Michaela Kennedy, graduate, Bachelor of Applied Management

Michaela Kennedy's choice of majors while studying the Bachelor of Applied Management at Ara have paid real career dividends for the talented young professional.

Having focused her degree on human resources and sales and marketing, she is now using both skill sets to great effect in her role as a digital recruitment consultant for global agency Nakama in Sydney.

Michaela's current role followed a 10-month stint with Christchurch-based digital innovators hairyLemon – a role she was recommended for by Ara marketing tutor, Linda McKitterick.

"It was a fantastic start to my career," Michaela says.  "It gave me a lot of business confidence and commercial acumen and also helped me discover my passion for the creative and digital world. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now if it wasn't for the support of Ara and the relationship with hairyLemon."

At Nakama, Michaela's role involves placing talented digital specialists into new roles they can be passionate and happy in.

"I love my job as it marries both parts of my degree - the HR side and the sales and marketing - with my experience in digital," she explains. "It really is the best of both worlds. I like to think of myself not as a recruiter or salesperson, but as a relationship manager who works hard to understand my clients and candidates, and find the perfect match."

Michaela believes her degree, especially its practical content, prepared her well for her career. "I was given real work experience and that set me up to succeed in my career by giving me a head start and my first step into the business world."

Michaela says her tutors believed in her and encouraged her to push herself. "Despite the disruption of the Christchurch earthquakes I completed my degree in two and a half years, instead of three. That taught me that if I could get through that and do well, I could do anything."

Michaela's effort and dedication was recognised with two awards. In 2013 she was named Ara's top performing student for strategic marketing and top performing student overall in sales and marketing.

Looking to the future, Michaela says she can see herself always being involved in helping people with their careers. "And I would love to do some teaching at some stage too, to pass on what I've learned."