28 July 2017

GRIT: The essential approach to living a meaningful University life

High school to University has been one of the biggest transitions in my life. In my first few days at University, I faced a dilemma. On one hand, I had the freedom to design my schedule, with an infinite amount of available choices; but on the other hand, it was my first time thinking about my unpredictable future, so I wasn't sure about my first step. In face of uncertainty, I was distracted by novelty and normality, and forget to ask myself what I really wanted. I simply didn't know how to approach university. 

However, it was when I started applying the concept of GRIT that I gradually discovered my real passions and persevered through uncertainties and setbacks. According to the renowned psychologist, Angela Duckworth, GRIT has four elements: interest, practice, purpose and hope. 

Explore your interests. 

It is perfectly normal to start off not knowing your passion, but your interests are a good starting point. Through studies, clubs/societies, programs and work experience, we can experiment and develop our interests. In my first year of university, I initially wanted to major in Marketing, so I became the marketing leader of a university club. Soon, however, I realised it wasn't for me, and I switched to International Business, which again wasn't for me.

Last summer, I did my first internship through the University's Industry Placement Program, from which I developed a strong interest in the intersection of technology and business. That's when I decided to specialise in Business Information Systems, my second biggest passion.

My main passion, however, was discovered through my elective units: Psychology. Thomas Edison once said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work". Failing is like the sculptor Michelangelo chipping away excess stones of a stone until he finds David in his sculpture. Keep testing your interests, learn what ISN'T your passions from your failures, and you will eventually find your real passion.

Deliberately practice. 

We like to enjoy the present moment of doing what we're interested in. However, deliberate practice is about being better at what we're passionate about, by stretching ourselves beyond our current limit as if we're training a muscle. I previously learnt classical guitar, studying it for 10 years, and I practiced by playing the same musical piece over and over again. Real musicians, however, deliberately separate each musical piece into small sections and practice them individually until perfection.

I received 35% for my first university assignment, mainly due to my English writing skills, but since psychology emphasised precise use of language, I was willing to simultaneously improve my English whilst learning psychology. I also read many psychology books, and was willing to study a psychology elective unit on research design and statistics to help me better evaluate psychology journal articles. I was willing to deliberately practice psychology, but not classical guitar. To me, psychology is my passion and classical guitar is my hobby.

Management guru, Peter Drucker, best explains the purpose of deliberate practice: "focus on one's strength and dismiss one's weakness unless they hamper full deployment of your strengths".

Find your purpose. 

How does your passion positively impact others? An author may have good ideas, but unless they're manifested in a book that fulfils the needs of others, it may be more of a hobby than a passion. To find your purpose, remember to think creatively. Many people ask me why not consider becoming a psychologist. My response is that the purpose I see through my passion in psychology is to make psychology more accessible for improving human wellbeing, and I see this opportunity through technology and commercialisation. I recently found a start-up internship through listening to a podcast, which provides an online platform for corporates to improve employee wellbeing. My work has been a combination of Business Information Systems and Psychology. Steve Jobs' creativity, which came from the creative combination of electronics and liberal arts, is an inspiration to me.

Maintain hope. 

Believe tomorrow will be better than today. One way is to develop a growth mindset. Rather than thinking yourself as either good or bad, believe that you always can strive to become better, no matter how good you already are.

Another way is to receive social support. Share your interests and passions with others who are willing to listen. More importantly, seek professional support. I recommend three types of people. Firstly, your role models. What strengths could you learn from them? Reading books is the simplest and cheapest way to learn from innumerable role models. Secondly, the University's career counsellors. They provide full-range career suggestions and support tailored to your situation. Lastly, mentors. The University and societies provide mentorship programs. I am lucky to have had a mentor since I was 16, who not only unleashed my hidden potential, but also kept me on track in face of the uncertain future.

When pursuing your passions or your unique self, you will always confront obstacles, setbacks and even doubts from others.But don't forget, what differentiates the outliers from the normal is the infinite hope inside their hearts.

By Andy Huang, Bachelor of Commerce student (Business Information Systems and Finance) at the University of Sydney Business School.

