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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 are interested in finance or analytics or managing large teams. Perhaps you have an innovative streak and dream of starting your own business.

Whatever your career goals are, studying or further studying business will help you gain foundational skills to fulfil them. However, studying is only one part of the journey. You must also take advantage of the student support and career services available and any industry events or networking opportunities.

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

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

Studying a Bachelor of Business or a postgraduate Business Administration course will allow you to cover various subjects to develop and progress in a managerial career. You will learn analytical, high-level problem-solving, and communication skills.

You will graduate with a firm understanding of different business environments and effective ways to approach, create and execute operational business plans. Gaining industry knowledge by reading industry journals or listening to relevant podcasts can also 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?

  • 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

Business administration is suitable for students who want to pursue a degree in strategic management.

What will you learn?

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

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

We offer eight specialisations in our Master of Business Administration course, which are:

1. Project management

2. Health services management

3. Tourism and hospitality leadership

4. Digital management

5. Data-driven leadership

6. Entrepreneurship

7. Women in leadership

8. International leadership

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

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?

  • 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

Student story: Meet a career changer: Payal Gidwani

Information Technology

Information Technology is using computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of data and information.

What will you learn?

  • Technological and programming concepts and tools.
  • Develop applications, frameworks, products and services for analytics and cyber security.
  • How to communicate complex problems and solutions to diverse stakeholders effectively.
What will you learn in a Master of Information Technology specialisation? We offer four specialisations in our Master of Information course, which are:

Career pathways

  • Systems or network analyst
  • Web administrator or designer
  • Programmer
  • Software engineer
  • Various others, depending on your specialisation

Further Reading

KBS blog: Should I study an IT degree?

KBS blog: 5 types of IT jobs in demand in Australia

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.  

At Kaplan Business School, Careers Central provides valuable career services, including:   

  • Career coaching (over your lifetime)
  • Academic Internships that will count towards your degree
  • Careers workshops and industry events  
  • We assist you with job applications (e.g., Job search, resume and cover letter writing, and interview preparation).
  • Job search assistance
  • Online employability experiences and learning
  • Graduate recruitment

3. DEVELOP YOUR SOFT SKILLS

While gaining industry-specific technical knowledge (hard skills) is critical, it’s important to develop ‘soft’ skills that are in demand by employers.

Soft skills, such as cognitive ability, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills, are character traits 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, including:

In-demand soft skills

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

Here are our 4 TOP TIPS to start developing soft skills:

  • 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 take a back seat or make the most of these opportunities to ask questions, think critically, and 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 – Research into activities outside of study. For example, a student ambassador program can help you to work on soft skills such as leadership, responsibility, and mentorship. Volunteering will help with social and teamwork skills.

  • Practise networking – Attend networking events offered by your school. You can make valuable industry connections and practise your interpersonal skills to grow your confidence in promoting yourself.

Further reading

4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ACADEMIC INTERNSHIPS

Whether you’re changing careers or industries, moving into an area of specialisation, or wanting to transition into a managerial role, an Academic Internship can offer you real-life experience and various opportunities to build invaluable employability skills.

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.

The 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
To run the Academic Internship, Kaplan Business School has partnerships with an extensive network of businesses across five cities in Australia that spans startups, local SMEs, not-for-profits and ASX listed companies.
academic internship

5. GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK


All business career advice highlights the value of being able to make industry connections. To make this happen, you need to take the initiative to research and join relevant industry group events and build your confidence in promoting yourself.

Here are TOP TIPS on how to network effectively from Brazilian KBS alumni, Giselle Machado, who is now the Lead Developer for a global technology consultancy called Thoughtworks.


1. Access opportunities

Access work experience and volunteering opportunities through the school’s careers service to meet industry professionals. Join industry networking events/forums via Meetups and Facebook groups. 


2. Preparation is key

Before attending an industry event:

  • Consider going with another person who has more experience at networking events and learn how they network effectively.
  • Speak to a career advisor at your school, or a business mentor to gain any valuable tips.
  • Research the event so you know the type of professionals and businesses you’ll be interacting with and the activities that will occur.
  • Arrive early. This will give you the chance to introduce yourself to people before they’ve had time to form groups.
     
