Commercial awareness has become a buzzword over the last few years. Regardless of industry or sector, employers are keen to see that you understand and engage with the world outside of the university bubble. Here's how to improve your commercial awareness.
1. Stay switched on & up-to-date
It's easy in the midst of university life to forget about the outside world. However, staying up-to-date doesn't have to be laborious, nor does it mean reading the Financial Times cover to cover on a daily basis.
An excellent first port of call is Radio 4’s Today – their flagship news and current affairs programme. As well as telling you what’s happening in the world, this programme often sets the news agenda. It’s on from 6am until 9am, but with iPlayer, there’s no excuse for those of you who aren’t early risers.
Other programmes on Radio 4 to look out for are Evan Davis' business conversations programme, The Bottom Line - great for gaining insights into strategy and business and The Media Show – all about the fast-changing media world.
Another excellent tip is to sign up for Google Alerts for top companies and leaders so that you receive breaking news directly to your inbox.
2. Get to know the lingo, the companies and the experts
Every industry has a set of major players, commentators and industry experts. Do your research and get familiar with these so that you recognise key names and influencers.
One of the best ways in which you can get to grips with a particular sector is to join sector-focused university societies and/or commercial awareness clubs. Take advantage of what university can offer you - reading about news and current affairs is only one part of it – you need to get used to talking about it too and that’s where societies come in.
3. Listen to a commercial awareness podcast
Podcasts have increased in popularity in the past few years and are easy to access. We recommend "Thinking Commercially", Bright Network's own commercial awareness podcast in partnership with commercial awareness author, Christ Stoakes. Find it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts and get monthly updates on what's going on in business and industry.
4. Have a point of view
Knowing the facts about an industry is important but having a sound point of view on them will help you to stand out further.
Citing detailed regulatory changes is all well and good but what do you think it means for the industry? Is it good or bad and if you were CEO, what would you do?
Start applying a spot of analytical thinking – and you’ll soon find yourself becoming more informed.
5. Do it yourself - get some experience
One of the best ways to learn more about an industry is to work in it. Whether it's an insight day or a week-long placement, experience helps you to better understand how a company and sector works. In addition, you’ll strengthen your CV and start to identify whether you’re suited to and enjoy working in that industry.
6. Sign up to Bright Network's Commercial Awareness Update
Stay up to date with the main business and political stories each week by signing up to our Commercial Awareness Update. Bright Network members can update your profile and tick Commercial Awareness to receive the weekly roundup straight to you inbox.