21 July 2017

Enactus Sydney

What is the Enactus program?

Enactus Sydney is a student-led organisation that uses entrepreneurial action to create sustainable social enterprises. Our projects aim to tackle important social issues within the community  and are first-class demonstrations of the power of entrepreneurship, enabling progress and enhancing the lives of those we touch. Our organisation consists of 60 students from various faculties and in different stages of their degree progressions. We are part of the global Enactus network spanning across 36 countries, 1730 universities and over 72,000 students.

What projects did you work on as part of the program and present in the Enactus Nationals?

At the Enactus Nationals, we presented three of our current projects:
Culinary Tales provides refugees with employment, a source of income and social connection by empowering them to run their own cooking classes. This provides our refugees not only with economic skills and income, but also a social platform to share their experiences and cultures. We believe food has a powerful ability to forge harmonious connections between people from all different culture and across generations. Culinary Tales started by running classes in the community, open to all members of the public. We have since expanded our reach to high schools, where our classes directly supplement the Food Technology syllabus and enhance students' understanding of multiculturalism. Furthermore, we piloted our first Corporate Class for Culinary Tales in 16/17, representing the launch of our third innovative branch. 

The Pop Up Project aims to empower disadvantaged youths with business, hospitality and customer service skills to increase their chances of employment and cultivate a stronger sense of independence and self-determination. Through, partnerships with Glebe Youth Services, we are currently delivering a 'Three-Day program' involving a one day barista course, a business skills training day and one day real life experiences running a Pop-Up coffee and waffle stall on campus. in 16/17, we have also expanded the program by delivering a paid cafe internship program for two of our students. We hope to continue our partnership with local cafes and organisations to empower disadvantaged youths to seek future education and employment. 

Flashback is a creative writing program that aims to provide a platform for socially isolated senior citizens to share their experiences and explore their creativity. Our workshops are facilitated by students from University of Sydney and aims to provide an avenue for social interaction and inter-generational understanding. This project was started in February from our Enactus Summer Internship program and had its first pilot program in May 2017. We hope to continue expanding the project across retirement villages and publish their stories in the future. 

How did you implement entrepreneurial thinking and action to address the social causes/groups behind these projects?

One of the biggest tools that we utilise at Enactus Sydney is the design thinking methodology that allows us to go deeper beneath the surface of a problem to truly empathise and understand what needs to be solved. This involves needs assessments and a lot of critical preliminary research. Ultimately, this allows our ideas and solutions to be truly impactful when we pilot and launch them. Furthermore, we often employ business tools and frameworks that we've learnt during our University studies to ensure our projects are as strong as possible. 

What was your key takeaway from the experience of the Enactus Nationals?

Enactus Nationals was truly an amazing experience. For our team, the ability to see the amazing projects of other universities was a key learning experience. We really appreciated the opportunity to hear about the social impact being made around Australia and it inspires us to continue working hard on our projects to ensure targeted, effective empowerment for the disadvantaged communities in Australia. At the end of the day, we are all tackling similar social issues in the community and we hope to foster a sense of partnership with other universities. By working together, we will be able to create solutions that will ultimately be most beneficial and empowering for the community.

What was it like interacting with other Enactus teams and presenting in front of industry professionals?

(From the presenters themselves):

Interacting with other Enactus teams and hearing about their projects with such passion was inspirational, truly highlighting the power that student volunteers have in creating social impact. Similarly, the opportunity to present to a panel of industry professionals who wanted to listen and learn about what we had achieved over the past year was invaluable, providing us with insight and advice that we can apply moving forward.

At first, presenting in front of the industry professionals was pretty nerve wracking, but the judges would smile which made me feel a lot more comfortable presenting. 
Meeting Enactus teams from other universities was also really great because we got to see what their Enactus culture was like and the different projects they were involved in.

Watching other teams' presentations was highly inspiring and refreshing when reflecting on the future direction of our teams' projects. 
I certainly underestimated the formality of the competition, which was immensely pleasing, as it showed the support, time and efforts industry professionals were willing to offer to the Enactus teams and their projects. 

How did you feel when it was announced Enactus Sydney were first place winners?

