“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This has always been the question which leaves me gasping for words. As someone with a science background, an interest in writing, a deep aspiration in people relations and a knack in music, I always find it hard to only pick only ONE kind of dream through my adulthood.
At the time when I had to choose my university degree and major at the University of Melbourne, I systematically chose to pursuit Bachelor of Environments, Majoring in Construction. Why? This degree combines several disciplines into one – which includes science as well as managerial and artistic knowledge. Perfect for someone as confused as myself.
I have always envied those who absolutely know what they want to do for a living. How do they know they want to be a doctor when they have never experienced being one? Wanting to be a scientist when we mostly learn from textbooks? So, honestly, by the time I chose Construction, I did not have the slightest idea on whether I will enjoy working in the industry because I had no experience. The same answer goes to my aspirations in writing, management, and music.
At first, I thought my multiple interests will prevent me from fitting in the professional world. However, in Melbourne, I found that my random curiosity is actually embraced. Melbourne gives me the chance to explore my most random dreams and discover that my randomness is needed in the modern society.
Music and Writing
I have always felt this artistic itch to scratch while studying Construction – a need unlikely to be fulfilled through construction management papers and structural drawings. I decided to join student clubs to meet more like-minded people – and the opportunities keep flowing.
I did my first musical performance in Melbourne in the magnificent Melbourne Town Hall after joining Melbourne University Choral Society. My musical experience is then followed by a series of opportunities to perform in several occasions through invitations and recommendations, which allow myself to grow musically.
I am also lucky enough to grow my love of writing in the City of Melbourne. A recommendation from a friend somehow landed me my first ever paid job – working as a journalist for an Indonesian magazine. This surreal opportunity somehow opened other doors along my way – one of which is to become an Editor-in-Chief for a student magazine called AKTIVIS.
At first, it was absolutely daunting. Unlike any other editors I knew, I am studying Construction (instead of journalistic, or media, or something that is remotely related to magazine) and therefore, have a different outlook in running a magazine. Yet, somehow it worked and even helped me getting my current job in Construction. Apparently my experience in publications and journalistic had set me apart from other applicants. Lesson to learn: never underestimate any of your experiences.
PPIA (Indonesian Student Association in Australia) has by far been the most valuable part in my journey in developing my life skills. My experience in PPIA was certainly not smooth. At first, I was not even accepted in the team and later on, I was offered to step in as the team’s substitute coordinator. It was an incredibly steep learning curve for me, which also provided the chance to grow myself exponentially.
PPIA taught me to think quickly on my feet, yet to humble myself enough and learn from the people around me. I learned how to make professional arrangements with various corporations and how to rally my team together during difficult times. These are vital life skills to learn in our adult lives – most of which did not come from textbooks or lectures.
My Own Degree
I also had the chance to explore my own degree throughout the years. As a final year student, I feel like most of my journey in Construction is partly about finding the real ‘meaning’ of the industry. I started my study with the same question many of you will probably have in mind now: ‘What is Construction?’. Despite my early concerns, this question actually became my guide throughout my study.
As someone who have chosen a degree merely based on tactical and logical reasons instead of passion, I was in a disadvantageous position. However, I chose to view it as a chance to learn instead of a liability. That is why I tirelessly studied books or did internships – to expand my knowledge in this unfamiliar industry. The subsequent awards or job opportunities only came as a bonus to what I really seek for – better understanding and appreciation of the industry. Little do I know, my unusual choice of degree actually assists me in other parts of my life.
Surely, I am still learning the depths of my degree and abilities in other areas. However, I am glad to know the fact that multidisciplinary experiences are actually embraced and proven to be advantageous. As mentioned earlier, my experience in magazine helped me getting my current job. Yet, conversely, my technical experience in learning Construction management assisted my job of managing a magazine. My PPIA experience also assists me in dealing with other companies and doing presentations in my current job. I am proud to embrace my ‘randomness’ and glad that it is embraced in the modern world.
You are not bounded by your chosen degree. In the modern world, we need more multitalented people who are able to combine knowledge from multiple disciplines into one. So, keep exploring and be certain that your multiple passions are going to be useful in the future.
Photos provided by the author
Edited by Hadrian Pranjoto