Category Archives: Campus Ambassadors

140000-Teamwork-290x290

Team player: managing group assignments

Group assignments suck, no matter how good your group is. Even if you’re working with great people, it’s almost impossible to coordinate group meetings. Everyone has different schedules and out-of-uni commitments that turn group management into a hell-on-earth situation. And if you’ve got a bad group? You’re going to need some of the following group assignment solutions…

Planning your work:
In terms of planning advice, there’s really one main tip I can give you: plan ahead. Leaving group assignments to the last minute never works out, and more often than not, leads to painful all-nighters and one person doing all the work (never fun). A great tool for planning group meetings is the UniBuzz app for iPhone, which lets you create groups, plan meetings and invite your friends or group partners. You can also message the members of your group (via data, meaning essentially FREE messages!), or contact them via email or phone. Pretty convenient, huh?

Document and version management:
If you’ve ever written a group essay, you know how frustrating it is when not everyone has the right version of the document, or people do their work in different programs and save it in different file formats. One solution is Google Docs, which lets you create and share documents with others, who can edit and write in the documents. You can also all be online and writing at the same time, though I will admit this can get confusing sometimes, as one person may be trying to edit another’s work as they’re still writing. If you don’t want to use Google Docs, you can always just email everyone the new version (tedious) or continually upload new ones to a Facebook Group page, which can also be confusing, as there will be a tonne of documents with the same name on the one page.

Working together:
The hardest part of group work for many of us is working with people we don’t know well, as we have no idea what their work ethic is like, what their strengths are, or how committed they are to the group and to the assignment. Unfortunately, we don’t usually get to choose our own groups, and if we do, it’s likely that we aren’t in a class with our friends and will have to work with people we don’t know. Best case scenario: you’re lucky and get a group where everyone shares the work equally and is happy to have regular group meetings. Worst case scenario: you get a bad group, where you’re the only one putting in any effort, and you end up doing all the work yourself. In this case, you should push your team members and try motivate them as nicely as possible. If all else fails, speak to your lecturer or tutor, because at the end of the day you don’t want to fail because of circumstances that were out of your control.

130500-Career-Fair-Dream-Jo

Career fairs: not your average carnival

When you hear the words ‘careers fair’, you probably think of a bunch of very serious looking adults in suits with pamphlets and application forms, ready to pounce on unsuspecting undergraduate students at any moment. Well, I’m not going to lie to you, there are pamphlets, and some suits, but they aren’t super-serious people, and they most definitely will not attack or intimidate you.

Careers fairs are actually quite a bit of fun. I’m talking tea cup rides, balloons, and ice cream trucks, freaking fabulous right?! More than that, they’re very useful, and not just for those of us who are (shiver) graduating at the end of the year. So what happens at a careers fair and who should go to them?

The program

There isn’t actually a program, but depending on the set up, you’ll probably receive a map upon entering. On this map are all the companies who are there to see you, yes, you. A lot of people don’t go to these fairs because they think they don’t need them, that they’ll be too intimidating, or that they won’t know what to ask the many, many potential employers that are there. The companies that come to these fairs are here to meet potential employees, and it’s a great opportunity for you to learn about different industries, and different company approaches, values, and business strategies. That way, when it comes time for you to apply, you’ll know exactly what to say when they ask you how you feel you reflect company values, and what you can contribute to the company culture.

The main point of a careers fair is to build industry connections between unis and companies, and companies and students.

Who should go?

Everyone!!! Yes, even the first years! Careers fairs are a great opportunity to learn about different fields that you might be interested in, and you may find that the degree you’re doing isn’t what you need to pursue your dream job, thus giving you the opportunity to transfer before you’ve wasted too much time. They’re also for internship seekers (aka penultimate year students); companies are always on the lookout for go-getters, people who actively seek out opportunities and take advantage of them. Lastly, they are of course for those students graduating at the end of the year, and if I’m going to tell anyone that they absolutely need to go to a careers fair, it’s this group. The company reps will give you any information you ask for, either in verbal or pamphlet form, and can also give you some sneaky tips on the interview process!

So, if there’s one coming up at your uni, schedule that baby in!

130500-Starting-Uni-3290x29

What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #3

Tip #3: Ask for things!

 If you’re unsure about whether something is possible, you won’t find out unless you say something. Yet it’s very easy to feel reluctant or daunted, and not say anything. Requesting something harmless can’t hurt anyone. You’ll be surprised what’s possible if you merely go up to someone personally and talk to them about it.