Speaking on behalf of the group, I think it is fair to say that when we were announced as winners, it was a moment of pure shock and joy. At the start of the year, Enactus Nationals was not on our radar: we were driven and focused on improving our projects to empower as many members of the community as we could. Hearing that we won was a great validation for us as a team because the results of our projects spoke for themselves and it simply reflected the hard work each and everyone of our members had put in. 

What are you looking forward to the most about participating in the upcoming Enactus World Cup in London?

As a team, we are excited to witness what other universities have accomplished in a multitude of countries. Furthermore, it will be an amazing cultural experience as we are able to network with students and business professionals from 36 other countries. Finally, as university students, we are simply excited to be able to travel to London and we are proud to represent Australia, and showcase our projects on the world stage. 

What are your expectations from the World Cup?

Going to the World Cup, we have not set any expectations on ourselves. Similar to the Enactus Nationals, we plan to let the results of our projects speak for themselves. However, we also expect this will be great learning experience as we hear about the various methodologies other universities utilise and their strategies towards delivering sustainable social impact in the community. 

Key people from the Nationals experience:

  • Our core executive team: Jonathon Tan (Chief Executive Officer), Alexander Chye (Chief Operating Officer), Sharon Yin (Chief Marketing Officer) and Carl Lesmana (Head of Project Development)
  • Our faculty advisors: Andrew Lee and James Meade
  • Our presenters: Matthew Youie, Lisa Gong, Monique Andreatta 

By Enactus Sydney, first place winners of Enactus Nationals.

19 July 2017

Industry Placement Program Q&A with Fernando Alves

Name: Fernando Alves
Degree: Master of Commerce
Major(s): Project Management
Industry Placement Program (IPP) Company: Business France

1. Tell us about what you worked on during your placement. Any exciting projects?

After an exciting and challenging interview process, I was given an internship with the Tech and Services department at the French Trade Commission here in Sydney, a great experience which combined consulting, lobbying and business development. Since the beginning, I was put on two different projects and directly worked alongside and reported to the Trade Advisor.

The first project was to assist a FinTech company who was seeking to enter and increase their activities across the Australian and New Zealand market through local partnerships. The second project was helping a major French port with their market entry strategy and B2B meetings in Australia.

2. What was the best thing about your IPP experience?

Exposure to a different range of projects, client led discussions, interviews, report writing and best practice market assessments.

3. What was your biggest achievement during the placement?

It was a challenging placement at first, having to juggle the three days a week of work and four units of study. However, it was well worth the investment as I was exposed to international consulting, a plethora of projects and cross cultural work ethics.

This experience allowed me to increase my ability to deal efficiently with a wide range of external contacts. It also allowed me to improve my communication and influencing skills and gain good knowledge of industry and business issues in both Australia and France.

4. What are your career goals and how did the IPP help you get closer to them?

The IPP allowed me to discover my passion and career path, and it allowed me to learn a lot about the industry I would like to work in. It also provided me with professional connections and career skills.

5. What was the biggest learning from your IPP experience?

My biggest learning from the IPP was a set of new skills, from new software program to different types of analysis to project management techniques. These in turn helped me with my university units as they complemented each other.

6. Why would you recommend the IPP to other students?

The IPP was a journey which provided me industry exposure and experience which allowed to be offered a trade advisory job. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to gain real work experience and improve their resume and references. The IPP is an excellent opportunity to build professional connections and to learn new skills.

The Industry Placement Program provides Business School students the opportunity to work for leading firms as part of their degree. To find out more and apply, click here.

12 July 2017

10 tips to help you get an internship

Did you know, while you’re on holidays that it is internship and vacationer role season?
Some of you are probably enjoying the European summer with friends or wishing you were! Whilst it is important to use this time for R&R after a big semester one, try to make the most of your time off and think ahead to how you can make the most of your winter break.

An internship or vacationer role can help you stand out from the pack when it comes time to apply for graduate jobs. I was successful in securing a vacationer role with KPMG in their enterprise audit division. The recruitment process took about 5 weeks and involved an online application, online assessment, video interview and partner interview. I want to share with you my top ten tips for anyone thinking of applying for vacation programs/internships!

