It’s a competitive world for business graduates looking for work out there today.
For many businesses hiring at entry-level, it’s no longer enough to finish your course with just a certificate. According to a recent survey of Australian employers, they’re looking for graduates who can bring diverse experiences and ‘soft skills’ into their role.
The question is: how do you gain this ‘edge’ while still studying?
A year ago, Lee Buckley (Learning Facilitator in the Business Postgraduate Programs at Torrens University) asked herself how she could help to solve this dilemma for some of her students.
“I am passionate about learning and development, particularly in the soft skills areas such as communication and leadership. It gives me a great sense of achievement to help others grow and develop their confidence (and myself as well along the way!)” – Lee Buckley
Looking around for a solution, Lee came across Toastmasters International business club and had her own ‘eureka’ moment.
Why not take advantage of the huge training and development infrastructure already out there? If Lee were to start the first Toastmasters club at Torrens, students could access all the benefits of this established international community!
And so, with support from some other hard-working Torrens staff, the Toastmasters @ Torrens club was born.
What is the ‘Toastmasters Club?’
Toastmasters International is a large, non-profit international organisation that helps members to develop ‘soft skills’ such as communication and leadership, through participation in their training programs, activities and networks. Through Toastmasters’ ‘Pathways’ education program, students can develop a broad range of skills that are important in many business contexts.
The organisation has been around for more than three decades, during which time they’ve grown a long list of celebrated alumni, including political figures, actors and speech-writers. There are currently 357,000 members in 16,600+ clubs across 143 countries worldwide.
“We formed Toastmasters @ Torrens club a year ago with the aim of providing a supportive and positive learning experience for all who join. Members are empowered to gain greater self-confidence and personal growth, through communication and leadership skills development.
Club membership is open to all Torrens University Australia students, alumni and staff. Students can be involved through club officer roles, events, and attendance at regular meetings.” – Lee Buckley
Why should students consider joining a club like Toastmasters @ Torrens?
Any extra curricular activity you take on is going to require more time out of your week. But, as research demonstrates, the benefits of joining a club far outweigh any time costs.
Here are 5 reasons why joining a club can help kick-start your career when you graduate.
1. Professional networking
A recent survey even found that 85% of jobs are filled via networking. If you want to expand your networks, choose a club that’s big, professional, industry connected and international. Having access to an international network of mentors, peers, and alumni via online collaboration is going to be invaluable when it comes to finding a job.
2. Build self-confidence and become your best self
There are many different ways in which getting involved in a club, society or community activity have been shown to boost self-confidence, and help you to grow as a person.
- You’re engaging in collaboration and communication with others towards a goal, which forces you to be patient, reflective, and analytical.
- You receive acknowledgment and praise for your efforts well as essential feedback on areas that you need to improve.
- You’re able to try challenging new things such as public speaking, in a supportive environment
3. Practising ‘soft skills’
We’ve all heard how important ‘soft skills’ are, but the tricky part is getting the chance to develop and practise them in a structured way. Business clubs such as Toastmasters develop activities and education programs around the conscious development of these skills.
Toastmaster’s @ Torrens, for example, offers students opportunities to learn and exercise soft skills such as:
- Speech writing and public speaking
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Leadership skills
- Creative problem solving
- Communication and active listening
4. Access resources and get practical career help
Business clubs often offer opportunities for mentorship, as well as training and resources on the practical skills you need to get your career started.
Toastmasters International, for example, has a range of online resources on topics such as ‘how to speak to an audience.’ The Pathways program also includes practical training in areas such as resume writing, interview preparation, and project management.
5. You can put it in your resume, of course!
During your time with a club, you can work in a range of different roles, from finance to communications. You can include these different roles in your resume, and talk about them in your job interviews!
Another one of the lesser-known perks of club membership is… the awards! Most clubs have an awards system you can participate in. Toastmasters International provides certificates of achievement, as well as official letters to employers. It’s an important way to have your achievements formally recognised, and it looks great to anyone hiring.
See here for more information about business courses on offer at Torrens University.