How important is it for students to research employers when applying for positions?
Essential! When we hire, we are searching for students who love our business as much as we do. We search for students who embody our values, are excited by our products and understand our strategy. Researching a company also helps students understand they types of organisations they want to work for as well as understand how they might be able to structure their future career. Selling your desire to work for a company in an interview is essential to setting yourself apart from your competition. You can only do this if you know the business from your research.
Gaining relevant experience while studying can be difficult, what’s you advice to students in terms of building experience?
Getting your foot in the door can be challenging, but experience comes in many different forms. Luckily employers understand the value that can be gained from voluntary work, university run programs and working in areas like retail whilst studying. Taking on positions of responsibility for volunteering or community groups is widely recognised in industry as a way to develop skills such as leadership and team work. Some volunteering and university opportunities can even help you build contacts into the types of business and sectors you want to work. Lets not forget that working and studying at the same time also helps you develop your prioritising and organising skills, so make sure you don’t leave these off your resume.
Are there particular skills you feel will be valuable to your industry in the future, due to changing/evolving environments?
Keeping up to date with technology is essential. Students often don’t realise how important the basic skills such as Excel, PowerPoint and SAP etc. are to their careers later on. Students also need to learn how to tailor communications. Email is incredibly helpful but can often cause confusion or create challenges. Learning how to tailor communications and to understand cultural niceties is becoming increasingly important.
How do you support your new staff in terms of career planning? Do you offer career progression guidance, mentor programs, etc?
All staff have an online career profile and work with their managers to create their long-term career plan. Mentoring programs are available to everyone and of course, the human resources team are on hand to help with all career planning, progression and learning questions that arise. Caterpillar also helps you create your own career path with access to online courses and internal study options to learn about different departments and positions. Caterpillar also uses internal staff run networks to provide additional learning opportunities to everyone.
What do you see as being the benefits of joining relevant student groups and professional associations?
From making industry connections to showing business that you are passionate about your chosen field, there is no end to the benefits of joining student groups. Groups are essential to helping you develop basic networking, communication and organising skills. Professional associations are helpful for some careers, but you need to select which groups or associations are the best fit for your long-term career goals.