Tips and tricks for surviving university in 2021

Professional development and networking

By ben Griffiths

Professional development and networking are often thought of narrowly as a means to optimise your employability and I think this is misguided. While increased employability is undoubtedly a by product of professional development and networking, I would encourage everyone to think of it more as a process of becoming a well-rounded person and meeting lots of interesting people. This mindset enables you to align yourself with the people, skills, and initiatives that you’re actually interested in and will ultimately find more fulfilling. 

University has a lot to offer in this realm, whether it’s through research projects, committees and clubs, exchange, or career and academic guidance. I would heavily encourage you to engage with university as much as you can, meet fascinating people doing things you care about, and develop the kinds of skills that you and prospective employers care about. Being on a committee or volunteer initiative such as Strive, MUHI, writing articles, or consulting clubs are great ways to develop technical skills while meeting engaged people who are motivated by social impact. Moreover, they are fantastic ways to develop soft skills like communication, stakeholder management, leadership, organisation and so many more important elements of professional development that are often neglected.

Likewise, pursuing internships, startups, or part time work are great ways to achieve all of the above while you’re studying.

Brief Biography:

My name is Ben Griffiths and I’m the Community Engagement Project Manager for the Publications team at Strive. I’m currently a 4th year Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and Diploma in Languages (French) student at the University of Melbourne. I’m passionate about policy, public health, climate change, international collaboration, and finding ways to combine these interests to make a tangible impact. In my spare time I like to play guitar, learn more about the world, hang out with friends, and write articles.

University Life

By Ben Smyth

Melbourne has a lot of great opportunities for you to grow as a person if you’re willing to try new clubs and experiences. Joining a sports team can be a great way to find a group of friends and have a healthy hobby. There are various clubs for your other interests, whether they be chess, learning languages, hiking, or eSports. Unless you’re the most introverted person in the world, making friends at uni is a must. In my first year I made no effort to make friends, and just hung out with people from high school. I felt disconnected from uni and did not enjoy my year that much.

My advice, generally, would be to get out there and try to meet new people – there’s plenty of super interesting people to meet! When you were at high school, you spent time with the same people each day and they were your friends; at uni and in adult life, you have to make an active effort to create and maintain friendships, and that’s something you’ll have to get used to. With uni, the more you get involved, the better your experience will be – and you might make some lifelong friends along the way!

Brief Biography:

Hi there, my name is Ben Smyth and I’m in my third year of Bachelor of Science, majoring in Psychology and also completing a diploma in Computing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and helping others refine their writing; this ties in with a burgeoning interest in public health. When I have the time, I enjoy boxing, singing, listening to podcasts, and playing video games.

Work/study/life balance

By Henry Sundram

The balance between combined work and study and all other aspects of life is one that many of us have misjudged during some stage of our lives. There are two consequences of having an imbalance. One is to be completely overwhelmed coming up to assessment deadlines because you have enjoyed one too many good times. The other is to sadly consider all of the life experiences and opportunities that you have missed because you prioritised studying. For a period of my life, I fluctuated between these polarised lifestyles, which was really not a good thing. 

I think that it is critical to remember that study and work consume large portions of time but if completed productively and efficiently, you will have plenty of spare time to do other things. Productive study does not involve simply sitting at your desk and being distracted by any fleeting thought. If you (subconsciously!) pursue that approach, you will forever be watching recorded lectures or writing essays. The way I keep off heeding distractions is to ask myself: would I really prefer doing this now or having free time at the end of the day?

I find that the best approach is establishing a clearly defined schedule which involves multiple socialising events per week and sufficient time to ‘recover’ (if required) and to complete study and work. Ultimately, the key is in the name – you need a relatively equal balance between experiencing life and studying and work in order to maximise your satisfaction and happiness

Brief Biography:

Greetings, my name is Henry Sundram and I’m currently completing my second year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and History alongside a Diploma in Languages (Indonesian). I joined Strive with the hope of helping advance the collective health of the community, especially the disadvantaged. I enjoy reading, writing, bushwalking and all things cricket!

