Image credit: Ritika Saxena
This year’s edition of the Melbourne International Student Conference (MISC) took place online for the second year running, and again was as exciting and beneficial an event as ever for all involved. On Thursday, August 23rd, international students, recent graduates and industry experts joined in for an engaging day of workshops, panels, keynotes and networking.
With MISC Leadership Program participants Jayden Huang and Kimberly Mitchiko Clemencio as the bubbly international student co-hosts, the conference was inaugurated with an address from Nicholas Reece, the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne. The Deputy Lord Mayor highlighted the long-standing relationship between the City of Melbourne and its international students, including Melbourne’s recognition of how international students uniquely contribute to making Melbourne the city it is, and the city’s commitment to supporting international students and advocating to different levels of government for the return of international students currently abroad.
Anne Louise Thorbecke, MISC Project Manager, then delivered an opening address. Welcoming attendees to the eighth year of MISC and introducing the theme of “Reflect, Redefine, Respond”, Anne Louise also reflected upon the MISC Leadership Program that took place over several weeks in the lead-up to MISC. To find out more about the organisers and leaders of MISC, see our previous article here.
The keynote session was then delivered by former international student Christine Bernadette Almoite, who works within the Philippine government and is co-creator of media platform WOMAD Media. Christine reflected on her “Journey to Miss Universe”, from defining herself by appearance-related insecurities that were spurred by sexist remarks which she received growing up, to actively combating gender inequality and advocating for women’s causes. Christine shared her encouragement for others to speak up and stand up for what they believe in, as well as shifting the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to, rather, “What problems do you want to solve when you grow up?”
We had the pleasure of hearing from three international student alumni – Feifei Liao, Michael Tian and Sukant Suki – in a panel discussion on Meaningful Careers: Connecting with Passion. Feifei, the Managing Director of not-for-profit StoryisConnection, discussed the importance of “listening to your passion”. Michael Tian, a Peer Mentoring Officer at RMIT University, discussed the importance of taking advantage of opportunities such as university services and gaining career knowledge, networking through stimulating people’s curiosity, and “selling yourself”.
Meanwhile, Sukant (Suki) Singh, the author of Limitless Humans and Chasing Genius, reflected on his journey as a long-distance runner and author. He advised that life is a marathon rather than a rat race, and reflecting on how societal pressure may revolve around the likes of jobs and marriage, Suki believes that success is actually creating an impact on other people’s lives.
We then tuned into an insightful talk on “Your Journey to Authentic Leadership, presented by Emma Gin, Technology Consulting Manager at Accenture. Emma advised on why it’s crucial to make your own destiny rather than waiting for things to happen for you, why it is crucial to be resilient, and considering your vulnerability to be a strength rather than a weakness.
Aanchal Jiwrajka, Senior Design Researcher at Xero, then joined MISC for a workshop on Getting Your Dream Job: Networking and Pitching Skills. Aanchal’s advice included thinking of yourself as a brand (a big theme for the day!), being able to empathise with yourself, researching your clearly defined ‘destination’ goal, and how to go about reaching out to new contacts, skills that she shared as essential to one’s professional ‘toolkit’.
Also presenting on career readiness was Career Coach and Learning and Development Consultant, Mahboob Hossain, who in the afternoon delivered a presentation full of tips on becoming ‘career ready’. Mahboob emphasised the importance of knowing yourself and what your priorities in life are, to in turn develop goals that are true to you and in line with the career you pursue. As Mahboob pointed out, a lack of goals will inevitably result in merely following others. Mahboob also echoed the importance of creating your personal brand and putting yourself out there to meet people and develop connections, creating opportunities for yourself.
Finally, in the last session of the day, we heard International Student Success Stories from three inspiring female international student alumni reflecting on their journeys, all similarly leading from humble beginnings to current satisfaction. Hope Dolino took us on her journey starting as a volunteer, accepting each and every opportunity even if it wasn’t paid, giving it her all and ultimately creating a path to success within her career. Hope was followed by Lunnie Gan, whose top tips included saying YES to opportunities (in Lunnie’s case, this included an exchange programme to the US) and doing what you can (and love) with the faith that the dots will connect in the end. Finishing off the session was Makie Fuse, who took us on her career journey with advice including the importance of taking breaks, reflection and networking.
As with all of the speakers during the day, the panel took time to answer questions from all MISC attendees, offering plenty of advice specifically tailored to what the crowd wanted to know!
Lastly, MISC Project Lead Ritika Saxena closed off the stellar event with a reflection on how, despite the uncertainty that faces international students – along with the rest of the world! – right now, so long as we keep on working hard, trying, and doing so in unity and connection with each other, things are going to turn out just fine. Echoing the themes of Reflect, Redefine and Respond for the day, Ritika emphasised that international students need to have belief and confidence, apply the lessons learned during the day – and as such can expect to thrive no matter the situation!
And, with that, MISC 2021 came to a fulfilling close for another year. Jam-packed with relatable and inspiring speakers who left us with important lessons to take away and apply, what a day it was for all involved! You can now watch replays of the conference here! Keep in touch with MISC updates through Facebook.
Thank you to the wonderful efforts of the organisers and leaders of the Melbourne International Student Conference.
A special thank you to the City of Melbourne who partnered with Meld Community to deliver this project. You can follow the City of Melbourne international student page on Facebook and subscribe to their international student newsletter for news about upcoming events, programs and services for international students.