to use.


Cover letter outline


First paragraph

  • Introduce the role and express your enthusiasm for the role.
  • Make a bold statement – state that you’re the ideal candidate because you have the personal attributes, qualifications and experience necessary to make a valuable contribution to the organisation.

Second paragraph

  • List your personal attributes: 2-3 sentences to cover all the essential attributes you possess that are mentioned in the job application. Cluster them together i.e. speak about complementary attributes in the same sentence.

Third paragraph

  • List the qualifications that make you the ideal candidate for this role. If you’re currently studying for a degree, include in brackets the year that you anticipate you will graduate.

Fourth paragraph

  • Outline the experience/achievements that make you the perfect candidate for this role. Keep it to 2-3 bullet points. Use performance-focused and measurable descriptions where possible. For example, in my time at my current place of employment, I have signed on X new clients.

Closing

  • Give them a reason to look at your resume and invite them to offer you an interview.

Keep your resume simple and professional, with lots of white space. Tailor your experience to the role you are applying for.

Here is a free resume template that you are welcome to us, designed in collaboration with the KBS Careers Central team.


Key tips for each section


Contact

  • Use a professional email address
  • Ensure you have customised and hyperlinked your LinkedIn URL. Click here to learn how.

Profile

  • Include 2-3 sentences to highlight your key skills and experience
  • Tailor your resume with keywords from the job description

Education

  • Include any special accreditations, scholarship awards, academic prizes or acknowledgements as a bullet point underneath the relevant qualification

Skills

  • These can include, but are not limited to:
    • Languages spoken
    • IT proficiencies and systems
    • Computer programming languages
    • Exposure to inhouse systems

Employment history

  • List most recent job first
  • Don’t include experience over 10 years
  • Include a company description in the overview section in cases where the company may be relatively unknown
  • Describe your accomplishments in 3-4 bullet points. Each bullet point should focus on action words and the value you contributed. Include measurable results such as budgets, revenue, size of team, number or reports, profits, etc.
    • For example, ‘within an accounts receivable team of five members, managed portfolio ledger streams of over >$250k/month’.

References

  • Make sure you’ve contacted your references for permission

General formatting

  • Education versus work history: if you’re a professional with lots of experience, your experience should come first. But let’s say you’re a student and your educational background is your strongest selling point. In that case, consider putting your education section first.

Did you know that 33% of bosses say they know within 90 seconds whether they will hire someone? *   

Here are four top interview tips from one of our  Careers Advisors at Kaplan Business School:   

Research and prepare – when you fail to plan, you plan to fail 

  • Make sure you research the background of the company and find out what the culture is like. If you know people working for the company, you can get in contact with them. 
  • Have a look at the position description prior to the interview so you know what skills and competencies they are looking for and think of different examples you can use to demonstrate them. 
  • Be prepared with answers to common questions, for example, the first interview question, 'Tell me about yourself'.    

Use the STAR approach 

  • This approach can help you structure your answers especially for situational questions (specific questions about how you might handle a real-life scenario on a job or how you’ve handled it previously). For example, ‘Tell me about a time you’ve shown leadership on a project?’ It’s good practice to think about some strong examples from your prior work experience as part of your preparation. 
STAR

Make a good first impression! 

  • If you are unsure about the dress code, you can give the organisation a call to make sure you dress appropriately. 
  • Plan your trip to the interview in advance, taking into consideration peak hour traffic, etc. 
  • Make sure you treat everyone you meet in the office well. Introduce yourself to the receptionist in a friendly manner. Remember to smile and be confident! 

Ask questions 

  • Asking thoughtful questions shows that you are genuinely interested in the company and it also proves that you have done enough research to seek clarifications on parts that you are unsure about.   

*Source: Classes and Careers 


General tips for job applications


  • Keep a work journal – when you’re in a role keep a weekly record of your main duties and any key achievements. This will be invaluable when it comes to giving examples of your experience on your resume or in an interview setting.
  • Apply for jobs regularly – don’t limit yourself to only applying for jobs when you’re unemployed. By submitting four job applications a week (which may translate to 1-2 interviews a month), you will be well-practised in the interview process. It gives you a chance to interview when not under pressure. It’s also valuable time spent with an expert in the profession that will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of salary ranges and trends as to where your industry is going.

Further reading

Download our free e-book ‘How to find a job in Australia: A-Z guide for students’, produced by the KBS Careers Central team.

7. CREATE A STRONG PERSONAL BRAND

Your personal brand simply means being clear on what values and skills you have, and your future goals, so that employers can understand and perceive the value you can offer them.

