23 January 2019

My Job Smart experience

Arriving in a different country is always accompanied by its share of challenges. The decision to come to Australia for my Masters has been a hugely gratifying experience, but there have been some very challenging situations that demanded extreme use of my abilities and patience.

For instance, finding a platform to learn the practical aspects of a particular field can be very challenging, especially when you're in an altogether different country where making contacts and networking requires great effort, both physical and mental. Even a single opportunity can be very rewarding in such cases. Job Smart helped me immensely by providing such opportunities.

My primary reason for joining Job Smart was to gain relevant practical experience and become comfortable in a professional setting. Though I have been a professional in Accounting & Finance for over 3 years now, I believe that the scope to learn and grow is unlimited and to find a platform like Job Smart was indeed very reassuring.

The opportunities that Job Smart provides are very resourceful with respect to my Majors and have helped me understand concepts more deeply. After successfully completing Phase 2 of Job Smart, I got to be a part of Global Scope Program which was my first ever relevant Australian work experience.

The best part was getting to know professionals and their way of working in the industry. Interacting with like-minded people, discussing ideas with those who had different viewpoints, and communicating outside my immediate circle has allowed me to become more expressive and develop the art of understanding different theories and making others understand mine, which enabled me to be a great team player. The most important lesson I learned during the Job Smart program was the importance of working as a team and keeping the team’s interest first.

Phase 3 of Job Smart is, in my opinion, the the greatest benefit and challenge as it takes you through the entire process of applying for your dream job, equipping you with the skills required for it. The icing on the cake is that if you do well and are consistent, you get a chance to undertake a 3-month internship in your relevant field (I am due to start mine this summer).

I would like to encourage other students to join Job Smart for the reason that the opportunities provided will certainly prove to be very useful. In addition, be sure to capitalise on every chance to refine your knowledge and skills because the market is a competitive one and the person who keeps up with it is ultimately rewarded.

Written by Harshita Sharma

15 November 2018

What did we make of the US Study Tour experience?

Casting back to why I chose to do the US Study Tour, I had several reasons in mind. It was an opportunity to develop my entrepreneurial thinking and apply design thinking to solve real problems. I had also always wanted to travel to the US where the culture and the way of doing business, especially in the start-up space, is well ahead of its times. With ‘entrepreneur’ being a buzzword on the radar of many, the tour reaffirmed it will remain a permanent fixture in our vocabulary.

A highlight was the North American Alumni Association meet-up event, where we had the chance to speak to a diverse group of University of Sydney alumni. They had a wealth of experiences and advice to share with us eager-to-hear students. For me, the conversations drifted to the value an international experience brings to an individual’s development, from which I realised just how far my personal and professional skills had grown over the tour.

Since finishing the tour, there has been ample opportunities for me to apply what I’ve learnt to my current projects and future career plan. I’ve also spoken to my peers from the program about their thoughts. We hope you will be inspired to apply for the US Study Tour, a Work Integrated Learning Program of the Careers and Employability Office (CEO), or even consider the opportunity to incorporate an international experience into your degree.

Georgetown University
NYU Stern Business School

“A reason behind my motivation to do the US Study Tour was to be surrounded by people who are just as passionate about design thinking and entrepreneurship. This was a unique experience - one where I met many different people, worked together on developing an innovative fintech product, and developed my problem-solving skills.” - Hanyuan Ding

“The US Study Tour sounded like a fantastic opportunity to engage in design thinking and consulting as well to gain international experience in my degree. The presentation and pitching skills I’ve gained were the most valuable part of the experience. The learning opportunities and innovative teaching styles at NYU Stern Business School and Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business have broadened my future career plans.”- Claudia Silvia

View from BCG Digital Ventures' New York office

“I enjoyed the scope for creativity provided by the program. We were given free reign over the theme of our innovation project, and had considerable freedom regarding our approach to the task. For instance, my team and I chose Education Technology because of our shared passion for delivering better educational experiences and outcomes. We were also provided ample free time to explore the city. I gained so many new and unforgettable experiences, such as walking the Brooklyn Bridge, going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and walking through Times Square. Moreover, we had the opportunity to meet various industry professionals from BCG Digital Ventures, American Natural History Museum, and Sparks & Honey, all of whom offered valuable guidance on our project and career goals.” - Grace Qiu

