Choosing between Business Practicums

Jeremy Smith completed a Bachelor of Science and is expected to complete the Master of Management (Finance) this year. He was the Melbourne Business Practicum (MBP) Prize Winner for July 2017 and completed the Global Business Practicum (GBP) to London in November 2017. FBE awards prizes to the best overall performing student in the application and interview process.

Jeremy Smith

Arriving home from my European travels capped off the most challenging but rewarding year of my time at The University of Melbourne.  Forgoing post-exam breaks to complete both the MBP in July, and the GBP in November, I felt a tad exhausted. Nevertheless, the experiences and connections made from each program have been invaluable.

Reasons for the MBP and experience

I hadn't expected to undertake both programs. When choosing between business Practicum subjects earlier in the year, I choose the MBP over the GBP. I viewed the outcomes of each subject comparatively but was drawn to the MBP as i would have the opportunity to expand my local network, without the additional planning and costs associated with travel.

My experience with the MBP was overwhelmingly positive. As a team of four we were tasked with testing the feasability of an online investment advice service that our client, heuristic investment Systems, sought to develope. This led us to complete desktop market research, compile a prototype of the software, and even interbiew the chief Chief Investment Officer of a superannuation fund.  I was challenged to apply my academic learnings whilst taking a pragmatic view on the task, driving us to constantly think of how our work could aid the client’s business.  It was immensely satisfying to receive genuine praise and interest in our ideas following our final presentation, and to hear of our host company’s plan to move forward with the work from our findings.

Reasons for the GBP and experience

I reconsidered applying for the GBP in London for a few reasons.  Firstly, I had realised that no two projects would be the same, and that the skills I had taken out of the MBP would only develop through experience.  Secondly, the opportunity to work in a cultural and financial hub such as London would expose me to different work cultures, as well as working at a company with an international presence.  Lastly, I could take a well-earned European holiday at the completion of the subject.

The lead up to London required more planning and expenses.  When selecting flights, I decided to arrive on the Saturday before starting at the company on Monday.  In hindsight, there wasn’t much time to get over the jetlag that 24 hours of travel induces – so I would recommend arriving about four days earlier to adjust.  Whilst students selected their flights, accommodation in Greenwich had been organised. It was about a half hour train ride from where the central London host companies were located.

Left to right: Catherine Green (ISG Group Marketing & Communications Director), Jeremy Smith, Adrian Hii, Michelle Di Stefano, Echo Hu, and Chris McDermott (Project Host & ISG Group Client Development Director

London moved at a faster pace than Melbourne, both inside and outside the office.  The client was an international construction company, ISG. My team were required to research potential growth industries in which they could win work in in the next 5-10 years.  Following this, we developed strategies that could best position them for this.  We held meetings with a variety of people across the business to garner understanding of their capabilities, completed research using in-house materials and university databases, and drew on a variety of academic learnings from our respective degrees.

In comparison to the MBP, we were required to take an international perspective, whilst also quickly developing an understanding of the local market.  Similarly, to the MBP, our hard work was rewarded with a successful conclusion to our time, with our presentation to senior staff being well received.  Our fresh perspective and blue-sky thinking allowed us to elicit future opportunities for ISG, of which multiple are being progressed with by the business

Outcomes

Having completed both the MBP and GBP has left me feeling confident about the immediate value that I can bring to future employers, as well as a better idea about what I want to do with my career.  I would strongly recommend students looking to develop their employability to undertake either program.