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Source: Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

17 Mar, 2020

PWC Corporate Finance Analyst and AUT graduate Anna Gushchina says it was great to meet AUT students wanting to find out more about PWC at the Business and Economics Career Fair. She has been at PWC for two years now, starting with an internship that rolled into a graduate role.

Anna recalls the first time she approached employers at a career fair. She was so stressed she forgot her intro pitch.

“I felt stupid, but it was my first time and I just wasn’t prepared.”

She learned to overcome her stress by attending Employability Lab workshops and events, joining the AUT Edge Award, and practising her pitch to people she didn’t know. The next time PWC turned up – she was ready.

“Go to events, investment clubs, any networking place where you can do your intro pitch about who you are, what you do and what interests you. Employers do remember you if you do it well.”

In fact, Anna took down three students’ names over the morning of the career fair. One really impressed her because of a discussion they had about volunteering.

Master’s of Applied Finance student Maitri Shah found the companies at the fair were really helpful and gave lots of information about their graduate programmes and what they’d like to see from students.

“It is so good to be able to talk to employers and find out what they’d like to see in a CV. It really helps you work out how to prepare applications.”

It was Maitri’s second time at a career fair and she went with a plan to target Auckland Council, The Treasury, Deloitte and KPMG for graduate roles.

“I went last year as well and this time I knew I needed to do more and target certain employers.”

AUT Employability Relationship Manager Victoria Marshall, who organised the fairs with the faculties, says this is a key time of year for graduate recruitment so it was great to see a good turnout of both students and employers.

“From what I witnessed there were lots of in-depth conversations and connections and I got some really positive feedback on the calibre and preparedness of our students from a number of employers, which shows they (students) had really put the prep work in.”

She says splitting the event into two sessions, Business and Economics in the morning and Law in the afternoon, seemed to have a positive effect.

“Conversations were more focused, and students got to meet employers more relevant to their chosen career area.”

Feedback from surveyed employers has been very positive. Graduate recruitment was the main focus of about 60% of employers, while others came to recruit interns, raise awareness of their brand and signpost opportunities generally in their organisation.

Anika Scholz from Baker Tilly Staples Rodway says they came to the fair to let students know about internships coming up in November and graduate roles next March. She says, while grades are important, grades are only one part of what they’re looking for.

“We’re looking for well-rounded people doing things outside of university. We only take a limited number of graduates and interns, so personality is really important to us.”

General manager of HR for law firm Anderson Lloyd Kelly Pankhurst also talked about looking for individuals with good personal qualities.

“We want people with resilience who can talk to others. We can get a sense of this in your CV from information such as whether you have worked part-time, done sport, been involved in the community in some way.”

Kelly was happy with the quality of students she met at the fair and the questions asked about the summer internships Anderson Lloyd offer.

Audit NZ had AUT graduate Tiffany Campbell on their stand. An AUT graduate with a Masters in Accounting, Tiffany is in her first year of a three-year graduate programme with Audit NZ. She talked to the Audit NZ team at the career fair in 2017, then again in 2018 and decided she really wanted to work for them.

“The second year I took a business card I made up, on advice from Employability and Careers, and gave it to Audit NZ head of recruitment. He still remembers that!”

She says the prep she did through Employability and Careers and the AUT Edge Award really made a difference.

“It was something I really liked about AUT, after doing my undergraduate degree at another university. I felt the employability and careers services are much stronger at AUT.”

Connecting to employers through LinkedIn is another really important thing to do after meeting them at events, says Tiffany.

“I kept note of people’s names and asked to connect on LinkedIn with a message about seeing them and that really helped me build up my LinkedIn profile, so I became more visible. I think it showed I was serious about what I was wanting to do, and three or four reviewers contacted me after that.”

She added the students that engaged with her at the fair that were prepared really stood out and were the ones that would be remembered.