The American Natural History Museum

“I highly recommend my fellow peers to give the US Study Tour a go. Not only is the travelling itself some of the most fun you’ll have in your time at university, the knowledge and experience gained is invaluable. You will come back with more options than you had before and will be able to visualise an exciting career for yourself out of university. The inspiration and motivation is insane, and that singlehandedly led me to start my own business only a few weeks after I got back, demonstrating how practical the knowledge you gain is, and how motivating the experience is as well.” - Lewis Ulm

A group photo taken in Washington

On behalf of the 2018 US Study Tour cohort, we want to say a big thank you to the partner universities, NYU Stern Business School and Georgetown McDonough School of Business, who have been so welcoming and insightful with the expertise they have given us on design thinking. Also to BCG Digital Ventures, here in Sydney and their New York Head Office, for showing us into your profession and your innovative ways of thinking. And of course, we extend our thanks to Dimitria Groutis, our unit co-ordinator, and Trena Blair for helping to organise and facilitate the activities, and for the wonderful people, organisations and experiences they exposed us to.

Written by Anna Wang

7 November 2018

My Industry Placement Program experience

Why did you apply for the Industry Placement Program (IPP)?

The main reason that I applied for the IPP was to gain practical experience in financial advisory. I strongly believe that you never truly understand the culture of an industry and whether it is the right fit for you until you’ve experienced it first-hand. As such, I perceived the IPP as an opportunity to further explore my finance major and understand which potential careers in finance were the right fit for me, if any at all.

How did you prepare for your IPP application?

Throughout my first year, I was fortunate enough to have exposure to a number of recruitment processes when applying for vacation programs. As such, I was familiar with what each stage in the recruitment process entailed and formed the belief that practice makes perfect. For instance, I knew that video interviews were my weak point, so I created my own mock interviews by recording myself and reviewing the delivery of my responses. In my first year, when I had no exposure to the recruitment process, the assessment centre workshop and one-to-one consultations offered by the Careers and Employability Office (CEO) were very helpful in preparing me for the daunting task that can be the recruitment process.

What has your IPP experience been like so far?

My IPP experience has been invaluable in enhancing my knowledge of the finance industry and growing my professional network. In particular, I have had the opportunity to work on stock recommendations in Wilsons’ research team and am currently working in the corporate finance team. Each of these teams have been extremely welcoming and have provided me with relevant work that has given me an insight into what a career in finance would entail. 

What has been a highlight of IPP for you?

This is a really tough question to answer given how many highlights I can think of. But, if I had to pick one, it would probably be my first month of the internship, which coincided with ‘reporting season’. This meant that I was attending numerous investor pretentions held by the CEOs and CFOs of ASX listed companies in Wilsons’ board room and had the opportunity to chat to them about their plans for FY19 – a very memorable experience.

Why should students do IPP and how should they prepare?

The IPP is an invaluable opportunity to get a foot in the door quite early on in your professional life and it enables you to connect what you learn at university to real-life practice. It should also provide greater clarity of where you want your career to go as you build relationships with the people around you. In terms of preparing for your placement, I think the advice and resources provided by the IPP unit coordinators and the CEO are extremely helpful when forming expectations about the internship and devising strategies to maximise the experience.

Written by Jay Singh

22 October 2018

Going googly for Google

Hear from three of our students about a recent visit to Google's Sydney headquarters.

Serena Gao

Braving the high winds, heavy rain, and the terrifying prospect of riding the Sydney light rail, we arrived at the Fairfax Media building, which doubles as the engineering building for Googlers. And yes, Google knows how to make an impression. The first thing we saw when we exited the lifts was the enormous games room, filled with video game consoles, arcade machines, and neon lights.

We were corralled into a room covered with wallpapers of a slightly pixelated Bondi Beach, where several Googlers talked to us about the GMS (Google Marketing Solutions) team and the recruitment process. One huge piece of advice that I completely didn’t expect: don’t be afraid to showcase what you’re passionate about, because that’s a huge part of your identity and you shouldn’t have to detach yourself from it at work.
Google really cultivates that sense of community, and it’s clear in everything that they do. Walking around the office, there are “micro-kitchens” stocked with snacks and the quintessential coffee machine for you and your colleagues to chat over. Games room, puzzle room, billiards room, music room, dance room: there’s something for everyone, and you’re actively encouraged to mingle over new or favourite activities. The Googlers are friendly, the colours are bright, the overall atmosphere is buzzing with creativity and energy.

