The one thing that’s always frustrated me as a business student, is that there are limited ways to gain experience in a workplace setting before you graduate. Students studying in areas such as teaching and nursing get ample exposure to their future workplaces, however business students seem to be somewhat forgotten. That was my view until I first heard of the unit EFB342 about six months ago.
Last year, after finishing my first year of university, I decided it was time to take some initiative and try and gain some industry related work experience. Towards the end of the summer break I wrote up my resume, which included a GPA well above the distinction grade, and began to submit applications for summer internships for 2016-17. With my GPA I was confident I would receive an offer; however that confidence turned out to be false. I made five applications and I was only offered a first round online interview from one of those. And a first round interview is as far as I progressed. I was fairly disheartened with the outcome of my applications and I quickly realised the competitiveness of the industry.
I came to the conclusion that relying on my GPA alone wasn’t going to get me to where I wanted to go. I needed to differentiate myself and to do that I decided I needed experience. But how do you gain experience when practically the only experience on your resume is working in a pizza shop?!
I didn’t know the answer to this question – until I received an email midway through first semester this year. The email in question had the subject line “Workplace Experience in Economics and Finance.” I was immediately interested and I proceeded to read the information contained within. The text was advertising a unit that gives Finance and Economics students the chance to undertake 100 to 120 hours work experience with a wide range of reputable organisations. I knew this was my chance to gain the industry experience I desperately needed, so I checked out the prerequisites and was excited to see I would be eligible for the subject in semester two this year. This is where my EFB342 journey began.
After receiving the email and reading the information I went about completing the required steps to undertake the unit. I touched up my resume and sent it through to the extremely helpful EFB342 Administrator Angela Fletcher. About a week later I received a phone call organising an interview with Angela and the subject coordinator Lyndon Lyons. At the interview I was asked questions about why I was applying and what I hoped to gain from the unit. After the interview I knew this unit was right for me and I had my fingers crossed I would be successfully placed.
A few weeks later I received an email from Angela advising she had organised for me to have an interview with KPMG for a position in their Mergers and Acquisitions team. I was over the moon at the news and even more so a few days later when I was told that my interview was successful and I would be undertaking work experience with one of the biggest accounting firms in the world.
I opted to do my 100 hours of work experience full time over the July holidays. During this time I got a first-hand look into what the future might hold for me and I got to experience various aspects of corporate life. I was involved with all activities the full time staff members undertook; including weekly team meetings and EOFY drinks. I didn’t just learn technical skills whilst at KPMG, but I also picked up a lot of general career related tips from talking to various staff members. These tips are what ultimately have benefited me the most.
After completing my placement I had a new found motivation so once again I decided to apply for summer intern roles; this time with KPMG included on my resume. I applied for three positions and I received final round interview offers from two. One of these I had to decline as I had already accepted a summer role with McGrathNicol.
In the span of about seven months I went from struggling to gain an offer for an interview to having multiple final round offers, and what I ultimately have to thank for this change is the unit EFB342. So if any of you ever have the chance to enrol in EFB342, take the opportunity with both hands and don’t let it slip!