So you’re probably thinking, who are you and how could you possibly be telling me how to enter the work force. A bit of background, I’m Hannah and I studied the Bachelor of Accounting at UTS and graduated last year. During my time at university I undertook numerous internships across different industries including accounting, restructuring and investment banking. I learnt a lot of invaluable tips and tricks during my three years at university and within the workforce, and honestly, at times I wish I knew a lot of these things prior to starting my internships.
- Dress to impress
I have learnt that first impressions are very important, whether it be during an interview process or at your first day in a new role. Ensure that you observe the dress code of the team, and remember that it is always better to overdress than underdress. Once you settle into the team, you can switch to more casual clothing (given the context of the workplace).
- Read the news
I found that reading every day and financial news was a great way to expand my general knowledge, but also a fantastic way to start conversations. My one tip is to make sure you do not bombard your managers or anyone in the firm with news as soon as they step into the office, but scope out the relevant context. Keep in mind that you do not need to use an excessive amount of business jargon to seem intelligent, rather, most people would prefer a down to earth intern or analyst.
Through my internships, I learnt that communication is key and probably one of the most crucial attributes you need to succeed in any role. This is especially important if you are in a high intensity role with stringent deadlines. But in any case, whether you are in anything from accounting to consulting, the need for communication is paramount. When you are given the work, you should ask when this work is due and let them know if you have any other priorities. It is important to periodically update your manager and let them know where you are up to when your work. If there are any issues or clashes between the work you are given from different people, your managers will generally sort this out with each other, however make sure you ask for the result.
- Be prepared to learn
The learning curve for any job is huge, so make sure you keep an open mind and do not get overwhelmed. I find that I learn the best when I am open and honest about either a lack of understanding, or my thoughts on a piece of work.
I often heard a phrase thrown around in many, if not all my old workplaces. The day you stop learning is the day you need to change jobs.
- Attention to detail
As you may know, attention to detail is key. It is essential for anything you do in life, whether it is writing an assignment, or working in a part time role. Working quickly is essential, but you need to be careful.
Check, and check again, as it is often better to give your supervisor something that is perfect than riddled with mistakes. You should always make sure you know what the time stamps and due dates for work are, some things need to be done ASAP, whilst others do not.
- Take on feedback
Be prepared to learn and take on any feedback you receive. It is crucial to show your employer that you are receptive and can act on feedback by improving the quality of your work and interactions. If you don’t understand the feedback, seek clarification. If you don’t say anything, no one will come and provide that clarification.
- Be inquisitive
When you are in a professional environment, ask questions and pick the brains of your employers. You should ensure that you do not overstep the line between being annoying and inquisitive. Make sure you think about the questions you ask and ensure that they are insightful. This is the most effective way to learn best practice.
One of the most important tips in business is building up a strong network of like-minded people. You can never be too certain where these networks will take you, and when you will be able to leverage it. Take advantage of all the networking events that student societies and the university organises, and look to expand your network. I know that I went to numerous networking events as it gave me a more holistic understanding of what companies and industries offer.
- Do not be arrogant
There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Exercise the right judgement in determining if you are overstepping that boundary. Remember, that you are at the bottom of the food chain (or corporate hierarchy), hence you are there to learn and soak up the knowledge of your seniors. It is fine to provide constructive input, but do not act like you know what is up, because chances are, you don’t.
- Never doubt yourself
I think as university students, with emphasis on being female, there is always doubt in the back of our minds regarding the extent of our capabilities. There have been one too many times when I have questioned myself about my ability to deliver a piece of work or take on a particular role. However, as I undertook more internships and built up the necessary confidence, I stopped doubting myself and gave everything my best go. That way, I knew that I would have no regrets when I looked back.
Never doubt yourself, and just give it a shot.
- Put your hand up
Put yourself out there in the corporate world, but know your own scope, and your ability to take on extra-curricular activities at work. When you enter the corporate environment, most firms will have numerous activities such as lunchtime soccer, women’s society or an innovation club. Seek out what aligns to you and your interests. This relays back to my previous point about never doubting yourself and just putting your hand up for things that interest you.