Skip to content How to Master Your Career After University

How to Master Your Career After University

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the perspectives of IIBA.
Receive free IIBA updates and exclusive content!    

For fresh graduates, the job market can be frustrating. To help make your transition from student to professional a little easier, I want to share some tips to prepare you for your employment journey.

The best thing you can do is start drawing attention to yourself. That means making sure you get noticed by employers or those who might connect you to one.

So how do you make yourself stand out to potential employers? Glad you asked.

Build an Online Presence

Technology is evolving every day and so is the way we communicate with the world around us. Having a professional profile on LinkedIn is no longer a luxury, especially for entry-level professionals. There are many sites and YouTube channels that discuss how to improve your LinkedIn profile, so I won’t get into that here.

It's also a good idea to open accounts on freelancing sites like Upwork and GitHub. Freelancing will give you opportunities to work on projects you can include in your portfolio. Remember to connect those sites with LinkedIn so employers can check out your work and notice your talent online. This will go a long way in building a solid reputation as an expert in your field.

Give Back to Your Community

Many universities offer part-time employment opportunities to students. Look for an opportunity that fits your schedule and interests, such as tutoring or mentoring a younger student in your area of study.

Although this position may not directly relate to your field of expertise, it’ll help you gain essential workplace skills such as communication and time management. You can also add this experience to your resume, which is incredibly valuable for those who are new to the job market.

Looking for an even bolder move? Try asking your favourite local company if they’ll let you volunteer for them during your vacation. This can boost your skill set and provide much needed exposure to the job market. Plus, you’ll be working for a company you already admire.

Learn the Basics

Internships are usually low-paid or unpaid, but the upside of this is that they require little or no experience. An online internship is more accessible than an in-person one, so it bodes well for your chances of securing a position.

Another perk is that you can work while studying. So when you finally hit the job market after graduating, you’ll have both a university degree and valuable experience. It’ll also prepare you to work remotely while giving you vital exposure to your industry of interest. Now that hybrid work models are more common, showing that you can handle remote work is a great way to stand out to potential employers.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, consider pursuing IIBA’s Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA). Unlike more advanced certifications, the ECBA doesn’t require related work experience or professional development hours. And it’s specifically designed for people who are relatively new to business analysis.

Besides showing employers that you’re committed to professional development, certification leads to increased earning potential and better job opportunities.

Talk Your Way to the Top

As with internships, networking can be done online and in person these days. If you choose to network online, message recruiters in your industry on LinkedIn and befriend them. Let them know about your qualifications and skills, then leave your details so they can contact you when something pops up.

If you’re unsure how to make the first approach, here’s a sample to get you started:

Hi [first name]. I’m on the job market, and I see you specialize in [X] recruitment. If you kindly share your email address, I can send you my CV and supporting documents. Regards, [your name].

Make these kinds of conversations the norm rather than the exception. It’s how you collect most of your industry knowledge and build connections. Also be sure to check out IIBA’s Certified Professional Directory, which provides a searchable hub of certified IIBA members and professionals.

If in-person networking is more your thing, start by attending seminars and masterclasses to connect with like-minded and experienced people. Also be sure not to miss any career expos, where you get information about the companies you might want to work for (and so much more). An excellent way to network with other business analysis professionals is to get involved with your local IIBA chapter.

Above all, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal is communication—so get out there and talk. Be a people person. You can’t get anywhere if you don’t learn how to speak to others.

Learn from the Best

Going mentor-less (in any industry) is like travelling to a foreign place without a map. Mentors are valuable at any stage of your career, and there’s no limit on how many you can have.

If you’re a university student and you’ve never had a mentor, start by asking your favourite tutor or lecturer. As you begin attending seminars and meeting great people online, you can have as many mentors as you like. You can also have different mentors for different interests. For example, I have a mentor for my business analysis journey and another for the supply chain industry.

If you’re a senior business analysis professional and you’ve never had a career mentor before, your immediate manager may be a great fit. They already know your current skill set and even some of your career aspirations. Failing that, IIBA chapters also have mentorship programs that will match you with a mentor in your area.

Say Yes

I learned this lesson early in life: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Opportunities are everywhere, but we often wait for them to come to us. And when they don’t, we complain that we’re unlucky. Most of the time, you have to go grab the opportunities yourself. Be ready to run after them if you want to succeed.

Your future lies in your hands. You create your own destiny.

Visit the IIBA Career Center to connect with a career coach, get a free resume review, explore jobs, or get career insights on various roles, titles, and salaries.

About the Author

Joyline Makwena is a volunteer at IIBA. She is currently employed as a Junior Route Planner by a Supply Chain Solutions company called Inhance. She recently graduated from University of KwaZulu Natal with a Bachelor of Commerce in Information Systems and Supply Chain Management. Now the goal is to explore both industries.

Must Read Blogs From IIBA

Business Analysis

Tools for Finding Your Dream Business Analysis Job in 2023

IIBA has launched and improved Career Center to connect employers to qualified business analysis professionals across all disciplines and career stages.
Read the Blog
Business Analysis

Professional Certifications to Boost Your Career in 2023

Ready to earn a business analysis certification? Here’s some trends and information to help. 
Read the Blog

3 Reasons Why Companies are Hiring Business Analysts

The number of jobs for business analysts in the US will rise from 364,000 to 2,720,000 by 2020. Here are 3 reasons why companies are hiring business analysts.
Read the Blog