Maria S. Cruz- Master of International Business

How has your journey been since completing your Masters?

While transitioning into work at Bank Australia was seamless, I think that it is appropriate to note that the journey to get there was challenging. I arrived at the doorstep of the job market with high post-graduation ambitions and was met by a confronting turn of events and a barely open window of opportunity. Options for my visa status were scarce but The University of Melbourne gave me a strong foundation and roots in this country and it was up to me to define the path from there. 

Finding a job in a foreign country requires some serious resilience and grit. My journey is and continues to be supported by clear priorities and a good understanding of my competitive advantage which helped me narrow and define employers. Most importantly, the understanding helped me understand what impact I can make for the employer. That helped tremendously in my journey and is a driver of my joys of working at Bank Australia.

How would you describe your time at Unimelb?

Most my days were filled with more extracurricular activities than the spent in the classroom, and that was the case for me ever since high school. I think one of my most memorable and fondest experiences was joining 180 Degrees Consulting. The club has matured so much, since 2016. 

I appreciated how practical the organisation is and the level of work they produce. 180 Degrees Consulting partners with social enterprises and not for profit organisations. The student consultants, really help not only develop strategies but also aid in implementation of those solutions. We got to work with so many incredible business leaders around the country, and learn from them. I also worked at the Faculty of Business and Economics, and I tried to be involved in every talk or conference, that I could be a part of, even as a volunteer. 

Most importantly, I spent a lot of time creating and nurturing relationships at university. Some teammates became friends and have become family to me in Melbourne.

What were some opportunities that youd consider to be the most valuable to you during your time at Unimelb?

There are two buckets of opportunities at the university and they work hand in hand. These oppprtunities enrich your personal life, and professional life. Clubs, organisations, talks, conferences, networking events of all kinds are offered. These were pivotal in shaping my experience in MBS. Through 180 Degrees Consulting, FBE and University of Melbourne, I developed some phenomenal relationships I continue to hold close to me today.

What were some key takeaways from your degree that helped you transition into your professional world?

I think Master’s coursework degrees help assist you to forge your interests, however it takes a lot of internal work to help you understand what path you wish to take. The more exposure you get from your degree, and the more time you get to think about what that all means, and how it fits in, really helped me. It’s one thing to get a job, but to get a job or start a business that you are truly passionate about, is what we should be preparing for.

What were some of the challenges you faced while transitioning into the workplace?

The biggest challenge was the transition to be an early riser! I avoided morning classes at uni whenever I could. Kidding aside, there was not much of a challenge. In fact, it becomes much easier. There is no delineation between international students and local students. There are just teammates in the workplace. It’s much more cohesive and as long as we are our genuine selves, there shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

What advice do you have for current students and recent graduates?

One of the things that I always tell my mentees, is to be honest with themselves. 

Give yourself some space, time, and know your limits. Know where to draw the line. Know that if you don’t achieve the things you desire through one pathway. There are other parallel paths that can take you to the same destination. 

I came into my masters with almost 5-6 years of work experience, but at a career talk, I was told I had a solid resume, but they wouldn’t’t hire me because I didn’t have any local work experience. This was in the first semester of my degree, and think hearing that really shaped my master’s journey. 

I would encourage international students to look out for opportunities where you can get local work experience, there are many organisations that’d be glad to have you on-board. Know what you want, know where you can be impactful, and find or create that space for yourself to thrive. 

Maria S Cruz

Master of International Business

If you’d like to ask Maria more about her experiences, connect with her on LinkedIn and mention you saw her Alumni of MBSSA interview. 

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