Each year, the University of Edinburgh Business School Alumni Team host a series of alumni panels for student cohorts across our programmes. These sessions offer new students a chance to gain insights and learn from the experiences of graduates. Pik Tze Hong tells us more about this year’s MSc Banking Innovation and Risk Analytics panel.
Students listening to a panel discussion

The gathering brought together three remarkable alumni: Andriani Chrysanthou (Class of 2017); Cuthbert Ngwira (Class of 2021); and Soley Reynisdottir (Class of 2023) who shared valuable information on how to make the most of the programme, how to strategically plan a career path, and the importance of soft skills and wellbeing throughout your professional journey.

Maximizing Your One-Year Programme

The first question posed to the panellists was about making the most of the one-year programme. Cuthbert responded by encouraging students to join the Edinburgh Award, an extracurricular programme led by the Student Development Team that helps to develop soft skills and differentiate yourself on the job market. He also highlighted the value of committees like "Speakeasy" to enhance presentation skills and participation in careers workshops to expand your network and learn from professionals in those areas.

Preparing for the Right Career Role

The panellists discussed the key considerations when preparing for employment. Soley advised students to build self-confidence by attending as many mock interviews as possible with the support of the Student Development Team. Cuthbert recommended students actively network on LinkedIn and optimize their profiles to showcase their best qualities. He explained that reaching out to recruiters on the platform was essential for opening doors to job opportunities.

This developed into a discussion of the different strategies for reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn. The panellists suggested introducing yourself with a brief description of your current work, demonstrating genuine interest in their experiences, and avoiding invasive practices like immediately sharing your CV. They explained that persistence is key, but it's important to keep moving forward if you don’t receive a reply. Additionally, making your LinkedIn profile "open for work" helps recruiters find you more easily. For job applications found on LinkedIn, Andriani suggested visiting the company's website to apply directly. This will ensure that your CV reaches the HR department.

Student speaking to peers with microphone

Job Hopping and Employer Perceptions

The question of whether employers have a negative perception of candidates who frequently switch jobs was addressed by the panel. Cuthbert made a profound point, emphasizing that mental health should take precedence over persevering in a job that isn't fulfilling. He highlighted that changing jobs to align with one's career goals is a positive and proactive step, not a negative trait. It's essential to prioritize personal growth and job satisfaction.

Mastering Online Interviews

Finally, the panel offered valuable advice for online interviews which have become a norm over recent years. Dressing professionally, setting up your camera in advance, and eliminating distractions were highlighted as the top tips for virtual interviews. Panellists also suggested locking doors and informing those around you about the interview to create a distraction-free environment. Soley said that preparing thoughtful questions for the interviewer was a great way to gauge whether the company aligns with your career aspirations.

In summary, alumni panels like this one provide invaluable insights for students to excel in their respective programmes and navigate their future careers effectively. The advice shared on building soft skills, networking, prioritizing mental health, and mastering online interviews are all essential components of a successful professional journey and therefore allow students to confidently prepare for the year ahead. Meanwhile, for alumni members, the opportunity to impart their knowledge and experience is equally beneficial and offers a chance to stay connected with Business School beyond their studies.

Pik Tze Hong is an MSc Entrepreneurship & Innovation student (2022-23).