Discovering Asia Pacific's potential in Melbourne

By Tessa Shaw

Touching down in the middle of one of our famous Melbourne winters hasn’t stopped Karla Caraan from developing her soft spot for one of the world’s most-loved cities.

The lure of an international education to bolster undergraduate studies was strong for Karla Caraan. Originally from Tanay in Rizal, a town just east of Manila, Caraan was initially drawn to the prospect of an education that would allow her to experience a new city, broaden her views, and discover a different way of living and learning.

“The world may seem smaller now that the internet makes accessibility easy, but it is our day-to-day encounters with the people we meet, from strangers, to classmates and professors, that truly make a difference in the way we see the world,” she explains. “Being in an unfamiliar territory opens up opportunities to new people and new experiences that I would not have discovered had I stayed home.”

Karla Caraan
Karla Caraan on campus at The University of Melbourne

Central to her motivation for learning from the best, Caraan quickly decided on Melbourne Business School (MBS) because of its international reputation. “It's the best Australian university!” Caraan says confidently. “I also appreciate the fact that there is a focus on the Asia Pacific region, because there is now a global focus on this part of the world and we've yet to see the region's full potential.”

Caraan declares that another reason for her decision to move here is Melbourne itself. “I've always wanted to go to Australia, and Melbourne has been the top of my list because of the arts, food and nature,” she explains. “From what I had heard through friends who have lived in Melbourne, this city offers the right mix of urbanisation and nature – and they were right!”

Melbourne is diverse and always buzzing with events: you’ll never get bored. Yet at the same time, there is an abundance of parks, beaches, and mountain regions that help take stress away. Melbourne has made moving to a new place easy. Karla Caraan

We find out more from Caraan about her journey to get here, and her thoughts so far about studying at MBS.

What was it like to apply for a Master’s program from overseas?

I found it really easy to apply to MBS! I only had to submit documentation for my undergraduate studies, write up a statement of purpose, submit my CV, and get a good grade for the IELTS to get admitted. I sought help from a student placement agency (IDP Philippines) to assist me with my IELTS and visa application requirements, so it was much easier than expected. In addition, MBS has extensive resources online, and a responsive admissions team who got back to me very quickly during the application period. And what I found really helpful is that for scholarships , MBS automatically considers applicants for available ones upon application so there is no additional step to do this. I have been fortunate enough to have been offered a Global Merit Scholarship through this process.

Why did you decide to study the Master of International Business (MIB)?

My motivation in undertaking the MIB stems from wanting to help companies back in the Philippines flourish, and break into the global market. There is a lot of potential in the Philippines, and the economy is growing. Yet, not many companies have successfully expanded overseas. My hope is that the MIB will help me cultivate the right mindset and attitude, and gain a deeper understanding of the latest management strategies and business frameworks, to start and grow a multinational company. I was also keen on meeting other like-minded people, and potentially leverage on these new friendships to contribute to both the local and global markets in the future.

Those are ambitious and inspiring goals! Having been here for nearly one semester, do you think your expectations will be met?

Yes! In fact, I’ve really enjoyed the learning process, in particular the focus on Asian businesses – something highly relevant to my goals. For example, we studied Jollibee (a Filipino multinational chain of fast food restaurants) as a case on international expansion in one of my foundation subjects this semester. In addition, there are electives on China and Asian business practices, and I'm actually taking one on Politics and Business in Post-Mao China – a topic I find particularly interesting in this day and age, and highly complementary to my MIB program.

I have also particularly enjoyed the group assignments because my classmates come from different countries and backgrounds, and this gives me a glimpse of what it might be like to work overseas where the market is so much more diverse. While I had some exposure to working with students from different nationalities during my undergrad years, doing so at a postgraduate level has so far given me a much richer and deeper experience in terms of exchanging ideas and views.

Students on the Melbourne Business Practicum at local app start-up, HobSpot

What do you love about being at MBS?

I love that MBS fosters a very supportive and pleasant environment for its students. There are always events and workshops that you can participate in to improve academic skills, personal effectiveness, and career prospects. I love that active participation is expected; it's really up to us to make the most of what we have, and MBS ensures that there are plentiful opportunities to begin with and that we maintain a go-getter attitude to grab them. For example, the Global Business Practicum (read World-Class Learning in Hong Kong) and Melbourne Business Practicum enable students to be part of a consulting team for either an Asian- or Australian-based company. It’s fantastic that we get to apply theories and concepts into real-world practices. I truly believe that MBS provides the best exposure to Asia Pacific & Oceania through subjects like this, and this is beneficial to gaining a deeper understanding of the market. Lastly, I really appreciate that it is quite close to home, compared to other western universities!

What are your top tips for other Filipino students considering an education at Melbourne Business School?

If you don't know anyone in Australia, and specifically in Melbourne, don’t worry as there is a strong Filipino student community here through the Melbourne University Filipino Students Association and Filipino-Australian Student Council of Victoria , both of which help you with the initial transition, as well as offer support throughout your time here. So don't fret, and don’t feel that not having relatives or friends here is a deal-breaker, because the Unimelb student community and MBS are very active and there are lots of social activities to make your stay enjoyable. If Filipinos are known to be friendly and hospitable, know that you can expect the same from Australians too. Melbourne is a beautiful place and Manila is only 8 hours away!

That’s great to hear! Finally, summer is nearly upon us! Do you have any plans?

Yes! My parents and sister are coming over so we'll drive to the Great Ocean Road, maybe hike up Grampians National Park, go for some wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, and also see the New Year's fireworks display at Sydney! I will also be taking up the Melbourne Business Practicum  during the summer term in late January 2018, so that will keep me occupied. I'll be assigned to a local company here in Melbourne along with four or five other students. Together we'll help the company crack one of the problems they're currently facing and hopefully they implement the plan we'll come up with. It's going to be an exciting sunny summer!

Want to learn more?

Find out more about MBS Enrichment Programs here.

We host a number of information session in Australia and around the world!

Register today.