I came to Australia in June 2011 straight after graduating from my high school in Surabaya to pursue my Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) at the University of Melbourne. The underlying reasons were that University of Melbourne provided high-quality and internationally-recognised education which was relatively more affordable than the top universities in the US or UK. Furthermore, it is also supported by the fact that Melbourne is one of, if not the most, livable cities in the world which is also such a cultural melting pot where we can meet people from virtually any cultural backgrounds from hundreds of country around the world. Moreover, Melbourne is the sports capital of Australia, the home of the Australian Open tennis tournament and the Albert Park Formula 1 Grand Prix. Lastly, if you love drinking coffee/having brunches/taking food photos for your Instagram or Path then Melbourne is your promised land due to its reputation as one of the cafe and coffee Meccas of the world. In fact, lo and behold, Melbourne has been voted as having the world’s best coffee.
Fast forward to three years later. After completing my Bachelor degree and getting a green light from my parents, I decided to further my education by taking a two-year Master of Management (Marketing) at Melbourne Business School (MBS) – University of Melbourne starting from February 2014. My consideration was that I needed more business acumen to complement my Bachelor of Science degree in order to improve my employability. Also, just like what my favorite YouTuber, Casey Neistat, said, “If you don’t really know what to do, college can be a really nice place to find that”, I was not really sure of what I wanted to do in life and wanted to keep my career options open. Therefore, I was eager to look for new opportunities to develop myself further during my masters.
As a part of their course structure, MBS offers on-site intensive subjects called Melbourne Business Practicum (MBP) and Global Business Practicum (GBP) during the summer and winter holidays. In groups of four, the selected students are able to experience the business practices and culture of a Melburnian or overseas company, respectively. I have had the opportunity to participate in both of these subjects, MBP in summer 2015 and GBP in winter 2015. For MBP, our objective was to assist Envato, one of the leading startups in Australia, with their international expansion plan. Several months later, I enrolled into GBP in Malaysia where the project objective for our team was to produce a market entry plan for Bayer Healthcare. Those projects were extremely challenging but rewarding, as I was able to work with competent and determined teammates solving hard problems and dealing with various setbacks, such as constantly-changing requirements, data inaccuracies, or even sheer physical exhaustion due to the long hours. All-in-all, I really recommend taking these highly competitive subjects if you plan to study at MBS.
Author with his GBP team
On the flipside of all the academic works at university, it is worth noting that university life is so much more than getting good scores and maintaining lecture attendance. The people we meet and the novel experiences we gain will help shape ourselves as an individual, both personally and professionally. An exciting way to gain new experiences and meet new people is by getting out of our comfort zone is through involvements in various extracurricular activities. At the University of Melbourne itself, there are myriad interesting student organisations and societies which we can join, including globally-known names such as AIESEC, TEDxUniMelb , and Enactus. In addition, there are also several prestigious consulting clubs, such as 180 Degrees Consulting, Global Consulting Group, and Melbourne Microfinance Initiative where you can network with advisors from reputable consulting or audit firms. Drawing from my own experiences at AIESEC and Enactus, it is often very competitive to join these organisations due to their high recruiting standards and the vast number of interested applicants. However, if we succeed in being one of the committee members, we would be able to work alongside highly-motivated and driven individuals while simultaneously practicing what we have learned in class to solve real-world problems and contribute back to society. Eventually, these extracurricular activities help provide a well-rounded resume which maximises our employability.
Author among the Enactus committee members
Another perk of going to the University of Melbourne is the opportunity to get involved in its budding startup community which is supported by the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), University of Melbourne’s own startup incubator. During my last year at MBS, I had the privilege to be able to have a stint at a MAP-supported startup called Mobilkamu.com. By working in a rapid and dynamic startup environment, I was able to practice dealing with extreme uncertainties and deferring gratifications, which I feel have improved myself both personally and professionally.
Author with the Mobilkamu.com team
To sum it all up, getting a degree overseas is a big life investment, for it takes up quite a significant chunk out of our time and wealth. Thousand miles away from our home and family, we will be forced to leave our comfort zone. It might be extremely challenging initially, but as we adapt and grow stronger, we will be able to see things from different perspectives, gain extremely valuable insights, and be a better person as a result.
As a grown-up man who have completed two university degrees in Melbourne, I feel that those five-and-a-half years have helped me prepare to face the trial and tribulations of the so-called “adult life”. I have become a more open-minded and mature individual who is also able to think critically and see the both sides of the coin. Personally, I am really thankful for all the privileges and experiences I had in the Land Down Under and I wish the best of luck for those who are about to tread a similar path.
The opportunities are out there and it is all up to us to seize them. Remember, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Photo Courtesy: Author’s Collection