1. Plan

Applying for a vacation program/internship could be a lengthy process and require lots of preparation, so it is essential to plan your time accordingly. Write down the opening and closing dates of the applications in your diary and start refining your resume and cover letter. A great way to stay up to date with the company you are interested in working for, is following their Facebook page – most companies promote their opening and closing dates on Facebook!

2. Apply early

Keep in mind that many firms assess applications on a rolling basis, therefore the earlier you apply, the better your chance. The online application is the opportunity to make a great first impression, don’t rush through it the night before the application closes, and give it your best shot!

3. Do you research
Understand what the role entails, the services offered by the firm, the clients it serves, and the firm’s corporate culture. Think about why you are passionate about the role and how your skills and experiences align with what the firm is looking for.

4. Reach out to your connections

Whether you know someone senior in the industry or someone who was an intern for the firm you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask meaningful questions. People are willing to help you if you show genuine interest and willingness to learn.

5. Practice, practice, practice
Attend networking events to familiarise yourself in a professional setting and enhance your communication skills. Many societies host networking events where you can practise interacting with professionals and building relationships. For example, SUBS (Sydney University Business Society) will be hosting their high achievers’ breakfast in semester two, where you can meet representative from different firms and industries.

6. Ask feedback from others
Ask your parents or friends to look over your online application before submitting, improve your application based on their feedback. Conduct mock interviews with someone who can offer you direct and constructive feedback. For behavioural based interviews, use the STAR technique in answering questions and make sure you have various examples from different roles.

7. Confidence is key
Remember that it’s a two-way process, yes, the firm will be assessing you, but it is also your chance to learn more about the firm and find out whether the role really suits you and would help in achieving your career goals. Believe in yourself and let the firm know your past achievements.

8. Don’t be afraid to be yourself
When you reach the later stages of the recruitment process, such as video interviews, assessment centres or face to face interviews, don’t be afraid to show off your personality and just be who you are. Your interviewers are experienced and have met many candidates, therefore they will be able to tell if you aren’t being honest.

9. Visit the CEO
The CEO is a great place full of resources and offer a range of career-related services to business school students. The CEO can review your resume, look over your online application, offer you application advice and interview tips, and also 1:1 career counselling sessions. I visited the CEO before my partner interview, the career leader answered all my last minute questions with great patience and offered other useful advice about the interview.

10. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t secure a vacationer role
Rejections are tough, but it won’t be the end of the world. I was rejected by many other firms before landing a job with KPMG, it is important to understand that there could be factor resulting your failure outside of your control. Don’t give up, look elsewhere, take every opportunity presented, you never know where your hard work may take you.

Good luck with all your applications!

By Josie Wu, Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School

15 June 2017

Student Feeds: the solution to every poor hungry student!

Are you the typical embodiment of a struggling uni student?
Are you constantly swamped with uni, work and a social life that you don’t have time to cook?
Did you just spend $20 on an UberEats meal?

If you answered yes, just know that you are not alone. And that I have the perfect solution for you!

Student Feeds is a start-up I have recently established where we provide $5 healthy meal preps to students specifically in self-catered accommodation. By producing in bulk and selling to consumers in bulk, we hope these meals can improve the affordability of student living. We are student-driven – organised by students for students. This means all our operations and future expansions will aim to involve students as the core of our business; whether this be in employing students, delivering to students’ doorsteps and establishing a personal relationship, or in generation of marketing and product development ideas. 

Having lived at a self-catered accommodation this year, the biggest struggle experienced by myself and many of my friends was cooking for ourselves. Cooking every day is time consuming and costly, which can distract us from our university responsibilities, resulting in unhealthy lifestyles. I’ve witnessed so many of my friends succumb to $20 UberEats and regret it afterwards. It also occurred to me that some of them did not have the skills to cook either, so I would often cook bulk meals once a week and give my leftover meals to my friends, who acted as though I was saving their lives.

