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Passionate about new ideas? Consider a career in innovation!

GradAustralia

If you have the tenacity to create and implement new ideas, have a passion for change and improvement, consider a graduate career in innovation.

What is innovation?

Organisations face increasing pressure to stay on the right side of the cutting edge. With no time to rest on their laurels and with competitors constantly seeking to take a slice of their pie, organisations are always looking to create new ways of doing things, whether it’s a new product, service or radically improved process.

Whatever it may be, organisations are spending more money on fostering innovative cultures, from empowering their people to tinker with ideas (think Google) to developing in-house innovation labs.

That’s why innovation has become the new darling of the corporate (and non-corporate) world… and why we are increasingly seeing the rise of customer-centric cultures, plus technology to foster this innovation.

For graduates seeking a career in innovation, there are no hard and fast rules. The desire for innovation is pervasive and can be found in anything from larger corporates to professional services firms.

If you work for a larger corporation, for example, Commonwealth Bank or Optus, you will have the opportunity to embed yourself within a digital team and learn what it might be like to work in an innovation lab. Consultancies such as McKinsey and Deloitte also offer their own digital services. Alternatively, you may choose to work for a specialist innovation consultancy, for example, 2nd Road (recently acquired by Accenture) or perhaps even a startup.

What is the graduate experience in innovation?

Your experience as a graduate will depend on where you land. Larger corporations and consultancies like those mentioned above are more likely to offer structured graduate programs and rotations.

During this time, you may be exposed to a range of roles such as user experience (UX), product management, digital sales, customer-centred design or digital content. Alternatively, as a consultant, you may be expected to take a higher-level strategic view of the organisation and recommend avenues for innovation.

What is common across these roles, however, is the ability to operate in an environment of immense uncertainty – and potential scrutiny. The very nature of innovation is that the outcomes are unknown, which is why there is such a focus on customers and designing for their specific needs.

As a graduate, you may be expected to assist in interviewing customers, collating feedback, researching the market, doing a competitive review or financial modelling to test the commercial viability of an idea. Being able to develop an informed view of the back of analysis and articulate this will help your team take ideas to the next level.

Being prepared for failure – but doing what you can to pre-empt it – is critical. While at times, working in innovation may be heartbreaking, seeing an idea take off and become a success is hugely satisfying.

What are your career prospects in innovation?

The world of innovation is, well, constantly innovating. Jobs that weren’t around only a decade ago have become the new norm – from user experience designers to product managers, these types of roles are ever-evolving.

The best way to progress in this field is through experience. Whether that’s being an entrepreneur and launching your own startup, or being an intrapreneur and working within an organisation to incubate ideas.

The skills learnt in innovation are easily transferable and depending on what area you are interested in, you may eventually seek roles in marketing, sales or operations or even launch your own startup!

Choose this if you have:

  • The tenacity and passion to push ahead with radical ideas.
  • An ability to operate in an ambiguous and uncertain environment.
  • A love of new things and learning how to make things work.

Ready for the next step? Browse graduate programs and internships at GradAustralia.