3. Don't be afraid to speak up

People are open to listening to you. Be yourself. Do not focus on selling yourself but instead engage in a conversation genuinely and ask people questions.
 

4. 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 4 key steps:


1. Perform a job breakdown 
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 will help you draft your cover letter. 

2. Write a tailored cover letter 
A cover letter is a one-page 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. 

Read on the dos and don’ts and key tips for writing your cover letter. 
You can download our free cover letter template. 

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

 
Read on the dos and don’ts and key tips for writing your resume. 
You can download our free resume template

4. Interview practice 
During an interview, 33% of bosses say they know within 90 seconds whether they will hire that person or not (source: Classes and Careers).  
 

HERE ARE 4 TOP INTERVIEW TIPS:


1. 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, contact them for advice.  

  • Look at the position description before 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, ‘Tell me about yourself.’   

  

2. Use the STAR approach  

This approach can help you structure your answers for situational questions (specific questions about how you handle a real-life scenario on a job). For example: 

‘Tell me about a time you’ve shown leadership on a project?’ or  

‘Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work and how you resolved it.’  

3. Make a good first impression
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Plan your trip to the interview in advance to ensure you arrive on time.
  • Introduce yourself to the receptionist in a friendly manner and be respectful to all office staff.
  • Remember to smile and be confident!
     
4. Ask questions

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

PRO TIP:
Keep a work journal – If you are currently working, keep a record of your main duties and key achievements. List these examples of your experience on your resume or use at a future interview.

Further Reading 

Download our free e-book ‘How to find a job in Australia: A-Z guide for students’ 
KBS Blog: Top 9 job interview tips for success  

 

7. CREATE A STRONG PERSONAL BRAND

 

Your personal brand 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 include your brand in your cover letters, resumes, social media profiles etc. You can talk about it at job interviews, or whenever you’re pitching yourself or your ideas to employers.

 

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
 

Our TOP TIPS to create a strong brand on LinkedIn:

  1. Add a professional profile picture.
    A good profile picture can enhance your credibility. 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.
     
  2. Your headline must include the keywords you want to be found via the search function.
    For example, ‘Certified Public Accountant (CPA) | Property Accountant | Real Estate & Construction Accounting.’ Ensure your headline engages your ideal client and reflects the benefits you can bring to a business.
     
  3. Write the summary (About) section in first person.
    This is an opportunity to highlight your career story – your mission, your skills, where you have been, where you are now, and where you are headed.
     
  4. Your professional experience section should be clear, concise, and always updated.
    Highlight your main educational qualifications and certifications. List work achievements and outcomes in each role, not your daily responsibilities. You can include visuals such as portfolio snapshots, projects you’ve worked on, or links to external websites or resources.
     
  5. Include any internship experience and volunteer work.
    The employer can then get a picture of your ability to proactively develop your professional skills and abilities in a co-curricular context as well as your desire to give back to the community.
     
  6. Include relevant skills. This is important for employees and colleagues to see your strengths.
     

    Further Reading 
    Student story: Melodie Vignaud on building an online network
    LinkedIn article: How do I create a good LinkedIn Profile? 

8. BECOME A LIFELONG LEARNER


No matter how long you’ve worked, there is always something new to learn. At KBS, we offer a Lifetime of Learning Guarantee, to all our alumni. This means that after you graduate, you can access all online classes of the course you graduated from anywhere around the world at no cost. You can also access lifelong career coaching.

The 4 benefits of lifelong learning are:

1. Regain self-confidence:
At some point, people will need upskilling or reskilling in order to fill the skills gap created by global technological and economic changes. It is important to remain competitive and build confidence in adapting to changes in your current and future roles.

2. Increasing 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 and open up new job opportunities. Perhaps you are ready to start your own business? You can go back and study from a range of elective subjects such as ‘Fundamentals of entrepreneurship’ and ‘Small business administration' at KBS.

3. Apply for jobs effectively:
Learning about new market trends and what skills employers are currently looking for be useful when you apply for new jobs or promotions, update your resume, or write your cover letter.

4. Stay connected
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.


Further reading

KBS Blog: Lifelong learning: 4 benefits to help your career thrive.
Student Story: Wakako Kiba – a lifelong learner



Find out more about our free Careers Central service at Kaplan Business School.

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