Becoming a Professional
Critical Success: Graduate Attributes
Entering university you are embarking on the initial journey of becoming a professional. Employment these days is not guaranteed, so developing the flexibility and versatility to manage your future career becomes a number one priority for each student. Future employers will see your attributes as employability skills which become their criteria for selection when employing graduates.
What are they?
Attributes are those transferable skills, competencies and attitudes which enrich your application and transfer of specialised knowledge to new situations. You will need to understand the importance of these attributes, how they can be developed, documented and communicated to demonstrate to prospective employers what has been gained while studying at university. Employers will make choices based on not just knowledge but the attributes you can demonstrate.
The University of Newcastle identified three broad domains of attributes for its graduates Professionalism, Community Responsiveness and Scholarship. These domains encompass combinations of generic skills and qualities which the varying disciplines contextualise differently.
The Faculty of Business and Law expects its graduates to develop a set of high degree professional and technical skills and the adoption of ethical standards and codes of practice. In addition it aims to develop a range of attributes which will enable you to confidently and successfully enter your profession of choice and facilitate your committed engagement within the local and global community. The Faculty of Business and Law established Statements of Professional Competency derived from the three domains and pertinent to legal and business careers to direct program specific graduate attribute profiles and enhance student learning outcomes.
Each undergraduate program has aligned their graduate profile to the University attribute domains. Graduate Attributes and Generic Skills are embedded within the Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Laws and the Diploma of Legal Practice courses.
What do employers want?
What are the essential qualities of a successful graduate hire?
"Most important to us in selecting graduates is leadership potential. A significant number of our senior leaders came through a graduate or similar program. Career progression for graduates here can be fast, so we are looking for people who have the ability take initiative, create outcomes, engage others, think conceptually and work and communicate across our business.
"We also look for diversity. Whilst our graduate roles are based in Australia, our business has an international presence. Australian citizenship is not a requirement for graduate employment at OneSteel as it is for many other organisations. We're interested in international students too!"
Ainsley Gilkes, Senior Advisor - Sourcing and Talent Pipelines at OneSteel
With such a range of disciplines what are the common characteristics you look for in graduates?
"A strong academic background and/or proven technical skills are highly regarded. However, grades are not all we look for in our graduates. We are also looking for enthusiasm, motivation and the following attributes:
- Ability to work independently as well as a member of a team
- Well developed research and analytical skills
- A strong client focus and interpersonal skills
- Commitment to innovation and initiative."
Shona McKendrick, Graduate Recruitment Advisor at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Linking Your Study to Current and Future Employment Options
Within your degree each course has embedded opportunities for you to build your attributes, experience certain skills (such as team work, sequential projects etc.) and their practice in contextual environments. Course learning outcomes reflect the discipline knowledge, skills and attributes which will be formally assessed within your program. Keeping records and work examples will assist to build a constructive portfolio and attribute profile.
Consider other avenues of evidence such as leadership roles, as well as activities such as paid work, club membership, volunteering, sport, club or society memberships, and family responsibilities. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your transferable skills and personal attributes, identify areas for further consolidation and consider how to strengthen your career profile.
Develop your Attributes Now
Your professional path is now predominantly your responsibility and yours to pave. Define and track your successful engagement in your discipline and professional courses and participation as an active member of the university community. Many attributes can be enriched by involvement in the community, joining clubs, societies, sporting groups etc.
The below accompanying university and faculty programs and activities can get you started
- The Lucy Program
- International Leadership Program (iLEAD)
- Students in Free Enterprise
- Student Ambassador Program
- Cross-Faculty Programs