More than 160 high school students were tasked with solving Sydney’s congestion and designing the next ‘big thing’ in the water bottle industry as part of the inaugural Experience UNSW Business Day.
Students from Years 10 and 11 arrived from all over Sydney for an in-depth experience of what UNSW Business School has to offer. They chose from 7 interactive workshops, networked with clubs and societies, heard first-hand information from a panel of students and learnt about opportunities in Career Accelerator.
Event organiser Hannah Carr said the day was the perfect opportunity to have a genuine university experience.
“It takes away some of the ambiguity of studying at university and we hope to have given attendees a little insight into what their life might be like as a UNSW Business School student,” Ms Carr said.
“We’ve heard from students that they often find it difficult to choose where to study without having ever been to the university.”
The day received outstanding feedback from students and parents. The mother of an attendee said the event had renewed her son’s motivation to study.
“He attended the Economics and Business Management workshops and can’t stop talking about how enjoyable and interesting they were,’ she said.
“I am very pleased to see a renewed enthusiasm towards his learning, thanks to his very positive experience at the business day.”
Getting the inside scoop
Student ambassadors from the UNSW Business Society were floating around on the day to share their university experiences with the 15 and 16-year-olds.
Sally Song, a sub-committee member of the student society, spoke to Naomi Gonzalez, a student at Freshwater Senior Campus about the transition from high school to university.
“Moving to university was a shock to the system, my school was very obscure and not many of my friends came to UNSW,” Ms Song said.
“Making friends was difficult at first but joining the (UNSW) Business Society helped and I got involved in the sub-committees and all the social events.”
For Ms Gonzalez, the highlight of the day was meeting people from around Sydney and learning about actuarial studies.
“Everyone here seems really friendly and nice, and it’s been a highlight for me to see a wide-range of people at the sessions,” the Year 11 student said.
“I learnt that actuarial studies involves a lot of dedication to your studies and a lot of the jobs that will exist in the future when I graduate don’t exist yet.”
The economics of love
Students were introduced to the ‘economics of love’ by Associate Professor Alberto Motta.
“Every choice is an economic choice,” he said.
“Imagine you are one of two people left in the world and the other person is your perfect partner, but they are in Europe and it will take you 90 years to get there – what do you do?”
The high schoolers were introduced to economic concepts like marginal utility and opportunity cost.
“We study choices and behaviour in how society works – that is economics,” Associate Professor Motta said.
“Almost everything you do is a choice between alternative options, every decision you make is important.”
The Year 10 and 11 students were asked to predict what would happen if a group of people spotted money on the ground.
A student from Sydney Boys High hypothesised people would run for the money because they were selfish. Another student said people would cooperate and discuss the best way to split the money.
When the experiment was put to the students, only two ran to the money and split it evenly between themselves.
“When we want to test a theory, we build the model and then we test the model,” the economics academic said.
“We arrive at certain conclusions about human behaviour to try to find ways to improve society.”
Solving Sydney’s congestion issues
Students proposed a real-time transport app to unlock congestion issues in Sydney. The introductory workshop to the School of Information Systems challenged the high schoolers to think of ways technology could make public transport more efficient during peak times.
“What we are trying to do is called sandboxing, we allow the students to work on the problem as if they are actually solving that problem,’ Lecturer in Information Systems, Yenni Tim said.
“We are trying to guide them into building a solution they think will solve the problem.”
Alerting bus drivers to empty bus stops was one of the ideas proposed by students from Moriah College.
“If the drivers know there are people waiting at a certain bus stop, they can determine whether the bus can go straight through,” the student said.
Ms Tim said the activity is a taster of the mobile app development course in the School of Information Systems.
“It’s something very similar to one of the assignments we gave to students in that course,” she said.
What’s unique about UNSW?
The visiting high schoolers had the chance to hear what a panel of UNSW Business School students thought of their time studying at the University.
“The best thing about UNSW is the opportunities,” second year Commerce student Aaron Mathew said.
Career Accelerator, a suite of opportunities only available to UNSW Business School students, was a recurring topic among the panellists.
“I went to Jakarta for four weeks working at the Commonwealth Bank, it was a for-credit internship where you could choose between going to Hong Kong, Shanghai and other destinations,” final year Commerce and Economics student Saul Brady said.
“Going to Shanghai was one of the best decisions I’ve made at university so far,” Mr Mathew said.
The Year 10 and 11 students submitted their own questions about the Business School through Slido, with many interested in doing dual degrees.
“I decided to study Commerce and Law because I liked the idea of a double degree being doubly employable,” student ambassador Georgia Couter said.
“I have a lot of competing interests so with a double degree I never get sick of what I’m studying.
“I remember I was very nervous on the morning the ATARs were released and as soon as the result came out, I enrolled straight away because I was so excited to get to UNSW.”
A key piece of advice offered by the panellists were tips on how to manage studying with other interests.
“Over time you get a lot better at managing your time at university,” Mr Brady said.
“It’s all about learning how to prioritise your study compared to your social life,” Ms Couter said.
“I like to make a list of priorities and balance that with other activities.”
Tommy Lim, a UNSW Business School alumnus and business owner said his experience at university validated his ability to see projects through to completion.
“Going through university is a sign that you’re good at finishing something and gives you the skills to work independently,” he said.
High school, university… what’s next?
Going to university is a big leap for high schoolers and Experience UNSW Business Day helped the 15 and 16-year-olds understand what it’s all about.
Students who attended were interested in a wide range of careers in business.
“I’m excited to hear more about the different perspectives of business and marketing,” Year 10 student Innika said.
“In the future, I want something to do with running a management business.”
Harjot Gill from Baulkham Hills High School said he was interested in studying a Bachelor of Commerce.
“I want to get a feel for the university because I’m interested in studying business here, so I want to experience what it’s going to be like”, Mr Gill said.
“After university I want to get into business management.”
Kerry Turner, a career adviser from Moriah College asked her students what they were expecting to get out of the day.
“They said, we just really want to know what we can study at university and how flexible that’s going to be,” Ms Turner said.
“They want to get a bit more of an idea about what the majors contain – like what the difference is between finance and economics.”
The adviser liked the idea of inviting Year 10 students to the day since they haven’t yet chosen their HSC subjects.
“Hopefully they get a good idea of what their majors are going to consist of, and if it is applicable to them,” Ms Turner said.