Bachelor of Business student James Hanley shares how he secured work with some of Australia's top firms outside the usual channels.
"I came from the country and was guided into an engineering degree by a high school teacher. He saw something in me and suggested I focus on advanced maths and physics. So when I started university, I thought I knew where I was going: I needed to be a smart person, get a job, build a career and ultimately, live the good life.
About a year into my degree I hit a wall and questioned whether I was following the right path. But being the first of my family at university, I owed it to my parents, grandparents and high school teacher to push through. I didn’t realise I was giving up control of my life to these people and wasn’t living authentically.
The penny eventually dropped and I had to make a change. So I asked myself; who do I want to become, what kind of impact do I want to have and what do I value? I realised I was studying something I wasn’t passionate about and so I made an ultimatum – either continue down the path laid down before me or live an interesting life.
So I transferred to a Bachelor of Business (Professional) with a major in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I stopped isolating myself and started engaging with people. I ran study groups, regularly met with the careers team and took a genuine interest in the people around me. I saw there were so many people and programs to support students. It was the best thing I ever did.
My first opportunity came by simply being open with people. I started telling everyone I wanted to work with one of the big four consulting firms. I even told customers at my part-time job, and they connected me with a director at one of the firms. I bought him a beer and picked his brain about his life and career. After a few hours, he offered to put me in front of any service line manager at his firm I wanted.
My second opportunity came from being genuinely interested in what the careers team at Swinburne had to offer. I got to know the team on a first name basis. They saw my interest and nominated me for a spot at another firm.