Finding a job without work experience can be tricky, but there are ways around it - including using your course work to demonstrate your ability.
This is exactly what Vimean Bunleng did when she applied for a role at New Zealand fresh produce supplier, Fresh Direct. With no formal work experience, she was able to draw on the practical project work she’d completed at Unitec to secure a role.
“I completed a Bachelor of Business at Unitec, majoring in Operations Management. In our Level 7 Applied Operations paper we were asked to complete a group assignment for a real company, and my group of six were given a project for Gilmours Mt Roskill - investigating stock discrepancies in their frozen and chilled section.”
By looking at Gilmours’ data and observing their inbound delivery process, Vimean and the team were able to identify the cause of the problem, propose and implement a solution - one that Gilmores continues to use today. She says it not only allowed her to apply her course work to a real life situation, but armed her with valuable experience she could draw upon in a job interview.
“After completing my degree, I was introduced to the GM of Fresh Direct through my Applied Operations lecturer, Sanjeev Ranganathan. He agreed to meet me even though they didn’t have any specific roles available at the time. I tailored my presentation on the Gilmours work to fit Fresh Direct, and after seeing it they were willing to give me a chance.
“I firmly believe that being able to talk about my project experience was crucial. It showed I could apply the knowledge I’d gained in my course to benefit an organisation, and that I could take a problem and work it through to a practical resolution. It also demonstrated my ability to get along with others and work in a team.”
Vimean was offered the role of Operations Coordinator and started in April this year.
“Essentially, I look at how Fresh Direct can streamline their processes. I work closely with the pack house manager, out on the floor, dealing with inventory, problem solving and compliance issues. Being new to the industry, I’m interested in exploring as many aspects of the company as I can, and the team has been so supportive and open-minded.”
Vimean says she is proof that, while work experience is important, you can certainly apply the practical content of your studies to demonstrate your skills when job hunting.
“My advice for students looking for a job is to show a potential employer what you’ve got! Find any relevant project you’ve worked on during your course and prepare yourself to talk about it - tailor it to fit the organisation you’re meeting or the role you’re going for. You can also use your course experience to show you have a practical approach to work and a flexible, can-do attitude - which I believe are skills any employer is looking for.
“Secondly, don’t be afraid to try. I applied to many places before getting my role at Fresh Direct, so don’t be scared to put yourself out there and give it a go!”