Discovering Hidden Career Potential Through Conversations with Advisers

November 10, 2016

Stephanie Bucklin

Sometimes, it’s not a skillset or specialized degree that a candidate needs to enter a new career—it’s a broader perspective. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to know what sorts of opportunities you’re missing out on until you talk to people who can show those opportunities to you.

This was the case for Ben Wonson, who received a Bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Wollongong University. Ben studied computer science and moved into a role as a senior developer at his company, but went back to school for his MBA when he realized that he would rather pursue a career in business. “I didn’t see a lot of career progression,” Ben explains. “I wanted to move more into management, away from the development side of coding.” 

However, Ben wasn’t so sure what this new business role would look like—until he received an email from his university asking him to participate in Insider Edge, Wollongong’s mentorship platform. Ben hoped to get advice from someone in a position he wanted to move into, so he made an account on Insider Edge. The adviser that Ben chose to reach out to had also changed careers, moving from an engineering background into business. It was Ben’s adviser who first suggested that Ben look into sales, an area that Ben had never really thought of before, but which would help him develop the skillset he needed to get to the management roles he was aiming for.

“It’s narrowed my focus now on what I have done and what I need to do,” Ben says. “I’m more driven and more focused in my career.” Ben now works as a senior consultant at a software development company, a position, he states, he likely would not be in had not his adviser helped shape his course.

Advisers are aware of just how important this out-of-the-box advice can be, and how crucial it is for them to open students’ eyes to opportunities they may be missing. Donna Dark, an adviser at Insider Edge, works as a governance specialist and owns her own consulting business, Lighthouse Advisory Services. She notes the importance of candidates not underselling themselves, and also not limiting their options. “It’s not so much about trying to box yourself into one particular role,” Donna emphasizes, “but thinking more about what you’ve learned and the skills you’ve developed, and thinking about how you can sell that to the market.”

Donna notes that Insider Edge allows students to get career advice in a safe, confidential environment, from people whose perspectives are more varied than the typical circle of family and friends that the advisee has. In this way, students are able to learn about roles and opportunities that otherwise may never even have been on their radar, ultimately shaping the trajectory of their career.

About the Career Advisor Platform

Ben and Donna are just two of the many advisors and advisees interacting on Wollongong University’s Insider Edge. Mentorship platforms like this connect students and alumni for one-on-one career advice, mock interviews, and resume critiques.

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