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“How to Uni” - Q&A with the NoW team!

What are you studying?

Angela: I’m in my second year of a commerce and law degree, majoring in finance.

Anna: I am in my third year of a Bachelor of Commerce/Advanced Studies, majoring in International Business and Design.

Fave thing about uni?

Anna: My favourite thing about university would have to be the food and easy access to coffee! I get discounted coffee and free double shots and it is the best and at the same time the worst!

Angela: Definitely meeting new people. You don’t realise how much of a bubble high school is until you graduate and go to university. I also love the flexibility of uni - you can choose when you want your classes to be, and when to relax with your friends.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your uni experience?

Anna: My most challenging aspect of university would have to be my first semester at university. I had no idea what I really wanted to do or how university worked at all. I quickly became extremely intimidated by university, the nature of the learning and teaching and I quickly adopted the mindset to ‘get in and out of university as quickly as I could’. My motto was to go to uni, go to my tutorial or lecture, then go home straight away. I now realise that I was only my own worst enemy and that no one really felt 100% comfortable or knew what they were doing. I was extremely lucky to have my best friend from school with me and met some lovely people from Sydney Uni Business Camp that undoubtedly made me stick with my degree!

Angela: Adjusting my study habits from high school to university was the hardest part for me (and still a work in progress). During high school, you became used to learning what’s required according to the syllabus and doing homework set by the teacher. At university, you have to take the initiative to stay on top of all your classes, ask questions if you’re not clear about certain concepts and even do research outside of the course sometimes to really grasp the content. Also getting out of the ‘the test is over, I can forget everything now’ mindset - you have to remember that everything you’re learning now is useful for your whole degree and future, so changing my attitude towards learning was definitely a challenge for me.

I’m interested in getting more involved with clubs and societies on campus. Do you have any tips?

Anna: For me, it took me until halfway through my second year to get into the swing of clubs and societies. Before that, I never even thought about it because I never had the time and left straight after class. My biggest tip to getting more involved is talking to people in your group assignments and seeing what they do at university. I found out about current groups on Canvas and they were more than happy to send me a link on how to join and get involved!

I also had to step out of my comfort zone. When I joined NOW, I had only been to a few events. I had a couple of friends at NOW that I have met through industry opportunities and they are the reason why I am now a part of the NOW team. Overall, build your network. It will take time, but it starts by having a conversation with someone from a group project, one of your friends or just going to an event and saying hello to a club executive team.

Angela: 100% go for it - in my opinion, joining clubs and societies is the best way to make friends and meet new people! I recommend walking down Eastern Ave during Welcome Week and mingling with the different stalls to see what’s up on offer. Join some societies that are more degree and career-oriented, but also some for fun and leisure. For example, apart from NoW, I’m also a part of the Financial Management Association of Australia (FMAA), BusinessOne Consulting and ChocSoc. There’s definitely something for everyone.

I’ve heard getting internships early on in your career is useful, yet competitive. Where are you working and how did you land your position?

Anna: I was the most unaware person of internships for the first year and a half of my degree. It is really annoying, but getting on top of internship opportunities and their dates are really important and something that no one tells you until it is too late! I had always told myself that I will get an internship later, when the time is right, however in hindsight I realise every time is the right time. Last year, I applied for a Career Compass program at EY which is a pre-internship information session and career guidance program to help you understand what you want to do. This opportunity helped me get a vacationer internship at EY early! However, the testing and process to apply is no easy one! So, I recommend developing aptitude testing skills now!

I would also recommend understanding what your personal strengths and values are! This will make it so much easier to do interviews. Use a STAR framework if you want to help shape your response: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

I always see Instagram pics of uni students going on exchange. Have you participated in any international programs at university?

Angela: For sure! At the end of my first year, I enrolled in OLES2137 - Experience China, a 6cp unit. I honestly could not recommend this suite of OLEs enough - there are opportunities to go to China, France, Germany, Japan and more whilst learning the native language at an overseas university. For my course, I attended Peking University in Beijing. Our classes were 2-4 hours a day, 5 times a week. The classes accommodated for all Mandarin-speaking levels, with Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced classes. I had plenty of time to travel with my friends, from exploring the nightlife to eating hundreds of different Chinese dishes.

I also travelled to Washington D.C over the summer and did an internship at Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’ office for the Small Business Committee. Besides administrative tasks, I prepared the script for the Congresswoman, conducted research and prepared hearings in the House of Representatives. This program also involves studying at UCDC twice a week after work. I studied ‘Activism, Protest and the Politics of Change’ and ‘The US Supreme Court’. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Anna: This year I actually applied to do an Industry Placement Program in Paris over the winter break which would allow me to gain industry performance as well as international experience. Unfortunately, this trip was cancelled due to COVID-19, but I will definitely look to do other Industry Placement Programs when we can all travel again!

So please look out for international experiences that can fit into your degree such as IPP, OLEs or exchange!

What advice do you have for young females starting out in the workforce?

Anna: Do not doubt that you ever got into a role because you are a female. Believe me, I have felt that way at points during my application process for internships. This type of thinking can lead to imposter syndrome, in which thoughts manifest itself to make you think you do not deserve to be in that role. I always thought that imposter syndrome was something as a result of quotes to reflect growing gender equality, however, apparently, it has to do with how men are more confident due to testosterone. Despite our lack of testosterone, I urge you to be confident in why you got that job or the internship. Prove to people that doubt you or make you feel like an imposter that you are there for a reason.

Angela: In today’s age it’s more important than ever for women to stand together and empower each other. Corporate firms are starting to recognise this, and they’ve introduced a lot of female-only programs and opportunities in an attempt to bridge the gender gap. Make the most of these, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or to make your voice heard.

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