Career Management And Professional Development Education Essay

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Upon choosing my university course I literally had no idea as to what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work in the Finance industry but that was about it. By choosing Accountancy and Financial Management it meant that I could start to learn all the skills required for work in the Finance industry while not specialising myself so much that I would be limited by job prospects at Graduation. While my main specialities may still lie in either financial or management accounting, Appendix 1 [1] shows the many other possible routes that I could take. Many of the companies that fall under these categories will be based in London especially those involving investment markets, however there are plenty of possibilities to work not only across the U.K but also the rest of the world.

As well as looking at Graduate jobs, one other step forward is to become a chartered accountant. Again from looking at Appendix 1 within the UK there are seven key chartered agencies. However joining one of these will have to occur after I have started my career in order to know which one to join. For example if I wanted a career in tax I would choose the CIOT over CIMA.

After sourcing the jobs that my qualification leads me to do, it's now a simple case of battling the 300,000 other graduates each year for exactly the same job. One way to give me a fighting chance at the job is by getting noticed and as a result I will need to bring a whole range of skills and competencies to the table to show why I should get the job. Like most people I am able to offer skills such as Communication & Literacy be it written, visual or oral, an application of numeracy due to the fact that I am an accountant and as a result have to use numbers on a day to day basis, and an application of IT skills due to the fact that in this changing world the need to be able to use a computer is becoming more and more apparent.

The skills that I need to draw people's attention to are the ones that can't be quite so well taught and have to be developed through experience in the workplace. These include Self Management such as the ability to except responsibility for what I do, to be able to self motivate myself on my tasks ensuring that they are completed by the required deadline, and to be ready to accept criticism and feedback on the work that I have done so as to improve it to its best possible potential.

Furthermore I need to be able to talk about teamwork, not just "we did a task once at university in a group" but to be able to show real team player skills. At a basic level these would include a respect for fellow colleagues, to accept their decisions but also offer a level of negation and persuading, as well as making sure that I contribute to discussions and meetings, but then at a more advanced level to be able to work out what part people play in a team and maximise their skills and traits for example making sure that the ideas person talks with the encourager and compromiser so as develop the best outcome from an idea.

In addition to these, I also need to have business and customer awareness of the industry I am in. When going to a job interview this will include background research into the company, but it will also require an understanding of the key concepts that make a business succeed including risk and reward as well as innovation. This awareness then has to be compiled with good communication skills so as to report back to the end users be in internal managers or the external customer.

The results of my in class Myers Briggs assessment [2] had me as an Introverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging individual. This suggests that I am a hard working individual with a clear sence of what is right and wrong. I would tend to agree with this particularly as I do not deal too well with "Grey areas" of a situation. The test also shows me to be a dedicated individual who I believe I am and is something that I have to offer to graduate employers. Although the accuracy of these tests is something to be argued it does suggest that an ideal job for me would be something based in finance. The result of the test also shows that some work in developing the extravert side of me as well as assessing problems on the basis of ideas rather than just facts will help me to become a more rounded individual.

Before moving onto finding the right job for me, I also needed to look at what motivates me, in other words what do I need my ideal job to offer in order to get me out of bed in the morning. The results of my Career Drivers Profile survey [3] shows me to be motivated most by the need of job security which with issues soon to be faced such as getting a mortgage I would be inclined to agree with. My other drivers included status and material rewards. While I would agree with these to some extent I would say it is more a case of wanting to be recognised for doing a good job and also having the financial reward for inputting my hard work.

So What Is The Right Job For Me?

Upon completing my placement, one thing that is a certainty is that I don't want to become an account, despite this however a career in finance in particular regards to the money markets is one that I feel suited to. My reasons for this are drawn from a personal interest in Stocks & Shares as well as performing well in the related modules at university. After going to numerous graduate fairs I have started applying for Investment Banking and Asset Management jobs, due to the nature of the job however, most of these are based in London. As a result should I be successful in an application it would mean re-locating down to London and starting an entirely new part of my life, one which I would be excited to do, but also a little apprehensive at the same time.

