The Graduate Panel - Sydney June 09

Posted by Daniel Purchas

Last Friday lunch time, Dave and I attended the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) Sydney graduate panel. The session had a good turn out with around 40 people attending from around 20 25 graduate employers as well as a scattering of various suppliers to the graduate recruitment industry. The AAGE runs the graduate panel sessions at least twice a year and I had missed the last one which was at the annual conference in November last year.

The Lunch

Seeing as this was a lunch time session, I better cover the important things first. The catering was pretty good with an interesting selection of sandwiches containing such tasty fillings like prawn and avocado as well as chicken, cranberry and brie and there was also a good selection of biscuits and fruit so thanks a lot to the Reserve Bank for hosting the session and putting on a good spread.

The Panel

The grad panel session is an interesting concept; five different AAGE member organisations participate by providing one of their recently recruited graduates to field questions from the audience about their experiences finding a graduate position and what life has been like after starting work. The Sydney panel was made up of grads from the following firms:

  • Accenture (IT Graduate)
  • Commonwealth Bank (Marketing Graduate)
  • GHD (Civil Engineering Graduate)
  • OneSteel (HR Graduate)
  • Reserve Bank of Australia (IT Graduate)

The Questions

Numbers of applications made and offers received: There was a wide range of extremes on the number of applications the grads had made and the number of offers they had received. One grad had made 55 applications all carefully tracked in a spreadsheet in order to receive 2 offers whereas another grad had made only 3 applications in total but received offers from all 3 companies. Sources used in the graduate job hunt: The graduates all seemed to have used the internet as a primary job hunting tool. Search engines played a big part in discovering and researching graduate employers. The graduate who had 2 years of prior commercial work experience seemed to be the only one who heavily used job boards as a resource. Impact of the GFC on graduate recruitment: this question was inevitable but the reality was that the GFC has no impact on this intake of graduates as when they were being recruited early in 2008 the economy was still going strong and the GFC had not fully developed into what it is today. It will be interesting to see what next year's graduates have to say about it though. Did you feel that you had enough prior knowledge or experience to start your graduate role: Most of the graduates on the panel said that they had all had previous relevant work experience in their chosen fields and this was the key factor that had helped them to quickly get up to speed once they joined the workforce permanently as a graduate. It's a bit of a no brainer but previous work experience is potentially one of the key factors that will determine how quickly they will adjust to working life at your organisation. There was a scattering of other questions throughout the session but one I found interesting 'how do you feel about psychometric testing as part of the assessment process?' which apart from one of the grads they all expected and were comfortable with, although a further point was that the purpose of the testing did need to be explained to the candidates sitting them to give some meaning to the process.

The Verdict

Overall it was an interesting experience and if you are in the graduate recruitment field I'd recommend that you make an effort to attend these events once a year. You get to see five of Australia's larger graduate employers bring a showcase of their top graduates for public scrutiny. If you are interested in attracting these graduates to your organisation it will provide you with a good insight into what these graduates are thinking. If you attended an AAGE Graduate Panel session let us know what you thought, and if you are interested in attending these events in the future you may want to investigate becoming and AAGE member as attendance for members to these events is free.


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