Once you can define it, you can bring your brand into your online presence – including your resume, online bios, application letters, and social media profiles. It’s also something you can bring forward in job interviews, or whenever you’re pitching yourself or your ideas.

According to Seek, if you want to create a professional brand for yourself or you’re looking to refine it, you should consider:

  • Your goals – now and moving forward
  • Your market – the industry or people you choose to work with
  • Your value – what you bring to these people or organisations
  • Your message – what you need them to know about you

Top tips to create a strong brand on LinkedIn from our National Careers Manager at Kaplan Business School: 

  • Use the cover photo feature to create a tailored image that reflects your personal brand and industry experience. If there’s one place to exercise your creativity on LinkedIn, it’s the cover photo! 
  • Make sure your profile picture is a true representation of you right now. Use a high-resolution image, pick a background that isn’t distracting, don’t use too many filters, and ensure your audience can see your face. 
  • Your headline must include the keywords you want to be found for via the search function. For example, ‘Certified Public Accountant (CPA) | Property Accountant | Real Estate & Construction Accounting’. Ensure it stands out from the crowd, speaks to your ideal client and reflects the benefits you can bring to a business.  
linkedin scrolling


  • The summary section should never be written in third person – this is unnecessary, as you should be trying to connect with your audience by speaking directly to them. This is an opportunity to highlight your career story – where you have been, where you are now, and where you are headed.  
  • Your professional experience section should be succinct and focused – leave the detail for your CV. Highlight your achievements and outcomes in each role, not your day-to-day responsibilities. And don’t underestimate the power of adding media here – this can include portfolio snapshots, projects you’ve worked on, or links to external websites or resources. 
  • Voluntary experience paints a strong picture of your ability to proactively develop your professional skills and abilities in a co-curricular context.  Hiring managers want to see internship experience listed, as well as any community-driven volunteering which complements your passions and career desires.  
  • Being able to speak more than one language can be valuable to an employer, particularly in Australia, where many organisations already do business in international markets. List this under the ‘languages’ feature and detail your level of proficiency.

8. BECOME A LIFELONG LEARNER

At Kaplan Business School, we’ve introduced something called the Lifetime of Learning Guarantee, which offers our alumni, as the name suggests, unlimited, free and lifelong access, to:

  • All online classes of the course from which you graduated
  • Our globally recognised Careers Central service

Here are just four benefits of lifelong learning that can help you take a more sustainable approach to your career development:

Regain self-confidence

A recent global IBM report predicts more than 120 million people will need upskilling or reskilling within the next year.

There are many ways skill gaps can be addressed: in-company education programs, training provided by an external provider and further formal education. As encouraged through our Lifetime of Learning Guarantee, another way is retaking classes to update your skills and keep abreast of the latest advancements in knowledge in your field.

At different points in your career, it’s an opportunity to remain competitive, increase job security and feel confident about being able to adapt to changes in your role.

career advice

Increase your market value

Continuing to learn throughout your career can also help you gain knowledge and skills in new areas beyond your immediate field of work. Imagine how this could expand your job opportunities!

For example, as part of the Lifetime of Learning Guarantee, our Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates are free to complete subjects that they didn’t choose or had the capacity for as part of their original program.

After years of experience within your industry, do you now feel ready to start your own business? No problem. You can go back and study from a range of elective subjects such as ‘Fundamentals of entrepreneurship’ and ‘Small business administration'.

Apply for jobs effectively

Lifelong learning isn’t just about building on your technical knowledge and soft skills. Staying on top of job market trends long after you’ve landed a graduate job can be extremely valuable for several reasons.

Lifelong career development can help you to:

  • Get your confidence back in applying for a new job if you’ve held the same position for years Learn how to negotiate a pay raise or promotion
  • Update your resume content, format and design to reflect what employers are currently looking for
  • Learn about new job-search platforms that may not have existed when you were last looking for a job
  • Freshen up your interview skills

Imagine being able to access career mentoring and flexible support whenever you need it.

That’s what our Lifetime of Learning Guarantee offers – free and ongoing access to our Careers Central team and all its services you were able to benefit from when you were a student. This includes getting the input of KBS’s career professionals when updating your resume, receiving feedback on your cover letter and running one-on-one practise interview sessions.

Stay connected

As a graduate from an educational institution, perhaps one of the greatest sources of lifetime learning that’s often underutilised is your fellow alumni network.

Being active within your alumni community is a great way to stay connected to a wide network of culturally diverse professionals who are pursuing careers in your field and growing their own networks that you might be able to tap into.


Click below to find out more about our free Careers Central service at Kaplan Business School - your go-to resource for career advice that’s tailored to you.