Get hands-on early
Kids these days are on top of their ECA game. But doing extracurriculars relevant to your dream job is more important than bulking up your CV, according to Ajeyo Rohitashwo ~ Al Quazi, Group Chief People Officer at aamra companies. “If you're considering a career in HR, it's important to be involved in extracurricular activities that require communication and thinking. HR is a thought-driven function,” he advises to students who are about to enter the corporate world.
On the other hand, Sabbir Hasan Nasir, Executive Director at ACI Logistics Limited, suggests youngsters who want to build a career in retail to develop their tech side too. “We require various skills in our day-to-day activity. So I think everyone should at least have some basic skills, i.e. IT, graphics design, programming, etc. Try to develop these skills; it will invigorate your resume!” he explains.
On the marketing side, Aftab Mahmud Khurshi, CMO of Bengal Group of Industries, emphasises the importance of building your personal brand. His advice to a young professional is to not be a bookish person. “To be a successful marketer, you have to know the market as well as the culture besides the theory. You need to have business acumen and some natural in-built talents. Reality is different from the books,” he shares. And that means staying updated on recent trends, always: “People engagement is the future of marketing and innovative engagement models are coming up every day.”
Age isn't the only thing that gives you an edge
People often believe that experience requirement is a hindrance for moving up in their careers, but Rohitashwo says, “It's not only age that gives you an edge. Your personality and intention to learn also matter. These two complement each other. One makes you agile and able to act, the other makes you think strategically.” The right attitude and willingness to learn are what make a young candidate a strong one.
Rubaba Dowla, Co-Founder and Managing Director of PlusOne Services and former Chief Service Officer at airtel, points in a similar direction: “You have to look out for what is happening around the world. For gathering knowledge, do not keep confine yourself to the Bangladeshi context. Go global. Especially in the telecom industry, we are constantly looking for innovation.” When asked what skill sets would give young grads an extra edge in the work force, she believes getting things done on time makes all the difference. “In university, you are given an assignment that needs to be completed within a month or so. In the corporate world, things need to get done right now. So it is always a race with time,” she says.
Put out your real self
According to Rumana Rahman, Head of Human Resources at BAT Bangladesh, the worst thing somebody could do at a job interview is project a different self: “The people on the side will know. We are not looking for clones. We are looking for individuals who bring a difference.” By not being your real self, you're missing out on an opportunity to make a mark, because even if you make it through the door, the organisation might not be the right fit for you.
Solaiman Alam, Head of Marketing at Grameenphone, also advises youngsters to not oversell themselves at interviews: “Frankly speaking, if you are in your early 20s, it's obvious you haven't conquered the world. The interviewer doesn't expect that either. Just be yourself. Be confident, try to highlight your strengths, let them know what values you can add.” But he adds that recruiters love to hire a person who has made an impact. Why? “Because despite being a fresh grad, he or she has proved himself or herself amongst peers. We consider them achievers,” explains Alam.
Know what you're getting into
It's expected for a graduate fresh out of uni to feel like he or she has been cast into a vast ocean, but it's also you're job to figure out how the whole system works. “Before anybody gets into a job, they need to understand the industry, the company, the roles, and the responsibilities. Do your research before you actually get involved in a job. Make sure you do not confine yourself to the text only,” recommends Rubaba Dowla. According to her, after the initial shock, some persist—they learn and adapt in a short amount of time, and this is of paramount importance if a young grad is to cope with the stress of the corporate world in Bangladesh.
And it's equally crucial to know how to behave in such a confluence of people, clients, and organisation, Dowla adds. “When you are working for a company, it is not only your skills, but also your attitude that plays a role in your success. If you are not able to work in a team then it might be over for you. No company will keep you, even if you are the best resource.”
Amiya is In-charge of the career publication of The Daily Star.