And sure, we marvel at the high-tech products, the fantastic decor, and the infinite amount of food, but at the very heart of it, it’s the people that make the company so fantastically brilliant. People made all these things happen, and Google values its people above all else.
I’m incredibly thankful to the Careers Office for organising this trip because now I have a better idea of what I want out of my career and I feel like my options have branched out. I hope there’s many more trips like these on the future (hint hint)!
The big takeaway of this experience? Get you a company that values you as a person, not a position.

Kim Nguyen

On Friday 5th October, I had the opportunity to visit Google under the ANZ Talent Program and immerse myself into the organisation. Although we had a rainy start (blame the Sydney weather!), we began the day with talks from current Googlers on what a work day in their life is like. We got to hear from Googlers who work with small and large scale businesses, Google ads, and how Google products have revolutionised business promotion and advertising. 

After listening to the panel of Googlers, we had the amazing opportunity to tour the Google Sydney office. The significant focus that Google places upon the cultivation of a positive workplace culture is evident through the office itself — walls splashed with different colours, nap rooms for employees to rest in, yoga and handstand classes, a hidden room only accessible by pushing a particular book and an unlimited snack bar. The day ended off with a delicious lunch of rump steak, roasted potatoes, frittatas, and ice-cream in the cafeteria.
Although every part of the day was amazing and out of this world, the highlight of the event for me was being able to converse with the Googlers and hear about how much they loved working at Google. They were all genuinely passionate about the organisation and what it did, and emphasised the inclusiveness and diversity of working at Google.
A section of the day was also dedicated to providing us with tips on how to boost our future job applications and interviews. My take-home tips included focusing on creating a short and concise resume that emphasised my most important qualities, and taking advantage of every resource or opportunity given to me. The Careers and Employability Office (CEO) was definitely one of the resources that popped into mind when we discussed this since it’s such an important and completely accessible job resource for USYD students.
This learning experience definitely made me consider a career at Google, especially due to the great deal of focus that they place upon their employees and employee wellbeing. Google spotlights diversity and inclusiveness in their organisation and hearing from the Googlers solidified this fact. More organisations are now dedicating a larger proportion of their resources to cultivating a positive workplace culture, and it would be rewarding to be engaged with an organisation that excels in this area and has been doing this for a long time. Thank you to everyone who made this day and experience possible!

Angus Thatcher

To start our Google visit, Georgia (a Googler from the Recruitment team) introduced us to Google’s unique culture; highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion within the organisation. She emphasised that the foundations of Google’s culture are centred around accepting people for who they are and subsequently creating a supportive environment that encourages individuality. 

Following this, we met Jordan, a member of the Google Marketing Solutions (GMS) Team, who primarily deals with small to medium businesses, to help create and build online traffic for them. This was particularly interesting for me personally as I am studying a Commerce degree and prior to this visit, believed the stereotype that Google was almost entirely technology and coding based. However, Georgia and Jordan made it clear that there are plenty of teams at Google that are not just technology based. In addition, they also emphasised the unique mobility opportunities at Google such as their “Bungeeing program” which allows employees to work in a completely different team for a specified period of time.  

We then met three more Googlers, who discussed their insights and experiences at Google and showed us around the offices. One of these Googlers studied a History Degree at university and stressed that you don’t need to be studying Software Engineering or Commerce etc. to work at Google. This was incredibly eye opening for me and I think is a message that many university students need to be aware of so that they do not dismiss applying to work for companies, such as Google, just because their degree and knowledge does not match their stereotypical image of a Googler being a technology expert.
Georgia shared her advice on resumes. She stressed that the “must haves” include: education (degrees, majors/minors, GPA, studies abroad), experience (past jobs, dates), leadership/extracurricular activities, and that your resume should be no more than two pages overall (at least at this point in our career). This was one of the main highlights for me and is invaluable knowledge that I will be applying to future job applications and interviews.

Finally, I would like to personally thank the Careers and Employability Office (CEO) for organising this day for us. I would not have been able to be part of such an enriching and invaluable experience without their incredible efforts. I highly encourage students to seek out information from the CEO team and get involved in the numerous events that they host throughout the year as this could ultimately lead to opportunities that could kick-start their career in one way or another.

12 October 2018

Don't judge a country by its label: Made in China

Visiting the Coalface of Production

We all hear about China and its significance to global business in trade, manufacturing and e-commerce; but when I saw these themes in action when I recently visited China as part of my undergraduate studies in business it changed my understanding of business.

During the China Future of Business Study Tour, I had a rare opportunity to explore the theoretical and practical aspects of Chinese business. This was most evident when as I visited KingClean, the largest vacuum cleaner manufacturer in the world.