Life after undergrad

By Kin Peng Soo

Completing a Bachelor of Biomedicine or Science equips you with a strong foundation for future success. For those pursuing health sciences, many associate the natural extension of their undergraduate studies as medicine, dentistry, or allied health. Although these degrees may suit some people, it is important to recognise that for many these prescribed careers are not for them. Luckily, jobs after these degrees are generally only limited by your creativity and imagination. For those keen on research and education: academia, teaching, and health journalism/promotion are all worth considering. If you dream about effecting change on a larger scale, there are many pathways to law, politics, and public health. Beyond these options, the highly sought-after skill of critical thinking provided by these degrees allows for countless other pathways from engineering to management consulting.

For those of you who are unsure of the path you want to take, although it may seem like a curse at this moment, it allows you the opportunity to discover something you are truly passionate about. My advice in this situation is to be open to new experiences, whether that be through joining clubs/organisations or working in different industries, and to allow yourself time to figure things out

Brief Biography:

My name is Kin Peng Soo and I am one of the Community Engagement Officers for Strive. I am currently completing my last year of Medicine having also completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne in 2017 majoring in Human Structure and Function. I am passionate about improving quality access to education and healthcare. In my spare time I enjoy photography, reading, and car mechanics.  

Geting through your degree

By Sreshta

Biomed is a whirlwind of a degree – challenging in many regards but nonetheless rewarding. Once you get past the first year subjects, it’s definitely smoother sailing with more interesting and relevant content. As you progress, hopefully you’ll be able to find the study methods that work for you (experimentation is key!) and be able to have fun with the content. It can be a demanding course at times so getting involved in extracurricular activities (uni clubs, sport, volunteering) can add balance and make your time at uni more meaningful and interesting. Finding new hobbies, getting involved in the community and building a life outside of study won’t just be useful in biomed but will be so important for the rest of your life and for your happiness. Despite being a really important degree to many, there is a world outside of it and I strongly believe the more you experience that world, the more you can bring to your studies.

Brief Biography:

Hey there! My name is Sreshta and I am a first year medical student at the University of Melbourne. I have loved being involved at Strive through Community Engagement for the past little while working on initiatives such as our Nutrition Workshops and Healthy Eating Storybook. When I’m not at uni you’ll probably find me at Woolies on a grocery run that probably didn’t need to happen or on a walk-phone call with my friend who’s interstate!

Things you wish you knew in first year

By Jacob Park

Having been in uni for my 7th year now, if I could go back to first year and do it all over again, I would tell myself to:

1. Not feel pressured to attend lectures on campus. I know that it’s not immediately relevant due to the pandemic, but I still had the high school mindset that if I didn’t physically go to class, I wouldn’t learn – but this is not true! What I want to say is that you don’t need to force yourself to be physically present at lectures; if you really feel like having a day off and staying home, feel free to do so.

*Disclaimer: some subjects have a minimum lecture attendance % requirement, so YMMV.

2. But don’t NOT come to campus at all. One of the things I regret the most is not going in to enjoy the campus more – whether it be grabbing coffee with friends, chilling in the sun or ‘studying’ with friends in the library or actually just enjoying the feeling of being a uni student, make sure you still go in every now and then.

3. Finally, play hard but also work hard. There are a LOT of opportunities to party at uni. Combine that with now having nobody to reaaally tell you what to do and when to do it by (to an extent), it is incredibly easy to drink and dance away your semesters until you realize exams are only a couple of weeks away. To prevent yourself from having this unpleasant realisation, do party hard, but also make sure you: a) Take note of assessment requirements and due dates at the start of the semester for your subjects and b) still make sure you’re revising at least every week or two to stay on track.

No matter how many tips and tricks I have up my sleeve for students starting fresh at uni, the misfortune AND beauty of university life is that you really do have to figure a fair bit of it out on your own. But that’s okay, hopefully the above tips will be a decent seatbelt for your ride through the next few years!

Brief Biography:

My name is Jacob Park and I’m the Director of Operations at Strive. I’m currently finishing up my final year of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, doing placements at the Austin Hospital. As much as people like to think all med students do is study, I still find heaps of time to gym, watch Netflix (quite happy to get/give recommendations) and play CS:GO.

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