‘Highly recommend’: Second sheCommerce camp inspires Year 9 students to consider careers in business

The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics welcomed 50 Year 9 high school students on campus for the three-day sheCommerce camp.

Established in 2022, the sheCommerce program is designed to inspire and encourage the next generation of young people who identify as women (cisgender or transgender) or non-binary to explore commerce as a career path.

The students are all passionate about leadership and pursuing a career where they can impact change with the opportunity to remain in the program from Year 9 right through to Year 12.

This year, the program attracted nearly 300 applications, an excellent response for the program which is now in its second year, and an increase from 235 applications in 2022.

The cohort travelled from across Victoria to partake in the three-day camp in July, seeing for themselves what their future lives could be like on the Parkville campus.

“I decided to apply for the sheCommerce program the moment I saw it - the program did not disappoint,” said Year 9 student Jennifer Sun.

“I got to experience university life, learn about studying commerce-related subjects, and meet girls from all over the state. I would highly recommend the program to students like me who want to try something new and get a break from secondary school life.”

Alongside opportunities to meet like-minded peers, they met current students in the Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne to hear about their experiences and aspirations.

“Being a part of the program as a mentor is probably one of my most fulfilling, fun-filled, and memorable experiences as a uni student. [It] gives students a taste of commerce and university life that I wish I had at their age!” said current University of Melbourne student Tolulope Akinbiyi.

Workshops, lectures, and seminars were delivered by world-class academics at the Faculty of Business and Economics, as well as business leaders from industry.

“What I loved the most was the main project that we did, it was a really well-designed task that involved marketing, teamwork, and creativity,” said Year 9 student Varuna Malhotra.

Associate Professor Michael Carrington
Associate Professor Michal Carrington

Over the course of the camp, students heard from senior academics such as Associate Professor Michal Carrington and Professor Daniel Samson and attended various workshops, including a keynote presentation delivered by Telstra.

“Our academic staff regularly publish research on the many benefits of diversity in the workplace and the barriers faced in traditionally male-dominated environments like boardrooms,” said Associate Professor Michal Carrington.

“When more women and non-binary people have a seat at the table, everyone wins, and the sheCommerce program allows us to provide support and development opportunities from those pivotal pre-tertiary years to get them there.”

“My favourite part of the camp was learning from world-class academics who brought an array of knowledge and wisdom to their specific areas,” said Year 9 student Tiana Ciavarella.

“It was valuable to learn about careers in business, especially as girls and non-binary students who are passionate about creating change. I made so many new friends and the experience was one to remember - I can't wait for sheCommerce next year!"

Students were provided meals and accommodation at University House, which completed the immersive experience of life on campus.

“One of my highlights was the campus tour, we got to visit the buildings and facilities that the University of Melbourne students use which was really exciting - I had a wonderful time,” said Malhotra.

Alongside fostering a safe and inclusive safe, the faculty also offers the program free of charge including all accommodation, making the experience more accessible to all participants.

The participants all grew in confidence over the course of the Year 9 camp and ended the experience as strong UniMelb ambassadors with a growing or confirmed interest in commerce and many new friends.

“The sheCommerce camp was such a great experience filled with much joy and fun. I not only gained a lot of knowledge about the commerce pathways but also made long-lasting friendships and memories I will forever cherish and look back on. If I could, I would go back to experience it all again,” said participant Isabella Nyugen.

“The programme has already proved useful for the first cohort—the feedback has been terrific—so we’re very pleased to have been able to offer the program and the camp to more participants this year,” said Professor Paul Jensen, Acting Dean of FBE.

“I look forward to seeing how the sheCommerce program develops in the future and where these students will go in their careers.”