20 November 2017

Lucy Mentoring Program experience

Name: Siyi Lu (Christina)
Degree: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)
Placement: HLB Mann Judd

Why did you choose the Lucy mentoring program?

Before I came to Australia, I did research about opportunities on the Business School’s website and found the Lucy Mentoring Program! I told myself “I must join this program”. As an international student, without permanent residency (PR), I realised it could be an obstacle to securing an internship. The Lucy Program not only provided a professional networking opportunity but work-based experience in Australia.

What sort of work-based experience did you undertake during the program?

My work-based experience was fantastic. I worked in HLB Mann Judd, an accounting firm in Sydney. I gained work experience in Tax, Audit and Corporate Advisory. I am grateful I had this opportunity as having just completed my Taxation and Auditing units, I was then able to apply this knowledge and gain industry experience.

I worked with the Corporate Advisory team, where I helped them interpret Chinese financial statement and related documents. I realised as an international student, that being bilingual adds value to the firm. I also helped with research and analysis on merger and acquisition, an area I hadn’t thought about previously.

In the audit team, I helped to conduct audit planning using auditing software. Also, I had a chance to visit clients and undertake substantive testing. I applied what I learnt from the auditor training session with my accounting knowledge to generate the annual report.

In the tax team, I helped with researching the employee share scheme and presented my findings to my tax partner. I also attended an individual tax return training session.

On top of the work, the firm had many interesting activities happening. I attended the audit pre-busy party, netball competition, and morning tea session. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the Australian work environment.

What challenges did you face in the program?
The challenge was that I wanted to undertake greater responsibilities and tasks but at this point in time I lacked the experience and skills to do so. From this program, I decided the next step of my career development would be to gain the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification. In the first few days of the work-based experience I asked myself “how do I grow and develop my work relationships and adjust my work ethics to fit with the firm’s culture?” I decided that if I continued to be friendly, be eager and willing to help, listen to instructions carefully and ask questions, that I would be fine.

What did you learn from the Lucy mentoring program?
I am so grateful that Mariana is my mentor. Mariana is a great leader and is always very energetic. She took me to the NSW Tax Institution and shared her experience when she chaired the board meeting. Mariana has worked in HLB for 17 years and has volunteered in the tax institution for nearly 10 years. What inspired me is not just her ability to contribute to her firm but her willingness to give back to the community. Mariana taught me to never stop learning and how important this is in career development. Mariana inspires me to continue to learn and grow my knowledge.

I was lucky to join mysoundingboard, a program of HLB, which empowers business women. I followed these business women in LinkedIn, and came across a post about a woman who works in trademarking and was helping an African refugee to launch her startup - one of the members of mysoundingboard replied to her post “If you need any help, just tell us”. To see people use their expertise to help those in need, instantly gave me a smile.

This is my last semester, I am curious to see what my career will look like. I need to get my CA and want to learn more from this qualification. I know I’ll face obstacles but that’s okay because it’s all a part of the learning process. What is more important is that I have a positive mindset and find ways to overcome failures. Before this opportunity comes, I must prepare well. I hope in the future that I am able to use my experiences to mentor and empower women to pursue their career goals.

What advice do you give students who want to apply for Lucy mentoring program?
1. Take note of the application deadline and mark it in your calendar.

2. Do an action plan. I checked the Lucy Program a semester before applications opened and formed a set of action points. For the program I needed a credit average or above, demonstrate leadership potential and effective communication skills. So, I attended on-campus volunteer activities and took on leadership roles voluntarily in group assignments and events.

3. Help others in the work-based activities. By helping others, I gained support from my colleague. I had a chance to have a meal with the audit manager who has worked as an auditor for 10 years. It was great to talk to professionals because it gave me direction of what my next step is and how to best present myself in a professional setting.

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