An interdisciplinary education gives students a breadth and depth of scope that makes them adaptable, and ready for whatever the working world throws at them. As students prepare themselves for careers that haven’t been created yet, adaptability and soft skills like communication and networking might be the unsung heroes of higher education.
For born and bred Melburnian, Kristen Goulopoulos, studying at the University of Melbourne was always a consideration. Once she set foot on campus, the deal was sealed.
“When I finally came and walked around the campus, it sold it for me. I really liked the vibe of the place. From there, life just got better. I’m a massive coffee fiend, so the café culture was appealing, you don’t get that anywhere else. While I was studying you could pretty much always find me on campus or in a café.”
Kristen enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts, a choice grounded in her love of literature and history. It gave her the chance to study subjects like “Gothic Literature” and “Witches and Witch Hunting in Europe”, as well as an opportunity to hone her writing skills and instilling in her an understanding of Australia’s cultural identity. Upon graduation from her Arts degree Kristen decided to continue her studies, this time in the world of business.
“I had a friend who was studying marketing, and whenever we spoke about what she was doing I found it absolutely fascinating. In some ways it impressed me as being similar to studying the humanities, or psychology, there’s that element of analysis and communication.”
So, Kristen enrolled in the Master of Management (Marketing), a course that drew on her humanities background, and gave her the technical skills she needed for a career in marketing. From the get go, her interdisciplinary background proved to be both unique and valuable.
The Master of Management (Marketing) provides foundation training in a variety of business and management disciplines, with specialist training in marketing. This course is about the means by which organisations attract and retain customers, including aspects of marketing, strategy, customer behaviour, branding, and international marketing.
“I did the Business Practicum, as part of a team working at the South West Alliance of Rural Health (SWARH). Our project was looking at decreasing the turn-around time on IT enquiries. Within our group, we had a mix of international and domestic students, all with different skillsets, I found myself settling into a niche where I was helping with research, and communication, and writing. At the same time, it gave me a chance to learn about data analysis, and the numbers side of things.”
Since graduating in 2014, Kristen has established herself as a talented and creative marketer, beginning with an internship at L’Oréal, and following roles at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Playgro, and most recently De Bortoli Wines, a role that has seen her working largely in the digital and social media space. It’s a diversity of experience that has emphasised the importance of her time in university.
“It’s a steep learning curve when you enter the working world. It made me realise how important all the technical skills I gained in uni were, but also all the soft skills. Things like communication, writing, critical thinking and being able adapt are all so important. Once you’ve had that experience and honed those skills, it makes it possible to learn on the fly, and take on new roles as they arise. I think that’s really important, shooting for roles that will challenge you; maybe you can do 70% of what the role requires, but you can take on and learn that other 30%. That helps you grow as well. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been interested in what all the companies I’ve worked for offer, and that they’ve given me those opportunities.”