Another motivation for creating Student Feeds was because I volunteered at Bellyful NZ last year. This organisation makes hundreds of meals a month and delivers them to recent mothers in need (e.g. with post-partum depression or babies in hospital). I loved taking part in bulk meal preparation with great volunteers for such a worthy cause and identified that in fact students may also be a cause in need of cheap, healthy meals.

I think a huge barrier many budding entrepreneurs face is taking the first step to create something new. Ironically, we’re too scared to fail and this self-doubt means so many ideas never come to fruition. This is me, but I forced myself to buy 100 meal prep containers off Ebay on a whim so I was obliged to use them. Student Feeds was created after pondering over the idea for a week, and it has only been getting better from there. 

Our first goal was simple: make $1 of profit in the first week. We managed to surpass this over 100 times over. Our sales have continued to double as more students have discovered our start-up, and due to pre-orders and brand exposure across self-cater accommodation, we sold out 46 meals in 2 hours. 

I will soon be needing to hire more students and expand our team. We would love to develop an app, get intellectual property protection, a physical premise, and to expand to more accommodation as well as across the campus. 

This is where we would LOVE your help! We are currently in the Top 3 to win $15,000 and mentoring in the Nescafe Headstart competition. Please help us improve student living by voting for our start-up here (voting closes June 26, 2017). If you would like to keep up to date on our progress, feel free to follow us on Instagram @studentfeeds.

By Cindy Burgess, Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School

8 June 2017

Balancing sports and study

The University of Sydney Business School has a long association with the Sydney University Football Club and supports elite athletes through scholarship programs. We recently spoke to Business School students and Sydney University Football Club rugby players, Jack Blair and Guy Porter, about their university experience as athletes.

Jack Blair
What do you love the most about being an athlete?

Jack: I love being in a team environment and the opportunity to push myself to be the best.

Guy: Particularly playing Rugby, being an athlete at University provides an incredible support network to structure my life around. There’s always that next goal to work towards, next week to focus on or the next training session to improve in. More than that, there’s the next chance to surround myself with people who are similarly ambitious and whose company I enjoy a great deal.

How do you balance the pressures of being an athlete with study and other aspects of your life?

Jack: I make sure to study when I can and when I need to, so that I can still attend all my sports commitments and perform in both. Trying to achieve at rugby and university can mean missing out on some fun but I have a good idea of when I can take time to enjoy myself.

Guy: Everyone has the challenge of balancing competing pressures in their lives. For an athlete, the reality of training and competition is just a different form of pressure. When your commitments to your sport are fixed, everything just has to fit in around that. There are times when that is extremely challenging, but you just make it work.

What is your proudest achievement overall so far?

Jack: Starting first grade debut in front of my family.

Guy: Since I have been at University I have been through my share of set backs from injury, so I suppose I am proud to have overcome four fairly major surgeries and now be back playing Rugby and enjoying my sport. Beyond that, I was lucky to have a taste of the NRC and test myself against some of the best in my sport. I’m proud to have been able to compete at that level.

What are your plans for after you graduate?

Jack: I want to be a professional rugby player, but until that happens I have applied for some graduate jobs in consulting and IT.

Guy: I have a couple of years left at Sydney University but I am committed to doing something with Rugby once I finish my degree. Whether that means playing overseas whilst completing some further study, or focusing on pursuing a professional opportunity in Rugby, I’m not quite sure yet.

How has support from the University of Sydney Business School been helping you achieve your career goals?

Jack: The Business School has been very accommodating to my sporting commitments, which has allowed me to continually achieve both on and off the field. In addition to this, they have helped ease the financial pressure of my degree which has reduced extraneous stress and allowed me to focus more on rugby and my studies.

Guy: The Business School has been very generous in providing the support I’ve needed to concurrently pursue my sporting and study ambitions. That has taken the form of financial support, flexibility in study requirements and the opportunity to meet professionals with a wealth of experience that has genuinely helped me in the direction I have taken with my study.

Have you taken up any other extra-curricular activities outside of sports that you would recommend?

Jack: Doing some acting/extras work has been a lot of fun and something very different from my usual activities.

What has been the highlight of your time at the University of Sydney Business School so far?

