Dare to dream big

By AnnMaree Murray

From public school in Melbourne’s west to one of the ‘Big Three’ world’s most prestigious consulting firms. This determined Bachelor of Commerce student is taking the road-less-travelled, and encourages others to do the same.

On paper, Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student Joyce Guo's list of achievements is impressive. Look below the surface and it is evident that her successes are well-deserved and the result of her determination to be the best she can be. Guo sets her own lofty goals, brings the right attitude and isn't
afraid of hard work.

Now in the final year of her BCom studies, we invited Guo to reflect on her journey so far. In the hour we spent together her energy and enthusiasm were infectious. Her fondness for university life is obvious (Guo attends the campus every day, even when she doesn’t have classes) and although it will
be hard to leave, she is excited by what lies ahead.

What have been some of your highlights studying the Bachelor of Commerce?

My international experiences have been amazing. In my first year I was selected for the International Case Competition in Belgrade and met teams from all over the world. Later I spent a semester on exchange at the University of Southern California in the USA which I felt was life-changing.  I also fell in love with London when studying abroad at the
London School of Economics. I took advantage of the opportunity to do some solo travelling on these trips, which I found personally rewarding. I have definitely got the travel bug now.

I received the Citibank Women in Investment Banking Scholarship and completing an internship at Citibank was a transformative experience. The long hours tested my physical and mental capabilities and whilst I enjoyed the challenge I discovered that Investment Banking is not the career path for me.

It is easier to do well when you are passionate about what you are doing. Joyce Guo

One of my proudest achievements came in second-year when I was invited to address a group of first-year students about my BCom journey. Sometime later, I met two international students who thanked me. They told me they had arrived in Melbourne with a purely academic focus and, after hearing me talk about my experiences, were inspired to get involved and explore the enrichment opportunities on offer through the Bachelor of Commerce. As a result, they made new friendships and had experiences they were not expecting at university. That was very satisfying.

You were awarded the Commerce Opportunity Bursary, what impact has that had on your experience?

I am very grateful for the scholarship I received, which has granted me access to many wonderful opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

The financial assistance has enabled me to travel and study at different universities around the world. In 2016 I visited five different countries which is more than my whole family combined.

I have been mentored by Margaret Abernethy and as part of the Abernethy Scholars Programs I am invited to exclusive events where you can meet like-minded and talented people.

I first met two of my close friends when, as high school students, we attended VCE summer school at the university. Coincidentally, we all received the same scholarship and sharing the journey with them has been brilliant.

Joyce Guo in Melbourne

Congratulations! You have secured a study scholarship and a graduate position with Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Thank you, I am really excited. BCG is a top consulting firm and a great fit for me as I enjoy the creativity and formation of strategy that consulting involves.

I am still deciding whether I will commence the graduate program or continue my studies next year. I would like to complete Honours in Economics and I am also looking at graduate study options overseas. I am very passionate about my heritage and would love to study in Asia to reconnect with the culture.

Before all of that, I have set personal goals to enjoy my final semester and nurture my close friendships, since after uni we will go our own way. My friends and I are working our way through a list of top 101 reads and training for a marathon!

If you went back to your old high school what advice would you offer about going to university?

I would encourage others to dream big and to not put limits on what you can achieve. If you work hard anything is possible. Studying at university is a journey of personal and professional development. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

I am proud of who I am and where I am from. My disadvantages have turned out to be my privileges. Joyce Guo

In first-year I was aware that others may have come from more privileged backgrounds, with access to better resources and existing networks. At university, everyone has an equal right to the opportunities available. Respect is earned through hard work rather than a sense of entitlement. I can appreciate every single opportunity because I know I have worked hard for it.

I found getting involved in various clubs and societies, such as the FMAA and Enactus, was a good way to meet people and make new friends - because university should be enjoyable too!