For example, when I started university, I thought that timetables were set in stone, and that I couldn’t change the decisions made by university administration and teachers. At the start of last year, I happened to meet a teacher who was coordinating a subject of mine and I casually mentioned that the only class time offered would result in a clash on my timetable. One day later, I received an email from the teacher notifying me that she had rescheduled the class – something which I had never thought possible, and which never would have happened had I said nothing. Moral of the story: ask for things even if you’re not sure whether they can happen, because the worst that can happen is that you’ll be told “no”. And who knows what good things could be possible?

See here for tips #1 and  #2 (it’ll be worth it).

130500-Starting-Uni-2-3290x

What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #2

Tip #2: There are HEAPS of people

I mean heaps. HEAPS. Universities are the world’s largest educational institutions, and even a typical small university is much, much bigger than a large school. Most of us who’ve graduated from a typical school on Earth have no idea what it’s like to be part of such a large campus population. While we’re all told the statistics when we start university, the practical consequences of being one of so many students don’t sink in until you’ve been in this situation for a while.

One of the first things you’ll notice are the massive queues, usually outside essential services which everyone needs to use – getting a student card, buying your books, enrolling in subjects. Here at the University of Melbourne, there are more than 50,000 students. That’s 50,000 people who need to do those same basic obligations that are common to all students. If you’ve ever waited in a queue for several hours, you might realise that avoiding peak times – “the rush” – can save you a lot of time and stress.

This also applies to using libraries. It can be easy to be fooled by a large, majestic library that has 50 copies of every book that you need. However, if there are 200 people in your class, 50 copies doesn’t seem like that much. Most people are going to miss out – and that’s why you need to get there early and beat the crowd. This applies to all kinds of things at university with limited supply and massive demand. It could mean applying for a scholarship months in advance, or it could be as simple as waking up early for a morning coffee.

Another result of having heaps (HEAPS) of people in one place means that all kinds of views and interests are represented, and it’s possibly the easiest place in the world to find people who share your interests. For example, if you love ukuleles (if you do, please know that I’m totally not judging you), but only one in every 100 people is interested in ukuleles, it sounds like it might be hard to meet someone who shares your passion. Yet, in a university of 50,000 students, that would make 500 people who love ukuleles. So a Ukulele Appreciation Club could have 500 members – 500 people who could play ukuleles together. (Still not judging.)

Did you know that the Co-op sells ukuleles?

Did you know that the Co-op sells ukuleles?

 

See here for tips #1 and #3 (yes, you want to).

130500-Starting-Uni-1-3290x

What you’re not told when starting uni – Tip #1

Tip #1: Non-compulsory classes are non-compulsory for a reason

It’s not easy to become a university tutor/lecturer/subject coordinator. It takes years of hard work, undergraduate and postgraduate study, plus original contributions to your field as well as continually having to prove your credibility. In general, teachers at university know what they’re doing.

Yet, as you look at your timetable, you may notice that while some classes have compulsory attendance, others are optional. For those of us who’ve graduated from a typical school on Earth, the idea of not attending a scheduled class is as unthinkable as going back to MySpace. Why would so many teachers choose to give students the option of not attending a class? It’s no less work for them, as they have to turn up and teach the class anyway.

The reason comes from the fact that the vast majority of teachers know that some content is not useful to all students. They carefully choose which lessons are compulsory and which are optional based on what needs to be taught to all students, and what might be prior or unnecessary information for individuals. This is why most subjects have a compulsory component (usually a tutorial or a seminar) and an optional component (usually a lecture).

For example, if you’re taking a subject which has some overlaps with your previous learning, you may find that some lectures will simply be going over content which you already know, for the benefit of others who don’t have your background. However, a lot of students who find themselves in this position and know that they’re about to attend a lecture in which they’ll learn nothing new, will do so anyway, because they feel that it would be bad to miss it.

However, this is not true. In fact, this is exactly why almost all teachers make attendance at particular classes optional. They know that some students could put that time to better use.

Some people allow this new-found liberty to rush to their heads, and don’t attend any classes that are optional, and of course I’m not recommending that. But if you find that you could make better use of your time than attending a class which will cover material that you already know, remember that you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong – rather, that’s what your teachers want you to do. That’s why they make certain classes optional.

See here for tips #2 and #3  (you know you want to).

130500-Starting-Uni-290x290

What you’re not told when starting uni…

A long time ago, a wise old person said, “Always begin a blog post with a quote from a wise old person.” More recently, my boss said, “That’s a really lame way to conceal the fact that you couldn’t write an introduction. Also, I don’t think anyone ever said that.” She’s probably right, but I think that this paragraph successfully demonstrates that starting things can be tricky.

