How to set yourself up for a phenomenal year in the first weeks of university

By David Lawlor

Getting back in the swing of things – it’s not easy. Holidays are fun, and there’s always the tricky temptation of holding onto them even once semester has started. Believe me, I know. I’d like to share why it’s best to do the opposite. Instead of putting it off, dive into that new-year, new-you attitude and get a head start on the year to come.

Hello, my name is David. I’m in the final year of my Commerce degree (Economics and Finance, like pretty much everyone else) with a Concurrent Diploma in Applied Mathematics. This is my fourth year in the degree so when it comes to starting the semester, I’ve got a bit of experience!

My advice depends hugely on where you are in your BCom journey. For the first-year students, or jaffies who recently attended Orientation - you should prioritise attending lectures and tutorials and reaching out to student clubs. By contrast, final-year students know the gig and will likely already have a thousand different tabs open for many graduate application websites.

Nevertheless, here are my tips to BCom students to get set for the year ahead:

Last semester's subject notes with over-the-top annotations.
  • Find a method of learning that works for you. I like to print out and annotate lecture slides (a massive time-saver) and create folders for my subjects. You may want to write everything down, scribble notes on your iPad, or OneNote it all. This is the time to experiment and determine what you like and what works for you.
  • Attend your lectures and tutorials on time. Falling behind at uni takes a lot of work to catch up. Attending your classes from the start will save you time and is also a great way to meet fellow classmates.

Apply to join some clubs! The first two weeks are when many clubs and societies start recruitment, and you won't want to miss this. For the uninitiated, there are three broad categories:

Clubs are the easiest way to meet other BCom students!

Clubs are an amazing way to meet future friends and stand out from the crowd. My advice is to try and join one club from each category. I met many friends when I took on the Director’s role at ESSA, expanded my network as a Consultant at 180 Degrees Consulting and witnessed some mighty battles at the Chess club.

Tip: If there are clubs that take your interest but you’re not yet ready to join, a great way to remain notified of their events is to follow them on Facebook. Also, some clubs recruit in both semesters.


For the extra-driven, Winter internships often begin recruiting during the first few weeks of uni. If you have an interest in a particular organisation, check out their profile for internship opportunities. For soon-to-be-graduates, the first quarter of the year is often when many graduate opportunities so don’t leave things too late. Later in the semester, case competitions will start to emerge, so be on the lookout for those.

Lastly, know where you can get support. The BCom Newsletter is an excellent source for many helpful programs and events. Likewise Stop 1, Student Ambassadors (like me!) or the Melbourne Peer Mentor Program are ways to get course and career advice. Please take advantage of them!

By doing the work now, you can plant the seeds of success for the rest of the semester. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to follow my own advice and prepare some graduate applications.

- David Lawlor