Date posted: 1/10/2019

Home and abroad: Shaun Moon on the value of real-world experience

We sit down with CA student rep, Shaun Moon, to talk about the value of work placements and international study experiences in skill-building.

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Shaun Moon is an undergraduate who knows the true meaning of making the most of one's studies. A commerce student majoring in Accounting at the University of Queensland (UQ), Shaun also works part-time for KPMG in external auditing, is a CA student rep, and a finalist for the Top 100 Future Leaders Competition 2019. 1

Having recently returned from a study abroad in South Korea, Shaun reflects on how his CA student rep and international study experiences have helped prepare him for his career after university.

Shaun Moon

A passion for business from the beginning

Intrigued by the business experience of some of his family members, Shaun developed a curiosity to follow a similar path from a young age. As he grew up, Shaun was able to observe business operations firsthand and understand the important role they play in society.

"I've always had an interest in how things work behind-the-scenes, and especially in business. Many of my family members have worked in various areas of business, and being able to see how they operated really sparked my interest," Shaun says.

At high school, Shaun's curiosity led him to accounting classes, where he was able to combine his talent with numbers with his growing passion for business.

"Taking accounting in high school was something I really enjoyed. Working with numbers and understanding how businesses operated really enhanced my interest in business and ultimately was an important factor behind my decision to pursue a career in accounting," Shaun recalls.

Now working for a large professional services firm, Shaun is enjoying the accounting stream of audit, in which he is exposed to a variety of learning opportunities.

"I've realised that audit is the particular stream of accounting I would love to keep pursuing. Not only do I get to work on different types of engagements, but I'm able to get a taste of different sectors and teams, all while working in a client facing role," Shaun says.

While he's pursuing a technical career, Shaun's interests also include more artistic pursuits such as photography. He believes it's important to find a sense of balance in life, and taking photos serves as his creative outlet.

"I think everyone needs something to relax their mind, to let creativity take over and think truly outside the box without rules or guidelines. This is what photography does for me," says Shaun.

Upskilling outside the lecture hall

Soon after starting university, Shaun discovered that becoming a CA student rep could open opportunities for growth - such as developing his soft skills, which are distinct from the technical skills and knowledge imparted by his degree - so he decided to apply.

"The most important part of education is having practical experience, and the CA student rep role provides so many opportunities to learn the soft skills that are necessary to not only succeed in the field of accounting, but wherever they may apply," Shaun says.

"Soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, don't only help you secure your first job, they help you excel in every role afterwards. As a rep, I needed to work in team environments and communicate with employers, tasks that require you to be not only a great communicator, but also a great listener. For me, attending networking events and talking to graduates, recruiters and other students has helped me develop these skills."

Building relationships and respecting differences

Recognising the valuable learning opportunity that studying abroad presents, Shaun recently completed a summer exchange program at Seoul National University.

"I was born in South Korea and moved to Australia when I was young, so I thought it would be a great destination for my exchange. I wanted to experience different teaching styles, a different country and way of life," says Shaun.

Building relationships with a wide range of people is a key part of studying abroad and Shaun believes the soft skills he developed as a rep played a large part in having a positive experience as an exchange student.

"One thing that helped me during my exchange program was the ability to effectively engage with other people and develop strong relationships. The friends you make on exchange enrich your entire experience, and without this skill that I gained as a rep, it wouldn't have been the same," Shaun explains.

The opportunity to recognise and adapt to cultural differences was a key lesson for Shaun while abroad, and one he says he will be able to look back on as he moves forward in his career.

"The most important lessons I've gained during my time in South Korea as an exchange student were learning to adapt to different cultures and respecting differences. I think this translates well into the work environment as people have different ways and styles of working and being able to adapt to that is an essential skill to have," says Shaun.

This real-world experience combined with the skills he's learned as a student rep, has helped Shaun gain confidence and feel more prepared to take the first steps in his career.

[1] https://employability.uq.edu.au/article/2019/03/future-leaders-finalist-says-it%E2%80%99s-all-about-soft-skills

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