Thinking inside the box
Getting acknowledgement in a new environment is always difficult. There are so many challenges that wait in the path of our goals. Every student has this idea; the path to getting recognized in the SAP world is simple. Train yourself in the product that excites you, perhaps complete some certifications, and gain good academic grades and….. It is done!! You’re on your way to getting your dream job! Well… To a large extent that is mainly what an undergrad thinks about.
For changing our views entirely about this, the past 3 months have proved to be highly informative and enlightening for us in the post-graduate class BCO6181 at Victoria University. Our lecturer Tony de Thomasis introduced us to new ways of how we can use networking effectively to gain and better our professional careers. We were lucky to have attended presentations from a lot of great guest speakers such as SAP mentors Marilyn Pratt, Graham Robinson, John Astill, Chris Paine, Sascha Wenninger and Judy Cole. They gave us valuable insight into the SAP world and we would like to thank them again for their contribution to our class.
There is no doubt that for a newbie to make it in the SAP world looks like an uphill task. A survey suggests that above 70% post-graduate students in Australian universities are international students. It’s hard enough for someone who knows about the culture, the work environment to pursue their goals, then to someone coming from an entirely different work environment and culture, to get the job that we all study for. But in the end, we find no difference as both local and international students get the jobs, based on their networks.
To get a foot in the SAP world is simpler than what we thought. In this world of information technology, people have forgotten the power of using social networks to get to their ideal employment role. Old school networking and the new social networking mediums are a perfect mix by which anyone can market and connect with people who matter.
Let us elaborate the time spent by two grad students Tom and Sam who are studying information systems and are aiming for the same goal, i.e. to get their dream job as an IS consultant. Both are good at academia and getting good grades, but the outcomes for both is quite different. But why would two people who possess the same set of skills and knowledge end up so different?
Watch the Prezi slides:
Personal brand and social media
Social media is all over the place and there is no escaping it, so you might as well learn to use it for your advantage for your personal brand! Now more than ever, employers are using social media to not only screen applicants, but to pursue for potential candidates.
Personal brand is something that people believed about you. It is working who you are and what makes you different in a way that resonates with people not just being different for the sake of being different. It is the first impression that you make when you walk into the room and its people say about you when you leave.
more about personal brand:
The Goggle Test
When a person applies for a role with limited or no experience, the most important thing is to give a good impression. The first impression is the CV, but if Tom and Sam both have an equally impressive CV, the thing that can help distinguish them from each other is the Digital Footprint. Now more than ever, the Google Test has enabled employers to obtain the personality and image of the applicant before that person is even offered an interview. This search is so important, that employers say that a person with a more agile digital presence would be considered above someone who has more experience but no digital or social presence online.
How important is it to know a person in your preferred role in your chosen organization before you apply for a role yourself? What role can a good referee play in getting you your dream job? The following statement is now truer than ever, ‘It is not about what you know. It’s about who you know’. Employers hire those applicants whom they can trust, who can fit into the organization’s culture and who are easy to talk to and be around. There are a number of platforms where you can meet these technical people and can make repute with them.
Professional networking events and social media
Networking Events involve groups of like-minded business people who come together to discuss and act upon business opportunities. These events are a great way of creating and increasing professional knowledge. Check online networking sites such as eventbrite.com to find the event that is of interest to you and good for your future. Also, this can be done by keeping you active during university; joining various communities/group which arrange such events.
Ice-Breaking at Networking Events
Good networking is about connection with others and the ability to be engaging. The first networking event can be nerve-wracking; however, there are a few points that can make networking easier and enjoyable.
- Be prepared and do some research on the potential guest speakers, the topic of interest and be up to date about current events.
- Ask for advice or information. Ask others if they have attended such an event before and what they thought about it and what did they found most helpful.
- Share your opinion. Most networking talk is generic and people tend not to share much. Remember by sharing knowledge, you gain knowledge.
- Ask Questions. People like to talk about themselves. Learn to ask great questions that encourage others to talk. Listening to peoples responses will make you ask more questions. Open- ended questions are best, e.g. Instead of asking ‘what do you do?’ Ask ‘How do you spend most of your time? Or what keeps you busy?’
- Follow up. After the Networking event, add names and contact information to an address book for future reference. Build good relationships and connect with people on LinkedIn. Twitter can be used to connect with people that you didn’t have a chance to meet. The speaker can be thanked and any insights can be shared across social networks.
Networking events are great. Be social, polite and courteous. Find common ground, relax, make a friend and have fun.
Ice- breaking at Interviews
Research – Find the name of the person who is going to interview you, then use online resources for information that maybe helpful in the interview. The person undertaking the interview may partake in social activities such as cycling or soccer and if this happens to be your past-time then it could be mentioned in the conversation. Making a connection in some way will prove to be valuable in enabling yourself to stand out from the crowd. Your networks inside the company plays an important role in this.
OpenSAP and OpenHPI platforms
If you are a professional or a student wanting to improve and deepen practical IT expertise and interested in acquiring the latest IT knowledge to advance in their career, then one of the best ways to do this, is to enroll in several free online courses such as OpenSAP and OpenHPI.
OpenSAP and OpenHPI have numerous open online courses which are intended to accommodate unlimited participants and which are accessible through the web. They consist of traditional course materials such as videos, readings, assignments and tests which can all be obtained and done online. Each course duration normally takes around 3-6 weeks that students need to follow and at the end of the course a test is given. Successful participants will receive a certificate of record of achievement which can then be added to your professional profile.
OpenSAP is provided by SAP and it focuses mainly on SAP’s new technology that is available in the market. OpenHPI is provided by Hasso Plattner Institute which focuses mainly in new developments within information technology. Both platforms enable you to have maximum flexibility to learn at your own convenient time.
They provide learners with an engaging and effective learning experience through gamification. This involves connecting you with other learners, teaching assistants, professors, ITgurus and SAP experts via collaborative forums which you can share and discuss ideas and knowledge. As a result can broaden up your professional networks and can get recognized by high executive spectators in the IT industry.
In conclusion, professional networking is tremendously different than it was 10 years ago. Technology has changed the approach and the manner in which employers select potential employees. The digital footprint can prove to be a milestone for recognition in professional circles. Agile presence is a huge factor in marketing yourself in today’s technologically connected world and may prove to be an invaluable step towards your dream role.
Muhammad Uzair Khan
Muhammad Waqas Siddiqui