5 university experiences that will get you primed for the workplace
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5 university experiences that will get you primed for the workplace

Graduate employability is increasingly becoming a key factor for many prospective students. In the search for the right university, potential students need to opt for a course that will set them on the path towards their desired career.

As a creative and ambitious scholar, you’ll want to make sure your institution of choice will equip you with the skills needed to not only do well, but to flourish long after your studies.

So, what exactly are employers looking for, and what does it mean to be “employable”?

According to this year’s Global University Employability Rankings from Times Higher Education, the majority of employers believe that “professional experience” and a “high degree of specialisation” are the best predictors of employability among recent graduates.

However, your choice of university plays a key part as well – the 2014 Australian Graduate Survey found a salary advantage of up to six percent for graduates of universities in the Group of Eight, a collective of the country’s top research-intensive universities.

The Grattan Institute also published data supporting this: according to its updated 2015 report based on figures from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, graduates who attended a Group of Eight university had a lifetime income advantage of around six percent over graduates of other universities.

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Hwang Li-Ann (Best Graduate Award, BBusCom Hons) flanked by Econometrics lecturers, Dr Jason Ng and
Associate Professor Santha Vaithilingam

Out of all the universities in Australia, Monash University , a member of the elite Group of Eight, emerged as one of the best in preparing students for the workplace, receiving the highest number of votes from local employers.

Carrying the Monash brand of excellence is Monash University Malaysia, whose School of Business takes pride in producing graduates with the ability to adapt to the fast-paced business culture of today.

The school’s broad-based curriculum offers students a wide range of experiences that open up their world, enabling them to pick up the critical thinking and leadership skills, as well as the technical knowhow in their  chosen specialisations needed to successfully navigate challenges in the workplace, and develop brand-new, innovative solutions.

Professor John Benson, Head of the School of Business, said: “The rapid changes in work and industry have led to a shortage of graduates who can lead enterprises into the future. At Monash University Malaysia, we are focused on these rapid changes, and through activities such as internships and innovative curricula, we are confident that the graduates of the School of Business will be work-ready and able to meet the challenges and future demands of industry.”

Here are five unique opportunities from Monash Malaysia that enable students to unleash their full potential:

1. Take part in competitions

Are you someone who’s driven to be the best? Make the most of your competitive spirit and sign up for a competition!

That’s precisely what Monash Malaysia students William Teo, Dedi Lee, and Neil Liew did. When they chose to participate in the 2016 Maybank GoAhead Challenge (MGAC), little did they know that they would be among the 60 finalists selected from around the world to compete at the Grand Finals.

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Winners of Maybank GoAhead Challenge 2016, an international competition that spanned 13 countries

For Teo, a final year student, the decision was all the more worthwhile when his team, including teammates from China and Singapore, were crowned this year’s Grand Champions, walking away with a prize pool of US$40,000 and a conditional offer for the Global Maybank Apprentice Programme (GMAP), which allows trainees to gain two-years’ experience in a real-world banking corporation.

Commenting on what he has learned from taking part in the competition, Teo said: “It has taught me the meaning of firmly believing in yourself without being affected by the negative comments, and that truly, perseverance is the best ‘teacher’ in life.”

2. Attend workshops and industry talks

The school regularly organizes industry talks, inviting the top leaders of business to share their wisdom, so students should make the most of this rare chance to pick their brains. In a recent talk, Leonard Ariff, the Group Managing Director of Chemical Company of Malaysia Berhad, participated in a panel discussion on job market trends.

Touching on the attributes that employers expect of graduates, Ariff said that the ability to be “adaptable and curious irrespective of what happens in the future” will help candidates stand out from normal performers.

From April to August this year, selected Monash Malaysia students also took part in Google Ignite, a training-to-internship programme piloted by Google Malaysia, where participants got to develop their skills in digital marketing.

3. Become an intern

Internships are a valuable addition to any graduate’s resume, as most employers prefer those who have gained some first-hand experience. As an intern, you will get the chance to apply what you have learned in class to foster useful connections within the business and learn from those who have been in the industry for years.

Students of Monash Malaysia are able to reap the benefits of the university’s close links with major industry players at both local and international levels, allowing them their pick of work placement opportunities at prominent, global companies like L’Oréal, Nestlé, Unilever, Citibank, and Big Four accounting and auditing firms.

The number of students jumping at the chance to gain experience at a top company is on the rise: between 2015 to 2016, Monash Malaysia has seen a 43 percent increase in students undertaking an internship programme (147 this year from 103 in the 2014/2015 academic year), while the work placement programme has seen an even higher spike of 83 percent.

Monash Malaysia students have gone on to be employed by well-known multinational companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Ernst & Young Malaysia, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which are also this year’s the top three employers of Monash Malaysia graduates.

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Students from various disciplines participating in Monash Volunteers to help raise awareness and fundraise for various causes

4. Get out of your comfort zone

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at something new? University is the perfect chance to explore your passions and push your personal boundaries. From societies to sports, you can pick up a hobby or advocate a cause close to your heart, and make new friends in the process.

Recognizing the value of a well-rounded, globally-minded graduate, Monash Malaysia actively encourages students to cultivate interests beyond the classroom by taking up voluntary work or participating in contests.

During her time at Monash Malaysia, Accounting and Finance graduate Alicia Tan took up any opportunities which came her way, from organizing student events with the student council to working part-time at the student recruitment office.

Tan, who is currently undertaking a Master’s degree in Data Science and was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, attributed much of her success to the opportunities she had access to as a Monash student.

“I am who I am today because of the time I spent at Monash, discovering and defining myself, both in and out of the classroom.

“It was because of my lecturers who mentored and guided me through my studies and while I prepared for competitions, the colleagues I worked with, and of course, the friends I shared so much with, contributed greatly,” she said.

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From left to right: Mr Tian-Pouw Pun (Korn Ferry), Associate Professor Jane Tong (Monash Malaysia), Ms Cheryl Teh (Philharmonic Society of Selangor), Mr Leonard Ariff (Chemical Company of Malaysia), Professor Pervaiz Ahmed (Monash Malaysia), Mr Devendran Sinnadurai (Leaderonomics), (Alumni) Ms Radhika Divya and Ms Shannon Francis

5. Network, network, network!

In today’s globalized and interconnected world, students get plenty of opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, but it all comes down to whether you make the effort to introduce yourself and engage in a conversation.

Tan emphasized the importance of networking for graduates, saying: “I am a believer of the power of networking. Who knows, the person you had a conversation with at an alumni event might end up being your manager in the near future. I happen to be speaking from experience!”

Business and Commerce graduate Aftab Haroon agreed, adding: “I have met some of the best people on campus from different parts of the world.

“Networking is a strong tool which binds people together for a long time. It is important to stay connected because the contacts preserved could be of great help professionally and personally.”

There are many factors involved in what makes a graduate employable, from being multi-lingual to being top of the class, but it all comes down to leveraging the opportunities that come your way – and choosing a university that will make such opportunities accessible to you makes all the difference.

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