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Our guide to developing a solid career plan to set you in good stead

CAREER KICKSTARTER: This guide will take you through the key steps to identifying career pathways that would suit you, understanding the skills you need to develop and finding the tools that will help you develop those skills.

One of the most important things you can do during your time at university is to develop a career plan. It may sound intimidating; how can you possibly know what you want to do for the rest of your life? Well, you don’t need to. The key to professional development is self-awareness, in order to find a career that will make you happy, you need to first understand what motivates you, what your strengths are and what skills you need to develop.

PART ONE: Identifying potential careers

1. Uni careers team

There are many ways that you can identify potential careers, a good place to start is your university careers office. The specially trained careers advisors will talk you through the career options available to you with your degree, as well as any industry-specific qualifications or charter ships you may need. They can also give you some great tips on how to improve your resume.

2. Attend careers and industry events

Most careers fairs take place between March and October. They are an invaluable source of information, they allow to talk face-to-face with potential employers and really understand who they are, what they do and the attributes they look for in candidates.

3. Give it a go

Once you have developed a clear view of what type of industry you would like to work in, take a look online for vacation jobs and internships. These roles give you firsthand experience of the career, give you an opportunity to develop your professional network and help to build your CV. RSM offers three great opportunities for you to give it a go:

  • Undergraduate Development Day
  • Vacation Program
  • Undergraduate Program

PART TWO: Understanding your skills

1. Talk to friends, family and people who know you well

Once you have answered these for yourself, it’s also worth talking to your friends and family to see what they do for a living and what they think you might be good at. Have the same discussion with your lecturers and do some research yourself into potential careers.

2. Develop your self-awareness

If you’re still not sure, Take a look online at the various online survey tools that identify careers that match your skills, personality and life aspirations. There are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to determine which career best suits you:

  • Do you want to travel regularly?
  • Do you want to work autonomously or as part of a team?
  • What type of personality do you have?
  • How does your personality match the career path you would like to follow?
  • What motivates you?
  • What things are you good at?
  • What things do you really want to avoid?

3. Identify the skills and personality you need for your chosen career

The best way to do this is to take a look at the careers websites of potential employers in your chosen industry. List out all the skills they mention in their advertisements and then assess yourself against them. Once you have identified your strengths and development areas, make an action plan to help you gain those vital skills.

PART THREE: Finding the tools to develop professionally

1. Find a mentor

A mentor is someone who you meet up with regularly to seek advice from and share ideas. Here are our tips for finding a good mentor and making it work for you:

  • Find someone who you would like to emulate. They may work in the career you’d like, or have skills or personal traits you’d like to develop.
  • Ask them out for coffee, if you want to find a mentor, you have to be proactive and initiate the conversation, they won’t find you.
  • Ask them if they would mind being your mentor and agree with them the framework of your mentoring. How often you would like to meet, the skills you’d like to develop, the things you’d like to learn.

2. Learn online

You’re already studying, so don’t over-do this one, your main focus should always be on your degree, but learning online doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a vast number of great podcasts, TED talks and blogs that can offer you incredible insights into your target industry. For example, if you want to work in Finance, look at the AFR, The Economist and WSJ websites, to familiarise yourself with what’s happening in the industry. You could also do online certifications, such as Xero or Quickbooks certifications, which are free and look great on your CV.

3. Expand your professional network

Its never too early to start developing your professional network and the obvious place to start is on LinkedIn. Make sure you complete your profile as much as possible and have a professional profile picture. Treat LinkedIn as your virtual business card, when you meet people in real life, add them to your LinkedIn so that you can stay in touch. You should also use LinkedIn to follow potential employers, keep up to date with industry news and get involved in groups. Once you have LinkedIn up and running, now its time to get out there and meet people. There are many ways you can do this:

  • Attend industry and careers events
  • Join university societies
  • Join MeetUp groups
  • Attend seminars through Eventbrite
  • Become a CA Student Rep
  • Attend networking events for young professionals

For more information please contact: rsm.com.au/careers