Learning from the hidden gems

By Alejandra Gallegos Rivera

Some students know exactly what they want to do long before they finish their studies. For others, being open to different opportunities can help them find their dream job.

Bachelor of Commerce alumna, Elizabeth Smith, espoused this flexible mindset, making the most of every opportunity and following her passions. Two years after graduation, Elizabeth finds herself immersed in the beauty industry from MECCA Brands vibrant head office in Richmond.

When Elizabeth, recipient of the Premier Fruits Group First in the Family Scholarship, began her studies, she was uncertain of what she wanted from her career. She had clarity about one thing, making the most of the experience and all the opportunities available to her. She became a Student Ambassador in the first year of her Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree, signed up for the BCom Network Mentor program and enrolled in a number of overseas subjects. All of this, helped to broaden her view of the world.

“I really gained a lot from my time studying overseas. I did a summer semester in South Korea and a BCom subject in Taiwan. I'm still friends with people that I met there, and the things that I learned about the world, about sales, marketing, and economics stuck with me. I got to learn just how the world and cultures operate, looking at it on a bigger scale. It really, I think, opened my eyes to understanding people a bit more, and how we all kind of fit together.”

But Elizabeth was still struggling to map out her career path. Looking back, she identifies a significant turning point.

“My mentor, Michael Magelakis advised me to pick five different industries that appealed to me, and to check out companies within those industries. It was so valuable to write this down because it really made me research where I thought my interests lay and get an understanding of the type or organisation I wanted to work in. Once I had identified companies within my top five industries, I started looking for opportunities.”

Elizabeth Smith

- Elizabeth Smith 

MECCA was right at the top of her list, and, once she graduated, she was lucky enough to get an internship tailored for her where she got to work in the Digital Marketing team, the area that she was most interested in. As part of her experience, she had the chance to work in store and do rotations between different departments at MECCA’s head office, offering her the chance to see the different opportunities she could have. Shortly after that, she got offered a role as MECCA’s Signature Line Inventory Coordinator, a field she didn’t have on her mind when she first started as an intern. Now, more than a year later, she’s enjoying her role overseeing production and stock holdings of the brand’s Signature Line products.

Elizabeth’s case is the perfect example of how great opportunities can appear along the way and she advises other undergraduate students to always be flexible when it comes to making career plans.

“You may have a goal, or a job you want that you see as a pathway into a certain career, but have your plans set it jelly. There's nothing stopping you from trying a hundred other things along the way before you get there, and you'll be so much better for it. Never be discouraged when you look at what other people are doing, and don’t worry, because everyone has their own path and every path is special. If I thought that all I wanted to do was digital marketing, then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work in store and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to work in product development which is where I am at now, and I love what I do.”

It’s often difficult to take your time and experience different options but Elizabeth believes that having the will to try out different things will pay off in the future.

“I think the Lizzie that started in uni 4 years ago didn't really know how much the world had to offer. There are so many job opportunities that you won’t be told about and there are industries that are never really talked about. But they're out there. I feel like you can learn so much more from the hidden gems than the things you see.”