What’s it really like to study commerce at UQ? What does the day in the life of a commerce student look like? What kind of job can I get with a commerce degree? And how will UQ give me the skills I need to face the future, when I don’t know what the future looks like?
Dhruv is studying commerce and law, and Debbie Jeffery is an Associate Lecturer in Commerce. They’ve teamed up to answer some of your questions, and help you decide what’s right for you.
What is the most unexpected thing you've been happy to discover in UQ?
Dhruv: I think it's definitely the sheer amount of things to do. You've got so many clubs and societies. I remember in my first year during orientation week, I joined the Business Association, The Law Society, The Boxing Club, The Taekwondo Club, The Running Club and The Yacht Club.
What are some of the coolest jobs your former students are doing?
Debbie: I have students who are in New York as investment bankers, I have students who are in London working in Big Four accounting firms, and students who are working for banks like JP Morgan and students who are working for not-for-profit companies as well.
What does a day in the life of a commerce student look like?
Dhruv: Obviously I go to class and there's tutes and lectures and that's all fun and great, but I think the best part is, there's a lot of extracurricular student associations. So I'm a part of UQBA (University of Queensland Business Association), which is a great way to connect with other like-minded people.
Debbie: I'm always impressed with all the different events that the associations put on. The UQBA have industry guests that come in and speak on panels for students to give them an idea of different careers.
Dhruv: It's a great way for us to meet those sponsors as well. We have the satisfaction of hosting the event but it's a good way to build your network, speak to people in the industries and really get an idea of what you're looking to get out of your degree.
What is it about UQ’s approach that makes us the most employable graduates in the state?
We try and prepare you for the unknown because the world is constantly changing, careers are constantly changing. So we try and give students the skills that they need, and the knowledge that they need that they can handle a diverse range of situations.
How does the way you learn at UQ teach you the skills you need to face an unknown future?
Dhruv: The best thing about uni is the atmosphere, so you're not just in a classroom listening to your lecturer read off some slides, you're in an environment where you're surrounded with other students who are just as driven and just as committed to learning your particular pursuit. In the future, those soft skills will come in really handy and help you to help clients address those solutions.
What opportunities do students have to get hands-on experience in the industry?
Debbie: Our students have fantastic opportunities here UQ. They get to try out accounting software in the commerce degree. They get to try out a trading room and buy and sell shares in real time, which is just amazing.
Dhruv: The Bloomberg Lab? That's awesome. I love that place.
Debbie: Such a great experience, I think they're getting a feel for what it means to actually be buying and selling shares and how the stock markets actually work. And they also have fantastic opportunities with our student employability team, who are on hand to try and encourage them to take internships, help with resumes and CVs, so it's just fantastic.
Dhruv: I've actually spoken to a few of the people at the student employability team, they're a great group of people. It's nice to know that you've got someone batting on your side when you're stressing over internship applications.
Debbie: We've got people in the employability team who used to work for Big Four accounting firms who can help you with how to prepare for an interview. How to prepare for the online test that you may have to do when you're applying for jobs.
What do you think employers in your industry are looking for, and how do you think UQ has equipped you with these skills?
Dhruv: I think the biggest thing employers are looking for is students who have the mindset to come up with solutions, outside of the box thinking, and also students who have good social skills. The ability to have that human interaction and understand what a client or a customer is looking for.
I think UQ equips you really well to appreciate those things because we're not just studying out of textbooks, we're actually appreciating and understanding why a lot of these really fundamental concepts are important.
How do you prepare students for the future when we don't know what the future looks like?
Debbie: We don't know what the future looks like. Our role here at UQ is to give students the skills and knowledge that they need.
But not only that, to also give them some of those soft skills. So, how they interact with their fellow students while they're at uni in terms of teamwork is very important, and just being able to adapt to different situations.
UQ is very good at getting students to experience different situations, and learn how to handle those and come up with ideas in those situations.
What have you learnt about yourself since you began your studies at UQ?
Dhruv: I’ve trained myself to have the motivation and discipline to get up every day and do the work that needs to be done. In high school, you'd get a detention for not doing your homework, and at uni, it's all up to you.
The other thing I would say is thinking for myself. At uni you're in this environment with all these incredibly smart people, incredibly smart lecturers and academics and just sitting in the library for one hour, the things you pick up on really gives you that drive and motivation to work harder at your particular pursuit.
Debbie: I love it when students come up to me at the end of a lecture and say, "Can you tell me about internships?" for example, because they're thinking not only about what they're studying, but they're thinking about what they want to do when they finish studying.
I think a commerce degree at UQ really gives you a world of opportunities that are open to you whether you want to be an advisor, an accountant, whether you want to work as a business risk analyst. There are just so many different opportunities available to you.
If you were employing the next commerce graduate, what would you be looking for?
Debbie: If I was employing the next commerce graduate, I would be looking for somebody who not only had the skills and knowledge that I expect them to know, but also some of those what we call soft skills. Can they work with people? Can they interact with people? Are they comfortable in their own skin? Are they confident in what they're talking about? Those are some of the things I think I'd be looking for.
Dhruv: That's really encouraging because I feel like my university experience has actually really helped me build those skills. It's not every day that you get to be in an environment where, not only are you being intellectually challenged, but you're able to have that kind of mindset in a community environment and hear what other people have to say as well.
Debbie: I think at UQ you get the whole experience; you get fantastic academics, teaching and learning, who are giving you the skills and knowledge, but you also have these amazing students who you get to work with and bounce ideas from.
Dhruv: I'd say that 50 per cent of my learning has come from classes and the other 50 per cent’s come from just speaking with my peers.