In terms of what I can offer my perspective employer, I am going to have to go beyond what everyone else can offer due to the fact I am taking almost a sidestep in my choice of career versus those who have graduated with a banking and finance degree. Hopefully my passion and drive for the investment area of finance should come across and having personal experience in the buying and selling of shares and bonds through a broker should at least give me some heads up on the competition. If I should get a face to face interview at any institution however it will be important for me to see which competencies are being assessed during my interview and make sure I have a "bank" of examples that I can draw from and adapt in order to answer on questions involving teamwork, personal challenges and personal triumphs to name but a few. It will also be important to do some research into the company and try and drop that into my answers in order to show that I have taken the time to learn about the company.

Got to Get Myself Connected!

Arguably one of the most important rules in business is that it's not what you know but who you know. Unfortunately upon graduation I am going to be one of the many who knows a lot about my specific subjects but with little practical experience and very few contacts within the industry. As a result something has to be done now in order to try and gain as big an advantage as possible. In my first year I signed up as a student member of CIMA, during the past few years there have been many opportunities to go to social events and network with people yet I have not bothered going to them. This year may be a good idea to go and network and at least get myself on the radar. The second thing I have done is to set up a LinkedIn account. While many people argue they are of little use I believe they may be a useful tool for keeping track of the numerous people I will meet in the future and it also shows perspective employers the few people in the industry that I currently know. Fortunately as a result of my placement year I now have contacts spanning from Cornwall right up to Glasgow.

Dependent upon if and what professional body I decide to join, they may also be a great source of contacts. As well as the student opportunities listed above, by being an actual member of the professional bodies I will be able to network with those currently practicing in the industry rather than just guest speakers and these people in turn may be able to put me in touch with other contacts to further help aid my career.

Further to this, I believe that the University may be able to help with my networking through the Alumni service. This will help me keep in contact with both my course mates from this year, my friends who didn't go on work placement who have now graduated, as well as many other useful contacts who are currently working in, or having the same issues as me trying to break into the investment profession.

One other set of contacts that may prove to be very useful is the recruitment agencies, particularly those who specialise in Finance such as Hayes or Sewell Moorhouse who last year managed to get 100% of all university placement students who came to them into employment. As well as helping me to get a job if my graduate applications are unsuccessful they will be able to provide pointers on my CV and covering letters, but more importantly they will be a contact for life. For example if 10 years down the line I want a totally different change of career then these people will be here to advise where to go.

Making the Jump - Career Management Plan

Many of my targets here will be based around my action plans as a result of my work placement report. [4] However my career direction as a result of the placement year leads me away from the idea of becoming an accountant.

My first target was to continue developing my financial skills. At the time of my report this would have been my accounting skills however upon reflection and deciding that I no longer want to be an accountant these skills must be transferred over to other financial areas such as the investment area of finance I am interested it. Fortunately my university course gives me the flexibility to do this as the final year incorporates both accounting modules but also modules covered by the Banking and Finance students which are directly related to the career path that I now want. Despite the increase in work load and the sheer difficulty of some of the subject matter, I am still hopeful that I will be able to walk away with a 2:1 degree at graduation.

My secondary target was to continue the development of both my personal and professional skills. Unfortunately due to no longer being on placement I am not in a position to be developing these skills through a work based environment. However due to the amount of graduate applications that I am completing I believe that they at least give me the opportunity to develop my communication skills through the completion of online applications, covering letters and telephone interviews. Hopefully I will be able to practice face to face communication skills via interviews if I am lucky enough to be shortlisted for any of these applications.

My final target was to develop a career plan for after university. It was evident at the time that Accounting may not have been the ideal job for me hence the graduate application made to HMRC, unfortunately that application was rejected after the online numerical and verbal tests. Since then however I have applied for numerous other vacancies all focused around the investment banking area of finance with big companies such as Fidelity but then also looking at investment advising services such as Oliver Wyman. It was my thought that while I am now sure which area of finance I want to work in, I shouldn't be tying myself down with one specialised job area.

The other thought I had in helping to develop my career was to carry on at university in the form of post graduate study. However I soon ruled this option out due to the cost but also that I believe now is the time to get into industry and to start shaping my career. Further to this by not carrying on in postgraduate study I still have the option to complete all of my professional qualifications through whichever company I work for and then later on down the line if I think that I would like to go back into education, the postgraduate option is always available for me.