The first China Future of Business Study Tour group

This was a cathartic moment for me, because I was able to see factory workers at the coalface of production as they quickly screwed individual bolts into mechanical items piece-by-piece, assembling vacuum cleaners, and at various stations throughout the factory. My reactions were mixed. At times I admired the hard-working employees working in the factory’s hot conditions but I also felt gratitude as I reflected on my fortunate position as an undergraduate student living in Australia who benefits from all this consumerism. Often, we are separated from the process that goes into making a product, but when we get to view the whole process from idea to market, a fuller understanding occurs; from the individuals who are responsible to being a consumer who uses such appliances.

Designing the Future of Business

Not only did I learn from observing my environment, but also from my fellow colleagues’s reactions to what they were seeing. For instance, the study tour had a couple of first-year students who were completing the same program as me. First-year commerce student Aileen Hou emphasised the importance of encouraging future first-years to participate in such learning experiences:
“It’s a perfect opportunity for the time when you’re unsure about what majors to choose and what to do with your life! It’s perfect for discovering what you never knew about the business environment and for rediscovering what you’ve always loved about it.”
It was the first time the Business School ran this program in China. The study tour was a pilot, and so it was not without its own challenges. What was exciting for me and my peers who were learning about the future of business in China was that we were able to contribute to the design and improvement of the program with our Unit Coordinator, an important step for the next time the program is to be delivered. As the Unit Coordinator of the study tour Associate Professor Rachael Hains-Wesson said, “this program needs to be created for, with and by students, as students are the main players in this learning game and are experts in knowing what might work better for future cohorts.”
Listening to a presentation at ORIZA Holdings

The program was co-delivered by the Suzhou Centre, which is a relatively new centre that the University of Sydney has set up to increase the working relationship between China and Australia in the area of innovation and research. As one of the Suzhou facilitators suggested, “it was a learning process for me, to offer better experienced programs in the future” and the Executive Director of the Centre in China in Suzhou, Cathryn Hlavka further explained: “This program has been designed to help Business students explore contemporary China and witness the enormous developments that are taking place across first, second and third tier cities in China.” She also went on to say that with the movement towards internationalisation of business, the China Business Study Tour, “helps students experience the Chinese culture and language while they are based in Suzhou and consolidate their learning through industry and business visits.”

Cathryn Hlavka delivers a welcome speech

Shattering Expectations

From visiting China’s corporate businesses and manufacturers to getting hands-on experience with the latest technology in urban planning and surveillance, the China Future of Business Study Tour over the past winter break has shattered my preconceived expectations and assumptions about doing business in China. Students on this study tour, including myself, the Business School and the Suzhou Centre will continue to work together to encourage more students to participate in China programs to improve students learning experiences about the future of business in China.

In summary, it is extremely humbling to be a part of this experience with my peers who will also be the next generation of professionals that will seek to make a positive global impact. What proved so valuable in the end for us is to not assume what China is about, but to question, investigate and reflect to uncover a greater understanding of what China means to each of us and therefore reevaluate what "Made in China" really means for the future of business.

Written by Andrew Trinh

3 October 2018

US Study Tour

After spending 20 very enjoyable hours on a plane, 16 of us arrived in the Big Apple for the inaugural US study tour – a program designed in partnership with Trena Blair (CEO of FD Global Connections) and the Business School to provide students with an opportunity to study entrepreneurship in the start-up capital of the world.

The purpose of the tour was for us to work in groups to create our own start-ups and present a pitch at the end. The aim was to be as realistic to a real start-up incubator as possible in the short time frame we had. To facilitate this, the tour incorporated studying at some of the best US universities and meeting industry experts. Before the tour even started, we went to Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures in Sydney and learnt how they create start-ups and disruptive ideas for some of the largest businesses in the world.

In New York, after we spent time eating the food and exploring the city, we spent time studying at NYU Stern Business School. We learnt about how to gain inspiration and create a start-up. Afterwards, we talked to the industry – for example, we went to the New York Tech Meetup and watched start-ups pitch to investors, and we went to the Natural History Museum to learn about how they gain consumer intelligence. Universities often talk about mixing theory with practical experience and this tour does it in spades. There wasn’t a single thing we learnt that wasn’t directly corroborated either by talking to start-up founders, or seen through our workshops at Boston Consulting group.

