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Melbourne International Student Conference 2016 Day 1: The Future of Work

Lunnie Gan

Mon May 09 2016


THIS year’s Melbourne International Student Conference got students to think about their careers and where the future of work was heading. Lunnie Gan has her report on the first day of MISC 2016.  

What does it mean for students to consider the future of work? And what does the future of work look like for them?

These were the pervading questions posed to students and industry delegates at Meld Community’s annual Melbourne International Student Conference on May 6 and 7.

Hosted at the Woodward Conference Centre, the first day of the conference asked students and industry members working within the international student and education sectors to consider the employability options for students upon graduation and understand the direction in which the job market would take and their role in shaping it.

Ivan Lim on “The Future of Work”


MISC 2016’s keynote speaker on day one was Ivan Lim who spoke candidly to students about his career experiences. | Photo: Trinh Le

After a formal welcome to students by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, the conference kick-started with a keynote presentation by speaker Ivan Lim, who shared his experiences and insights on the importance of adaptability and the “crazy world” that is the future of work.

The CEO and co-founder of online designer furniture retailer Brosa spoke with students candidly about the trajectory of his career before delving into ways students could better position themselves in the increasingly globalised job market of the future. 

“We always think that there is a point in life where we will arrive, but we never do. We are constantly moving and growing,” Mr Lim said in his address to students.

Mr Lim also encouraged students to focus on building a future that was meaningfully driven for them.

Future Focus Forum

Maggie Hill from FYR reveals the importance of enterprise skills

Maggie Hill from Foundation for Young Australians reveals the importance of enterprise skills at the Future Focus Forum. | Photo: Trinh Le

Following Mr Lim’s keynote presentation was the Future Focus Forum — featured as part of City of Melbourne’s Melbourne Knowledge Week — which aimed to provide young professionals with the means to adapt and prepare for a new reality.

Addressing students at a workshop regarding the current employment trends, Manager of Grad Connection Andrew Purchas, told students not to “self-eliminate” themselves from jobs and advised students to keep an open attitude towards different careers opportunities.

Dr Jasvir Kaur, a teaching associate and member of International Education Association of Australia, also shared with students a personal story about the the gap between dreams and reality. After initially failing to secure a job upon the completion of her degree, Dr Kaur told students that they “can visualise [their] plan, but be fluid yet not rigid [about it]”.

Meanwhile, Monash University’s Multicultural Employment Consultant Danny Ong, spoke passionately about the need for students to discover their career interests and not their parents’. As a former international student, Mr Ong related the importance of a passion-driven job and reminded students to stand in an employer’s shoes and ask if they would hire someone like themselves.

Creating leaders: Open Space Technology Discussion

Furthering the theme of the conference, students were then able to put their learning into practice in the Open Space Technology Discussion. 

Separated into groups, students were empowered to discuss and develop upon ideas brought forth by the students themselves. With little in the way of facilitation, students became leaders in their own right, leading discussions and shaping their chosen topics in the whatever manner they felt would benefit their ideas.

In doing so, students became more encouraged to participate and engage and thus created new and creative ways of thinking amongst the MISC participants, evidenced by the wild gestures and exciting chatter all throughout.

Start-ups and the importance of untapped work experience

Audience members focused on discussions throughout the day. | Photo: Trinh Le

Audience members focused on discussions throughout the day. | Photo: Trinh Le

A presentation on start-ups provided pointed insight into the benefits of start-up ventures and the untapped work experience opportunities that come from them. 

The thrust of more responsibility and the added value of recognition and satisfaction are the unique opportunities people who join start-ups are entitled to. 

Outcome.Life CEO Gerald Holland also spoke of the art of networking, calling it the “biggest asset” to start-ups. Mr Holland suggested MISC attendees learn how to network well and test the market for start-ups that are only just beginning.

Professional Networking Night

Photo: Lunnie Gan

Mystery guests of the Professional Networking Night reveal themselves to students. | Photo: Lunnie Gan

To cap off the first day, students attending the conference had the chance to professionally network with industry members and other students.

As is the tradition of the popular Professional Network Night, “secret” industry guests were deployed within the busy foyer. By the end of the evening, the industry guests revealed themselves to students. Each selected one student they felt stood out in the hour-long networking event, later inviting them for coffee for a chance to discuss potential opportunities.

Stay tuned for our highlights from MISC 2016’s second day and our deeper look at the Future Focus Forum.