8 Steps to Kickstart Your Management Career

8 Steps to Kickstart Your Management Career

Stephanie Lukins

Updated May 23, 2022 Updated May 23

Sponsored by University of York Management School

It’s no secret the graduate job market is a competitive one. If you’re someone who already knows your management potential, how can you ensure your chances of impressing are sky high?

We’ve teamed up with those in the know at the University of York Management School to find out more.

Study a degree in management

So this may very much be stating the obvious, but it’s true. A relevant degree is the quickest way to start a successful career in management. For example, the BA in Business and Management at York Management School offers a bespoke learning experience, where students are encouraged to tailor their degree to suit their personal interests and career aspirations.

First year students learn the main concepts and techniques that are used in business and management, including Solving International Management Problems, Behavior in Organizations and Foundations of Business Ethics.

During their second and final year, students can explore new areas of study and areas that really take their interest, such as Marketing Principles and Practice, Strategic Management and Society, as well as Managing and Leading Change.

A placement year can be critical 

Many degrees now offer the opportunity to undertake a placement year, which is essentially a year-long job. During the internship you will be given a real role with real responsibilities (and a real wage).

The skills you develop during an internship are essential, and not just for your career later down the line but also for when you return to complete your final year of studies.

“I chose to do a placement year so I could get experience working in a field that I might want to pursue a career in, in the future,” said Accounting, Business Finance and Management student Katy.

“I also liked the idea of challenging myself which being on placement would definitely do, and there were so many exciting opportunities out there that I knew I would have regretted not applying.”

While Laura Barker, a BA Business and Management student who undertook her placement year at Aldi told us: “An industrial placement allows you to understand which career path you want to take in the future and gives you an insight into full time employment.

“It’s also a great opportunity to earn some money!”

In fact, any work experience can be a great boost

Your part-time job at weekends or during the summer can also teach you a lot about what it’s like to get on the management career ladder.

Could you be honing your knowledge of leading a team as a front-of-house waiter/waitress? Or could you be getting sales experience in a retail store? What about developing your interpersonal and communication skills working for a local charity?

Although work experience may not have a direct link to the career path you want to pursue, it can still help you develop and recognize the many soft and hard skills that are highly sought-after in talented managers, no matter which sector you work in.

Know the type of job you want

You may not realize how many career paths you could go down when it comes to management but if you have at least some idea of the direction you’d like your career to go before you start sending off reams of applications then it can save you time, effort and disappointment later down the line.

Of course, many management graduates tend to find themselves starting off in an entry-level role, but with the right training and the right attitude, you’ll be climbing the ladder in no time.

The benefits of undertaking a placement year/internship are twofold. Not only does it give you a year to immerse yourself in a genuine workplace role where your industry skills and knowledge can really develop, but it can also show you what you may (or may not) like to do in the future.

“I feel more prepared for entering the workplace, but I'm more unsure of what I would like to do in the future than I was a year ago,” said Katy.

“I don't mind that too much though, as I'd rather have this uncertainty now rather than when I'm a year into a graduate scheme that I think isn't right for me.

“At least being unsure now gives me the chance to look into lots of different opportunities and make an informed decision about what the right next step is for me.”

Graduates at the University of York Management School have gone onto work as treasury dealers, graduate consultants, financial analysts, brand development executives as well as purchasing assistants.  

Network, network, network… and network a little bit more

Did we mention that networking is key? It’s more than just about making friends with your cohort. Your cohort are also the ones who can be the best contacts when it comes to job opportunities later down the line.

Your lecturers and professors are also valuable contacts – speak with them about your career aspirations and they might just be able to connect you with previous alumni or the ideal company who have the golden opportunity for you.

Make the most of your university’s career support services

Practically every university has a career services team, and this is something you should use to your advantage.

At York Management School, for example, students are able to drop in at the in-house specialist Careers and Employability Team and book one-to-one appointments to help you with applications, assessment centers, as well as mock interviews.

Perfect your highly valuable and transferable skillset

We’ve already highlighted how you can develop your skillset without even realizing it, but it’s important to keep those skills fresh and up to date.

Whatever managerial role you aspire to, you’re going to need a comprehensive knowledge of business, as well as the ability to make strategic decisions, assess budgets and manage projects.

This is where a placement year can also be very beneficial, as Laura explained: “Working at Aldi has developed my confidence, communication skills and decision-making ability.

“I’ve also realized the importance of target setting to achieve a range of business objectives.”

Whether you want to go into management consulting, investment management or project management, your critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills, plus your ability to negotiate and persuade, and manage and motivate a team along with maintaining positive employee relations are essential.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

You’ve landed your first job interview so now it’s time to ensure you’re as well prepared as possible. Doing mock interviews, practicing online assessments, and even talking to others who have been in your shoes and done it all before is a great way to get a feel for what to expect.

“I attended many careers events organized by the Careers and Employability Team that helped with aspects of the interview process such as psychometric testing and criteria-based interviewing,” said Laura.

“The team also explained the likely structure of the interview process and employer requirements.”

And remember, the interview is just as much about you interviewing them as them interviewing you. Asking questions demonstrates you’ve taken the time to consider particular aspects of the job and company.

If it doesn’t go your way the first time, don’t give up! If you got past the first round and attended an interview, ask if the recruitment manager can offer any feedback so you can make sure to work on your interview technique for the next time round.

Lead image credit: University of York Management School

This article was originally published in September 2019 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

As the sponsored content writer for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com , Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics. 

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