Starting university is probably almost as hard as opening an article – unless the first thing you do at university is writing an article, in which case, RESPECT – and like all new experiences, you learn through experience. It is customary for every community to pass on the wisdom of the elders to the young and inexperienced. I suppose that this sort of happened for me, because my sister started university two years before me. Unfortunately, she was studying veterinary science, so her sagacious guidance, which included, “Don’t stand within kicking range of a horse,” and, “Don’t be fooled by appearances – Chihuahuas are vicious,” has not been particularly helpful to me as an Arts student. Thus, with the bottomless confidence of a fourth-year, I will endeavour to impart my more generally applicable wisdom, as it were. (I don’t think “as it were” contributes any meaning to that sentence – it’s just something I say to appear wise.)

Of course, I, like most students, received heaps of good advice about taking opportunities, staying organised, studying, managing assessments and so on, but there are a few things that academic advisors will never say.

Here are the top three things I wish people had told me before I started university:

1. Non-compulsory classes are non-compulsory for a reason

2. There are heaps of people

3. Ask for things

Now that you’re an expert on starting university, check out my YouTube clip below for a musical version, (let’s face it, everything sounds better in song) then go get ’em, tiger!

130000-Xmas-Gift-290

I hate Christmas shopping!!!

Buying Christmas presents for my friends and family is a yearly struggle for me, and it’s far better to do it earlier rather than later, as I was reminded last year when my commitments at work forced me to do my Chrissie shopping last-minute. Figuring out what to get everyone is an even bigger struggle, so here’s my guide for what to get everyone, from the Fitness Freak, to the Sci-Fi Fan, the Beauty Buff, and the Creative Cook.

 

For the Fitness Freak

Working out has become very fancy over the past few years, and these days everyone seems to be monitoring everything from their daily steps, to their heart rate and quality of sleep. Luckily, this means that every fittie needs their tech. Cue the perfect prezzie opportunity!

If they’re an avid bike rider:

Help them ride in style, with funky helmets by Nutcase. They come in crazy cool colours and prints, including (personal faves) Flyboy, Urban Caution, and Watermelon. Other cute bike accessories can be found here.

If they’re a general fittie:

Opt for the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP to track activity and sleep, including calories burned, steps taken, kilometres travelled. Either is a great fitness buddy, though I personally find the Jawbone UP to be a little more stylish!

 

For the Sci-fi/Science Fan

A Game of Thrones is HUGE right now, so the book set is a perfect gift for a newbie, as well as a whole range of other themed gifts and gadgets from Doctor Who to The Big Bang Theory and others.

 

For the Beauty Buff

The Co-op has a fabulous and extensive range of beauty products, from brands like Burt’s Bees, MOR Cosmetics, Karen Murrell, butter LONDON and Perfect Potion. My mum and sister are also big fans (especially of butter LONDON), so they’re definitely going to find some of the following under the tree this year!

 

For the Creative Cook

Cookbooks have a come a long way, and here are a few that dad will love!

For the baker, hopefully they’ll share their delicious creations!

And for the vegos…

If you really don’t want to head in-store, you can buy everything for everyone online in 10 minutes flat with delivery across Australia – too easy! Plus, check out our online Gift Guide – you’re guaranteed to find what you want for the person who has everything.

130000-Beach-290

5 things to do over summer break

The warmer months are upon us, so it’s time to start planning summer activities to make the most of your summer. Some things, like learning to surf, working, or going camping don’t need tonnes of planning in advance, but if you’re thinking of au pairing, or travelling internationally, then you’ll need to start the planning process now.

Here are some ideas for the summer:

Be a Beach Bum
Whether you’re lounging on the beach or learning to surf the waves like a pro, the beach is a classically Aussie place to spend the summer. The top beaches to visit, and some of the best locations to learn to surf in Australia are: Bondi Beach, Point Break (Noosa, QLD), Byron Bay, the Northern Beaches, Bells Beach (VIC), Crescent Head (NSW) and Margaret River (WA).

Get Back to Nature
Now, I’m not that great with bugs (I go a little nuts with the Aeroguard), so I loathe camping, but admire anyone who can pee behind a tree. If you want to get back to nature, and get in some hiking, canoeing, and/or sightseeing, there are great camping spots all around Australia, including: Bonnie Vale (Royal National Park, NSW), Acacia Flats (Blue Mountains National Park, NSW), Bellarine Bayside (Portarlington, VIC), Wye River Reserve (VIC), Boreen Point (Sunshine Coast, QLD), Borumba Deer Park (Gympie Area, QLD), Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park (WA), D’Entrecasteaux National Park (WA).

Make Some Moolah
For me, the summer holidays are all about working, working, and working. Last year, I was lucky enough to work Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, AND New Years Day. The bad thing about those shifts? A lot were midnighters, and I missed a lot of fun holiday time. The good part? Money, people, money. There’s plenty of public holidays during the summertime, and that means public holiday rates! Which means it’s the perfect time to work your butt off, plus it sets you up for the year ahead, and may let you have a mid-sem break getaway later on.

