Caitlin Gunasekara

The flexibility and variety of the BCom gave Caitlin the transferable skills she needed to enter the workforce.

Caitlin Gunasekara

Key facts

  • Career: Implementation Consultant, ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll
  • Programme: Bachelor of Commerce 
  • Majors: Commercial Law and Marketing

Why a BCom?

"I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in high school, so I came to the University’s Open Day. I went to the mock lectures at the Business School and thought they were all really interesting, so I decided to do a Bachelor of Commerce.

"I actually started off wanting to major in Accounting and Finance, but when I did the core Accounting course in my first year, I realised it was not for me.

"I think having the first-year of core courses is really helpful because it gives you a taste of everything, and then you can choose from there. That’s actually how I figured out how I wanted to major in Commercial Law – I did the core course and I really enjoyed it and found it really applicable to real life.

"With Commercial Law you kind of think ‘well, you're not actually a lawyer. So what are you going to do with it?’ But there's a lot of career opportunities, and I probably find it's the major I use the most with my career.

The BCom is really good at giving you that overall skill set you need when entering the workforce – everything I've learned at university has had some impact at one of my roles.

Real-life relevance

"I am able to apply a lot of what I've learned in my degree in both my personal and professional life – for example, knowing your employee rights. When I was self-employed I was able to use what I had learned at university about employment law to set myself up as self-employed.

"And from having Marketing as my second major, I was able to learn how to manage relationships, communicate with customers and about the psychology of consumers. And in the working world, you're dealing with people all the time, whatever your role may be, so it was really useful.

"Even other courses I took which were outside of my majors were helpful. I did Information Systems courses, which really came in handy because I work in tech now. I even remember going through and doing Excel and HTML practice in my courses, which is really helpful to my role now. I also own shares in the company I work for, and I only know how to manage that because I did relevant financial markets courses at university.

Transferable skills

"I also learned so many transferrable skills through my degree which I have been able to use in my work – communication skills, relationship building, time management, prioritisation, teamwork and so much more. I found the BCom was really good at just giving you that overall skill set that you need when you enter the workforce. Everything I've learned at university has had some impact at one of my roles.

Kickstarting a career

"I used university to figure out what I would do career-wise. The Bachelor of Commerce is great because it's such a versatile degree and you get to learn a lot about a number of topics.

"I also went to networking events and learned about different jobs and roles. I actually started off my career through an employer engagement event at the Business School. I started talking to an employee of Sidekicker and got a role there and then worked my way up. They found me a role when I graduated from university, too. It’s how I wound up working in HR/recruitment as a career.

"Currently, I'm an Implementation Consultant for an HR software company. This means that once the sale of the software is made, I will take over and implement the software for that customer.

"The role really appealed to me because it has a lot of project management as well as people management. I like working with clients and it's cool to work with people from all different kinds of industries and learn about what they're doing in their companies and roles.

"I really like my current role, and where my career is as a whole. I hope to develop and get leadership roles in the future. New Zealand has a lot of opportunity in my particular industry, so I hope to keep learning and work my way up.

Caitlin’s advice

"When I left high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do. So don't be scared of not knowing what you want to do, because things may change as you go, and you'll find different interests and passions.

"I think the Bachelor of Commerce is really good for figuring out what you want to do because it’s flexible. And with your first year, you can experience the different majors and figure out what you enjoy. And then by the end of the degree, you've got all these skills, which can then be transferred to almost anything.

Don’t stress about having things all figured out – things can change. It’s a time to see what you like and what you're interested in.

"Try and gain as much knowledge as you can from the degree. Do things like attending networking events and build your contacts.

"Don’t stress about having things all figured out – things can change. It’s a time to see what you like and what you're interested in – things will work themselves out from there.

"I feel like even at 26, I'm still figuring out life. If I was to look back at university, I had so much time to figure things out. I think when you’re finishing high school, you think you have to have things figured out, but the reality is that you don't, really. Do what you want to do, and as long as you have a vague general direction, you'll find your feet."