Employment relations, Student experience

Assignment to Appointment

In our latest post, PhD candidate Julie Sharmin Akter shares a career hack which might just make securing a job after university that much easier.

As postgraduate students, we’re always in a dilemma regarding our careers.

We’re never sure what to choose for our future professions. Should we apply for apprenticeships in industry? Should we continue with further studies? Or should we start an entrepreneurship to pursue a dream project? The latter of course requires lots of investment, though!

And we must find time to focus on all these things while studying, not after graduation or anything like this…

So, how can we prepare ourselves for this big test?

Well, I’m not an expert here, but during my time studying in Leeds, Cardiff and teaching at Jagannath University, I’ve seen lots of students struggle with these same issues – including me!

So, maybe I can help?

As a business graduate student, we spend 3 years (sometimes 4) studying lots of different modules. Some of them are purely quantitative (i.e., financial mathematics, statistics) and some of them are purely qualitative (i.e., strategic management, managing people). To pass them successfully, we need to submit numerous individual and group assignments (i.e., case studies) and articulate some assumptions as recommendations.

Why am I telling you this? Well, maybe we can use these assignments to help prepare for future appointments?

For example, imagine someone is really fascinated with the retail sector and loves cars like BMW.

Now, if they choose to focus on BMW for their assignment as part of a strategic management module, take up the reading on this company’s adopted strategy and try to relate their tactics with theory, then they can easily understand the strengths or provable weaknesses of BMW’s implemented strategies, across logistics, operations, and sometimes marketing activities.

Moving forward, if they chose to focus on the same BMW company for their managing people module, they can dig down into the organisation’s adopted approaches to human relationship management or customer relationship management.

As we saw in the strategic management example, they’ll once again be in a strong position to locate strengths and best practices. They’ll know why the company is best to work for or how the company produces customer satisfaction. So too can they identify weaknesses, like why the company is not good to work for or how the company handles their customer complaints. 

Cumulatively, these assignments become the student’s own research and supports their expertise relating to BMW. The assignments also act as strong evidence (remember, the assignments are marked by academics experts) for future job applications. And so, if they get a chance to justify their expertise in an interview for a role as an apprenticeship for BMW, they might be more knowledgeable than other applicants.

I’m not saying that this is the only way we can use our assignments, but maybe this is one way we can think about our future careers and develop some proficiencies to help us achieve our ambitions along the way.

It worked for me.

I got my PhD proposal idea from a supply chain management module which I took at Leeds Business School. A Professor liked my idea and encouraged me to pursue my PhD path.

And here I am now.

Julie Sharmin Akter is a PhD candidate in the Logistics and Operations Management Section of Cardiff Business School.

Before embarking on her PhD study, she completed two postgraduate programmes one at Cardiff Business School and another at Leeds Business School. Since then, she has worked as a Postgraduate Researcher in Cardiff Business School and as an Assistant Professor in Jagannath University of Bangladesh.

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