The 2019 Melbourne International Student Conference opened its doors once again to motivated students and industry professionals at the Monash University Campus in the heart of Melbourne. The annual event that was held by the Meld Community with support from City of Melbourne ran throughout the entire day, ending with a networking night at Melbourne Town Hall.
Each year the program aims to inspire and encourage international students to become leaders in this ever-changing world. This year the theme is “Failure, Future, Focus” – a topic many international students are uncomfortable facing.
Daizy Maan opened the conference with a stirring speech about rising through her failures. Daisy also spoke about her entrepreneurial pursuits with Deakin University’s startup entrepreneurship initiative – SPARK.
Ever the entrepreneur, Daizy is also the youngest Director at an Australian banking company.
In true Daizy fashion, she paved her own path and sought out opportunities like no other. Alongside her impressive journey, she experienced a multitude of highs and lows. Daizy spoke about going abroad to a country with little knowledge of their language, diving head first into social enterprise efforts, and her love for Model United Nations (UN).
“Be persistent and curious in your pursuit to make the world better,” she said to close, urging students to be brave in the face of failure.
Also touching on the theme of failure, Edwin Chaw embraced all the opportunists in the room with “How Imagination Comes from Failure and the Fear of Failure”. Teaching everyone about the role failure and imagination plays in success. Edwin’s inspiring story reminds us that there are many more paths to our future, apart from the one we tunnel vision ourselves into. A short post-seminar Q&A was filled with laughter and people taking turns in recounting their own funny personal dealings with failure.
I spoke to Laura Acevedo, a leadership and management student at Australian Pacific college, who heard about the event through ISANA. She said that Edwin’s words encouraged her to change her perspective of failure as a “new beginning” and “to be curious and keep connecting”.
The conference continued with a panel of four leaders, each managing unique multicultural organisations. The moderator, Anne Louise Thorbecke, chatted with Elena Gao from Melbourne Football Club (MFC); our very own Samantha Chew from Meld Magazine; Tegan McCarthy from Rainbow Connection; and Tom Riley from Batyr. Anne Louise explored what it takes to navigate and lead a culturally inclusive group of people.
At lunch break, a delightful assortment of sandwiches, coffees, and juices filled everyone’s appetite as chatter filled the air. Dr. Elizabeth Snuggs, from Monash University, then invited us to utilise a practical and business approach in “the leap beyond study, embracing what’s next”. Using drawings, writings, and team brainstorming activities Elizabeth asked us to think about our initial career goals, and then focus on the steps necessary to refine and refocus ways of achieving them.
Following a quick 30-minute break, the participants could then choose between two workshops in each breakout session. The first two were “Cultivating well-being skills for success” by Elva Zhang or “Reflection and your career” by Tyson Day. I tried Elva Zhang’s session, where she introduced us to wellbeing exercises that can support our life as international students here. She taught us ways to be our own best friend as a method to cope with the harshest critic of all, ourselves.
The workshop was quickly followed by Josh Farr’s “Learning from failure: creating a fulfilling career.” He spoke of starting initiatives and failing but then finding his passion and the path he wanted to follow afterward.
Ayush Tarway, who is studying electrical and computer systems at Monash University reflected on Elizabeth’s interactive workshop. Ayush believed it was important for his career path,“it’s better to plan your goals instead of waiting until it comes…be very thorough and include what comes after,” he said. I asked him about his favourite speakers and he praised Josh and Tyson because of their inspiring charm.
Closing this long day of inspiring talks and workshops, the MC thanked all the established and aspiring entrepreneurs for attending and participating in the conference, reminding us that the event wasn’t finished yet. Everyone was invited to the networking night where students chatted with all the speakers and industry veterans who attended the event, while being served drinks and tapas food.
In the midst of eating, I met with Jacine and Vivi, who are both studying Commerce in Melbourne. Vivi, who was encouraged to come by her teacher felt lucky to have participated in the event. “Although I’m very young, and it’s my first year in Uni, it’s not too early for me to think about my future career. Today I got a lot of useful ideas” she said.
For Jacine, Daizy’s opening keynote fuelled her motivation. “She’s female, she’s successful and I can take her as my role model…..I’m kind of fighting for motivation and her speech is so inspirational,” Jacine said. When asked about her renewed view of failure, Jacine answered, “initially failure is embarrassing…but after I listened to the speeches I was like okay it’s part of life, it’s a minor thing, so it’s good that it changed the way I look at failure”.
Networking ceased when all attention was pulled by the one-and-only, Daizy Maan, announcing her outstanding networker and Anne Louise revealing the winner of the signed Melbourne Demons jersey.
After taking photos the moderator concluded the networking night. I asked Jacine and Vivi if they would come again and recommend their friends to visit the next conference. A collective “yes of course!” resounded.