Having worked as a pharmacist for four years, UNSW Business School alumnus David Lai felt that it was time for a career change.
Passionate about the world of product marketing from his experience behind the pharmacy counter, David enrolled in a Master of Commerce degree specialising in Marketing at UNSW Business School, to develop expert skills and make industry connections.
Value the friendships you build in your classroom community
While it can be daunting to change careers and return to university to study a completely new field, David found a quick solution to this.
As a firm advocate of networking and making new connections, he proactively reached out to people to start building his professional network within his first few weeks at UNSW Business School.
"What I want you to do is look left and right and introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. It was the people in my classroom who helped me with my career and got me to where I am today.
"I was able to embrace the practical knowledge on topics such as brand management from people in my class. Some of them already have businesses so I was able to better understand concepts through their experiences.
"You will learn from other people's experiences and this will push you further in your career – all whilst making your experience at UNSW more enjoyable."
Networking with peers can start as early as Orientation week to working on group projects. You can also engage with lecturers, clubs and societies, industry guests and other professionals you meet at UNSW throughout the duration of your degree.
"It can be very challenging to get to where you want to be all by yourself. So really latch on to the relationships you make with your peers during your time at UNSW," he says.
Meet more people and expand your professional network with the UNSW alumni community by signing up for the 'Career Accelerator: Essentials' program where you will be able to access opportunities for internships, mentoring, networking as well as global opportunities.
What's it like studying at UNSW?
A tip about life as a postgraduate student – know what you want to do and do your research.
"Read the course outline, find out which assessments are coming up and learn more about your lecturers and what their specialisation is. I chose the courses that I was really interested in and it motivated me to succeed," he says.
"One course that changed my life and many students would agree, was COMM5010: Strategy, Marketing and Management.
"This course doesn't tell you how to become smarter. Instead, it teaches you how to become a better manager, how to understand people, how to really excel as an individual and know the next steps that you need to take in your career."
A year later, this was reflected in David's performance at work when he won the 'Best Data-Driven Marketing Campaign' title at the 2019 PRIME Awards – an award that recognises excellence within the Australian pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. David's team was rewarded for demonstrating "strong evidence of genuine financial benefits both to pharmacists and patients."
To this day, David is still connected with his lecturers and classmates from COMM5010 through LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
"It's been a year since I've graduated and I am so grateful that UNSW has given me the opportunity to switch careers from pharmacist to marketer," he says.
His proactive participation in various professional development activities at UNSW ultimately equipped him with the required experience, skills and knowledge to excel in a marketing role.
David is now a Product Manager at global pharmaceutical company Mylan – the same industry, but driving purposeful no longer standing behind the counter.
Explore our selection of postgraduate coursework degrees to further develop your business acumen or to help launch your career in a new direction.