Visiting the Australian Embassy in New York

In terms of the course content, it is a course on design thinking, which is essentially a methodology about how to solve complex problems. Design thinking is particularly useful for start-ups due to the difficulty in conceptualising and implementing a new product. However, this course’s breadth is far beyond just start-ups. It sounds cliché, but studying design thinking really does introduce you to a new way of solving problems. The high-level approach to problem solving really makes it appropriate for just about any business school student, and it is really divergent from any traditional unit.

This experience is an easy sell for anyone interested in start-ups or entrepreneurship. Just the experience of going to New York and DC, going to visit Wall Street, the 9/11 Museum, the Met, the Museum of Modern Art, the Capitol building and millions more makes it all worth it. New York has so many things for anyone to enjoy, from the food to the entertainment to the history. It isn’t a cliché that you really learn so much from travelling. I can barely speak to the emotion you feel in the 9/11 museum and memorial, or how beautiful The Starry Night is in the Museum of Modern Art, or how great the waffles for breakfast were. I can barely remember all the things I did!

This was the University of Sydney’s first time running this tour, and I think I speak for all of us who attended that it was a resounding success. The opportunity to do a business elective and get credit points to your degree, study and experience the US, and meet some very talented people was a very rewarding experience.

Written by Joshua Rizk

28 September 2018

What I did last summer: my Industry Placement Program (IPP) experience

Where did you do your placement?

I undertook my placement with UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia, a not-for-profit organisation, as an International Women's Day (IWD) intern.

IWD is a day to celebrate and show your support for gender equality and women empowerment. For UN Women NC Australia, this IWD campaign period is a critical period to raise awareness and obtain donations to fund UN Women’s projects in the Asia Pacific Region. This year's theme was 'leave no women behind'. The funds raised went back to their programs supporting women involvement in the disaster planning, response and recovery efforts.

Anna and Camilla at Parliamentary Breakfast

What was your role and what kind of projects did you work on?

My role focused on the IWD Purple Ribbons business and my responsibilities were in drafting up a marketing plan to identify our target markets, from the corporate sector to community-based organisations, along with suggested communications. The objectives driving my work were to maximise the proceeds from ribbons while also educating customers of the ribbons' importance.

Over the placement, I received extensive support not just from my supervisor but from all my colleagues. I was able to comfortably put forward suggestions. What I enjoyed most was how open my colleagues were towards my desire to learn and do more outside of my usual responsibilities. This fostered a supportive workplace culture that allowed me to undertake work in other areas of interest.

Volunteers for Sydney’s 2018 IWD Breakfast

How did CEO’s services and resources help you prepare for the IPP?

Utilising CEO’s eCommunity resources went a long way in helping me to secure my placement. The resume resources (on Canvas and Blackboard) and the feedback I received on my mock online interview and mock assessment centre practice gave me valuable insights into what assessors expect, which saw my confidence skyrocket when it came to the real thing. 

Why did you decide to participate in the IPP?

I saw it as an opportunity to apply what I had learnt in the classroom into practice. Having reflection orientated assessments made me more aware of what I was learning on a day-to-day basis. It allowed me to connect and put into practice theories to a professional setting.

IPP also stood out to me because of the support provided by the CEO staff and unit coordinators. Whether the IPP placement is for six weeks or over the entire semester, going into a professional workplace can be daunting, especially if it’s the first time. The pre-training, the catch-up session and the post-IPP debrief session went a long way to inform me how to make the most out of the placement.

How has the IPP helped you?

Public speaking had never been a strong point of mine but this placement allowed me to practice my commercial awareness and business acumen, which improved my professional communication capabilities. The first few days were a lot for me to take in but the training sessions gave me reassurance that this is an opportunity to be embraced. I did so by actively listening and asking many questions, which enabled me to quickly learn, adapt, prioritise and multi-task.

What is the most important thing you’ve taken away from your experience?

There are two. Firstly, communication. I recommend you schedule weekly meetups with your supervisor as early as you can to receive feedback on your progress. Also do research on your organisation, understand what value you can bring to the role and ask yourself what you want to get out of your placement. Then, be proactive in turning these visions into reality by openly communicating them to your supervisor.

Secondly, network with your colleagues in a way that is authentic. Whether it be leveraging company events to meet like-minded individuals or getting to know your colleagues over lunch, it goes a long way! Chat about their career pathways, what they enjoy most and what has been the most challenging aspects of their role. It can uncover hidden gems that can provide greater clarity for your own career goals.

Written by Anna Wang
3rd year Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student