Jack: Learning practical skills and information that I can immediately apply to real world business decisions.

Guy: The highlight of my time at the Business School has probably been the chance to meet and cooperate with people, particularly in subjects that I have chosen because they are of particular interest to me and are contributing to my major.

What advice would you provide to other students looking to pursue a career in both sports and business?

Jack: Take every opportunity to get better and at the risk of sounding a little cheesy, believe that you can get better.

Guy: My advice for someone pursuing a career in both sports and business is that at some point you will be required to prioritise one over the other. The support networks provided by your club and the Business School are invaluable and by all means, make the most of the time you are able to manage both with maximum commitment. It is important during this time to be properly exposed to the reality of each but at some point one has to take precedence. What you think and how you value your sport or study might be different when you leave school from when you are called to make that decision but be prepared to commit wholeheartedly.

Guy Porter
Read more about sports and study at the University of Sydney Business School here.

5 June 2017

6 tips on how to kick start your career

It’s true what they say - time flies when you’re having fun. It may seem like yesterday when you first set foot on campus into the unknown world of University. Then all of a sudden you’re on the home stretch and you start to think – now what? Is this where my career begins?

During my time working with the Careers and Employability Office (CEO) team as a Career Leader within the University of Sydney’s Business School, the Careers and Student Experience Lounge has been where I’ve spent my time, reviewing student resumes and providing advice. It is where I have learnt a thing or two that are worth sharing! Here are my personal tips, as a Career Leader, that can help you kick start your career path before you graduate:

Join societies related to your discipline
The majority of majors offered within the Business School are associated with a society. The benefits? You can interact with students who have similar career goals and might even be enrolled in the same units of study. Sometimes, you can communicate directly with professionals working within the industry! If you’re lucky, the people you meet will remember you come graduate application time.

Think about whether you have a dream organisation
So many students can name their dream position but go blank when asked about the organisation that they want to work for. This can be important because cover letters will require you to think about why you have chosen to apply for a position at that particular organisation. Being aware of your own value system is one way to start thinking about this. Researching organisations is also important and is so easy with social media!

Practice makes perfect
The internet. As students, we cannot live without it. It is filled with blogs and forums that provide a heap of useful tips for interviews, assessment centres and so much more. The best students use this to practice. For example, drafting answers to sample behavioural interview questions found online. The CEO also offer a range of useful practice opportunities, including Mock Assessment Centres.

Build your online self
So many people know about professional social media, but few know how to use it effectively as a self-promotion tool.  Putting as much effort into your LinkedIn profile as you do your Instagram account is one way to promote your achievements without being limited to 1-2 pages. Added benefits? LinkedIn often advertises job vacancies that align with your experience.

Challenge the assumption that you’re not ready
A great number of students think that because they do not have their degree yet, they are not ready to work in their desired field. There are so many available part-time and casual positions that are aimed at students who are working towards a degree. Working in these roles from the early stages of your degree can provide you with the experience needed to emerge as a desirable candidate at graduation.

Take advantage of the Careers and Employability Office 
Once you graduate, you may not be able to walk straight out of a lecture and into a Careers Office bursting with resources and friendly faces. Take the edge off your final year by engaging early, learn about the programs offered and stay up to date with all of the events. Book in for a 1:1 careers session with a consultant or visit the Careers and Student Experience Lounge, open 12-3pm Monday to Friday.

About the blogger
I am currently a Career Leader for the CEO. This has been enjoyable so far because I feel important. As a student myself, I can give other students advice based on my own experiences at university and in the workplace. Also, I have been an undergraduate mentor twice. I loved using my experience, resources and contacts to help students find answers to their questions and enjoyed developing friendships with other mentors.

Dream Career?
Judge for the Fair Work Commission

Where do you want to be in ten years?
Employment lawyer

What CEO service do you recommend to Business School students? 
My personal favourite CEO service is their Blackboard and the associated resources. It is something that is so easy to access, whether you have a break between classes or are bored on the train. There’s so much there to help students transition from student to an employee which can be a difficult process without help and guidance.

By Stephanie Georges, current Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Law student at the University of Sydney Business School