Switching from engineering to business
Wendy completed a year of study in engineering and although she enjoyed it, she saw more opportunities in business. She started studying the Master of Business Administration (MBA) at RMIT.
“As an engineer I [found] myself thinking about risks, challenges and blockers very often, to the extent that I [tended] to make conclusions saying, ‘We can't do this because of X, Y, Z’.
“Being thrown into business subject discussions with the lecturers, [and] with more business-minded people for the first time, I was pretty inspired by how people are willing to take risks and manage risks through to draw a conclusion of, ‘We can do it, we just need to do X, Y, Z to manage those things’.”
Wendy graduated with an MBA from RMIT in 2014 and came away with a swag of skills in readiness for an upwards career trajectory.
She credits the hard work she put into her master’s degree for landing a graduation position at telecommunications giant Telstra.
“I think just throughout the study it equipped me with strategic thinking and it also trained my leadership skills,” she said.
“On so, so many occasions as an MBA student at RMIT, you are just asked to present something on the fly. You are surrounded by those very talented people. Some of them are fresh grads with ideas of running [a] business on their own and some [are] very experienced professionals in their own fields already, which [brings] a lot of perspective to the classes.
“So the course equipped me with leadership skills and strategic thinking, which can be applied even every day to see the big picture instead of getting lost in the details. It's about perspectives.”
RMIT support and career highlights
There are a range of support services available to students at RMIT, including the popular mentoring program, which matches industry professionals with students and first-year graduates.
Wendy said the connection she made with her mentor and the guidance he provided extended her knowledge and confidence.
“It was very, very beneficial and I would recommend it to all the students doing their studies,” she said.
“I had the option to choose the mentor I wanted to be mentored by and he was fabulous. He offered me so much help and mentoring throughout my study.
“Afterwards he also gave me suggestions when I was applying for jobs and that relationship itself really encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, to try different things.”
During her three years as a Business Analyst at Telstra, Wendy helped develop a new customer relationship management (CRM) system and was part of new artificial intelligence initiatives, including Telstra's first internal chatbot.
She later took up a position at telecommunications company Vocus for a year before moving to NAB. As a senior business analyst there, Wendy is part of a team evolving and refining the online banking facilities.
Her achievements have been recognised as a finalist in the Australia China Alumni Awards, in the category of AMET – Young Australia China Alumni of the Year Award.
Advice for other international students
International students can find many different support systems at RMIT, whether it be social clubs or study groups.
Wendy said finding the confidence to speak in class was a major benefit in her education journey and she encourages others to do the same.
“I come from a Chinese background, where the culture values being humble and being hardworking, but not necessarily being heard,” she said.
“Whereas here in Western culture, I think every individual's voice is very much valued.
“Initially, I was challenged by that. I always hesitated before I asked a question in class or before I raised my opinion in class.
“Really, it's about making your voice heard and throwing yourself out there. Don't overthink and don't think people will judge you because Australia is such a multicultural country where all the opinions are so welcome.
“Just be brave, put yourself out there and make your voice heard. It will bring students so many more opportunities.”
Story: Kate Jones