Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Audrey Chung: a hardworking, mature-aged student

Meeting Audrey Chung, a mature aged student for the first time definitely was intimidating for me. Her no-nonsense personality is only complemented by her severe countenance. But after getting to know her for some time, she has displayed remarkable leadership skills as President of the Accounting and Auditing Society. She displays both passion and direction in the area of marketing, but things weren’t always easy for this 25 year old student.

Having changed schools a few times since starting Australian schooling in year 8, Audrey didn’t immediately enter University to complete a bachelor’s degree. Instead she decided to work in different industries to gain real world insights. After working in the retail management industry, she found herself with the desire for a substantial and worthwhile career on the next level combined with a thirst for new opportunities  and a need to apply everything she’s learnt thus far, Audrey embarked on a bridging course that advanced her into the University of Sydney, completing a Bachelor of Commerce.

Currently in her second year, it was quite difficult for her to adapt to the shift in lifestyle. Being a mature age student already put her on ends with her peers albeit not telling them outright, she was quite disconnected with her peers. Additionally having the educational disadvantage due to home schooling, the struggle persisted as she worked hard to catch up. Having little knowledge of what career paths she could take, little in common with her peers and being fraught about having to catch up, it’s safe to say that her first few months of university life was quite relentless.

Audrey did prevail. On the recommendation of several tutors and lecturers, her best bet to fit into university life and gauge a better understanding of what she wanted was to engage herself in different clubs and societies, allowing her to stay grounded in university life and not have her motivations and direction needlessly drifting. Through society involvement, she learnt a great deal about the industry, attaining a good grasp of the corporate worlds and her capability, achieving the role of President of the Accounting and Auditing Society (AAAsoc).

Throughout her first year, she learnt many things outside just lectures and tutorials. She felt that this industry needed a high level of professionalism, that organisational skill and teamwork capacity was the key to success, and that doing a degree was both challenging, rewarding fast track of your learning experience. She describes her presidency role in AAAsoc almost as doing an additional subject. Recounting it as not difficult due to her previous work in management, it wasn’t hard to work with a team, however it was challenging and nerve wracking knowing she had the full responsibility of the society and its outcomes. “Working culture is imperative to the function and an outcome of a society, dealing with different people in the society means I need a customised approach for each person”.

Although she is currently moving against her initial major of Accounting, towards Marketing as through many interactions with lecturers, tutors and even other students, she has finally found her comfort zone where she can thrive freely in a field that she feels passionate about, allowing for creativity and challenge. She recounts this as “After enrolling in the Bachelor of Commerce I began investigating careers at Sydney’s major accounting firms but still didn’t feel like I had found the direction I was hoping for. In my second year I organised a chance to sit down for coffee with business school lecturer Giuseppe Carabetta, who taught me in 'Foundations of Business Law' the year before and always stood out to me as someone passionate about his career in employment law research and teaching. It was this kind of passion I knew I wanted the chance to pursue while at Sydney University. Giuseppe has won an unprecedented number of lecturing awards, but is “a decent person” too. I described to Giuseppe my skills in interpersonal communication and background in the retail and fashion sector, and from this discussion Giuseppe was able to suggest I try taking a few marketing units in conjunction with my other commerce units. Within a few months I was revelling in marketing, and at the end of my second year I am excelling in my studies, and moving towards completing a major in marketing. Most importantly to me though, I feel passionate about where my studies are taking me and am looking forward to the rest of my time at Sydney University”.

Imparting her wisdom for future generations Audrey both leads and inspires by saying “You never know your capabilities until you try”. Personally I would like to thank her for being such a good friend, mentor and leader.

Koy Daront Chea
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School