One of the special things about Wesley College is the enthusiasm shown by former students to come back and share their knowledge with existing students. This was certainly the case when the OWCA hosted a Careers Uncovered evening for people interested in the worlds of commerce and finance.
Ian Parker (74-76), Matt Braysher (Wesley College Council), Cale Dewar (03-10) and Tom Goodheart (09-15) formed the OWCA’s panel. After the event, Tom Goodheart took some time to share his thoughts on the evening. Here’s what he said:
As an Old Boy, it is always humbling to be invited back on campus to participate in special events like the Careers Uncovered evening. I have strong memories of being coached and mentored by Old Boys whilst I was a student at the College, so it was great to have the opportunity to follow suit.
Having only started my full-time working career just under six months ago, hearing the stories and tips from the other panellists was invaluable for me, as I am sure it was for many of the students and Old Boys who attended.
At the conclusion of the evening I went home and took stock, reflecting on the key takeaways that I would remember as I continue to navigate my own career:
1. Value and Partake in lifelong learning
One of the common themes that emerged from the evening was the importance of valuing and partaking in lifelong learning. This was emphasised by the fact that Ian and Matt – who are both experts in their fields – are currently upskilling themselves with further university studies. Whether it is to stay in the loop with industry regulations or to prepare for the next step in your career, the ability to learn and upskill is crucial in an everchanging business world.
Lifelong learning is not restricted to university courses. It includes on-the-job experience too. In fact, the panellists commented on the value that can be derived from getting a job straight out of school and delaying the commencement of tertiary studies.
Why is this the case? It is often your experience rather than your university degree and results that separate you from other candidates when applying for a job. Have you got experience working in high performing teams? Can you demonstrate that you are willing to learn from your mistakes? Can you perform under pressure? You will be far more equipped to answer these questions from recruiters if you have some experience under your belt. You also never know where that job might take you.
Many school students do not have a clear idea of what they want to do post-school, and that’s absolutely fine. Part of this concept of lifelong learning is gaining a better understanding of who you are and what it is that brings purpose to your life. Some of the panellists, including myself, shared stories of changes to career plans as a result of this lifelong learning that is derived from experience.
So what’s the key takeaway? Continue putting yourself in a position to learn more – whether that be about a specific subject, skill, or even yourself.
2. You only have one name
The panellists were all asked to share the best piece of advice they had ever been given, and one response revolved around the statement “you only have one name”. It reminded me of the Warren Buffet quote that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”.
There is no doubt that your own personal brand is important. It comprises of the unique skills and experiences that make you who you are. It is how you present yourself to the world. Based on the stories shared by my fellow panellists, it is clear that humility is required in fostering a strong personal brand. You need to remain grounded, as you never know when you could be without a job.
This is particularly relevant given the current state of the world. The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented, and the unfortunate truth is that people are losing their jobs. This is why we need to continue to upskill and put our best foot forward; you cannot be complacent.
3. Build your network
The panellists were all in agreeance that building a strong network is at the core of a successful career in Commerce and Finance. Networks open the door to new and untapped opportunities. There is a lot of value that comes from incidental conversations.
If you are a university student, go and speak to the company representatives that set up stalls on campus. That representative might be the one to pick up your resume one day and could remember that conversation. If you are a school student, go and speak to past scholars about what it is that they do. They might introduce you to a career pathway that could be suited to you. They may even have a job opportunity for you or could introduce you to someone that does. Even better, you might find yourself a mentor.
A well-chosen mentor can be a great sounding board that provides honest feedback when required. You might not always agree with the advice that they give, but you know that they have your best interests at heart. In some cases, these mentors may be in a similar line of work to you, just further along in their careers. In other cases, they may just have values and ideals that resonate strongly with yours. These mentors form a crucial part of our personal networks.
Wesley College students are fortunate in that they have access to a network purely based on the fact that they attended the College. It is by no means an exclusive ‘boys club’. Rather, it provides an initial talking point – a foot in the door. That foot in the door can come in the form of events like the Careers Uncovered evening.
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