Live The Nanny Diaries
Ah, the glamorous life of an au pair, travelling overseas, living in a house for free, and looking after kids to make money. It doesn’t sound too bad, but it can go awry quickly. A friend of mine decided to go au pairing, and found a family with good references, but when she got there, she was given a room in the basement, the family was rude, and lastly, refused to pay her. She had been counting on that money to get her through the trip, and struggled for the rest of her time there. The lesson: always take enough money to last you the whole trip, don’t count on anything. You may not like the family, the accommodation, or the work, and may have to abandon au pairing. That said, I’ve also heard great stories, from people who loved it, so do your research and hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Grow Your Good Karma
Volunteering or doing charity work is very fulfilling, and it can be lots of fun, as well as great work experience (gotta think about that resume!), so find something you’re passionate about, and go for it! I suggest: animal shelters, environmental clean up, or the various elephant and turtle sanctuaries in South East Asia.

130000-Ball-290x290

Have a ball for free!

130000-Ball-290x290Sometimes, the best things in life are free. Instead of spending a million dollars (approximately) on a candle-lit, horseback, catered tour through the National Gallery of Australia, why not just relax and enjoy any number of free activities in our fair country? Here are some free day out ideas! You can bask in the natural beauty of beaches and gardens, or hit up free concerts and events – every state has its gems. The opportunities are limitless, and also mean that you can spend your time bonding with friends instead of fussing about cash.

It’s warming up as we head toward the end of the year, making it the perfect time to head to the beach – think Bondi, St. Kilda, Scarborough, Glenelg and Broadbeach for some of the more famous Aussie spots. After all, there’s nothing like a bit of beach cricket, and the Australian water is amazing!

For an awesome picnic (and a great date spot!), head to your local botanic gardens. The picnic areas and plant life make for beautiful scenery, and there’s no better way to enjoy a cold drink and cheese than in the blissful surroundings of a well-kept garden.

Then, of course, there’s the exercise things. I should exercise more, come to think of it. Anyway, why not spend a day or two going on a great hike? There are popular hiking tracks in every state, offering incredible views and a range of different bushwalk types. Check out this list for some great Aussie trails.  If bicycles are your thing, perhaps look in to investing in a good one (the Co-op sells a great range of fun helmets and other accessories too) or even hire one for a day – it can be pretty cheap so shop around.

If you’d rather go to an organised event, or for more cheap day out ideas, each state plays host to a ridiculous variety of free events – this includes free public lectures, concerts, art exhibitions and performances. Bars are good places to find free gigs, and there are free art galleries dotted around each city. For an immensely comprehensive list of events coming up (free or not), check out EverGuide.

So, fight the man! You don’t need to spend heaps of money to have a good time – just do some research and you’ll have a blast on a shoestring budget. Enjoy!

P.S. Just so we’re clear – no actual balls are being given out for free…

 

130000-Toothbrush290x290

So, like… do you want to move in with me?

Moving in with someone – anyone – is a big deal. Moving in with a partner though, is especially daunting. Why? Because moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend generally means that you guys are pretty serious and most likely looking towards spending your futures together.

Upon receiving this topic I immediately asked a friend what she thought, as she actually is thinking about moving in with her boyfriend. The first thing I asked was: ‘what would it mean to you?’, the answer I got was: ‘if I was moving in with my boyfriend, I’d expect an engagement to follow a while after’. After getting only a surprised ‘huh’ in response, she asked if I wouldn’t expect the same. In short, my answer is no. Now, you might be wondering why I’m telling you this little story. Well, the main reason is to emphasize that moving in with your significant other means different things to different people. For my friend, it means that the relationship is moving to the next level and the two of them are very serious about their future together. To me, moving in with someone I’m dating means getting to spend more time together, but isn’t something I would consider a super-duper big deal.

So, before you ask someone to move in with you, you should find out what they would expect to happen next, and be prepared to change your decision regarding whether or not to ask them to live with you.

The next thing you should do is ask yourself: am I ready to move in with my boyfriend/girlfriend, and do I even want to? Even if you aren’t expecting the relationship to get more serious, moving in with someone is still a big deal. It means sharing bills, rent, food, and space, and if you haven’t lived with anyone but your family before, it can be a big change. Consider whether you’re willing to share everything with someone else, and also consider how long you want the relationship to last. If you’re not too keen on being with this person for a really long time, don’t move in with them.

Lastly, I recommend some kind of trial, where you spend a few weeks being with them 24/7. For example, take an extended holiday or rent out a beach house together over the holidays. This way, you get to see what they’re like when you’re stuck together for ages. You get to experience any weird or annoying habits they may have, and you can decide whether or not you can deal with them.