Nina-Louise Dean is the Vice President of the MBS Students’ Association. We spoke with her to find out how she’s adapting her studies to the emergence of COVID-19.
Nina-Louise first came to Melbourne five years ago, when an internship opportunity at Telstra presented itself during her undergraduate studies. In those two months she fell in love with the city and decided she wanted to come back for her studies in the Master of Management (Human Resources). Now, Nina-Louise is in her second year of the program, and with the emergence of COVID-19, she’s had to adapt to a new way of studying. As an international student, her first big decision was the choice to stay in Australia and finish her degree.
“There are a lot of factors that have contributed to my wanting to stay here. I understand there are people who want to go home, but for me, it was about looking at the bigger picture. I feel like my life is here now, and I can be productive here. At least this way, I can stay in the same time zone as my friends and teachers, I can do the work online and study at home. If I went back to Germany, I’m not sure what else I would be doing.”
In terms of studying from home, Nina-Louise, like all of us, has had to create a home office set up.
“I’m lucky, in that my housemate and I get on really well and we can respect each other’s hobbies and space. Right now, she’s doing yoga in our living room/yoga studio while I do work at the kitchen table. Later, she might hang out on the couch while I play piano, so it works well because we complement each other. What has been challenging for me is that I’m definitely someone who needs a change of scenery every once in a while, it’s just that now my change of scenery might mean moving from the kitchen to the couch. Previously, I was someone who would usually go and try to do my work in the library, so I’ve had to adapt in that regard, and learn to be productive at home. It’s a challenge, but I do think there are advantages to being pushed outside your comfort zone, that’s definitely how you grow.”
Nina-Louise has also zeroed in on some of the surprising benefits many of us have experienced as we practice social distancing.
“I think it’s a really strange and unique situation we’re in, because it’s not just you that’s going through this horrible, annoying situation, it’s everyone. I think because of that, there’s a mentality that we’re all in it together. I’ve actually found that I’ve reconnected with some friends on the other side of the world, and it eases my mind a little bit knowing we’re doing similar things,” she says. “I’ve also found that this is a really good time to reflect on my routines. It’s been a challenge, especially in those first few weeks, but then you can kind of look at that and say ‘okay, this is hard today, what can I do to make it easier?’ Or ‘right, I can’t do this now, what can I do instead?’ All of this has given me the chance to reflect on both uni and my personal life, and I feel like I’ve been able to learn a lot about myself.”
The change of working style also lends itself to some thought around what COVID-19 might mean for the Human Resources field.
“I think the working from home situation is really interesting, in that it offers both challenges and opportunities for creating and sharing company culture. That’s definitely something we’ve had to think about with MBSSA. There are lots of ways you could approach that, like drinks or team bonding activities over Zoom, butthere would be challenges as well, for example, how will companies handle the onboarding process when they have new people start? What do the economic challenges mean for the recruitment process? It’s possible to overcome these challenges, but I think we’ll have to see the whole company and a variety of business functions work together to make it happen.”
As Vice President of the MBS Students Association (MBSSA), Nina-Louise has also been heavily involved with the changes to their program for the year, looking at what they can offer their community in the way of online alternatives.
“We’ve shifted a lot of our events into the virtual space. We have our peer mentoring program, which we’re now looking at adapting to take place over Zoom, with bonding sessions. We just had our first online yoga session, so we’ll continue to have well-being, yoga and meditation sessions on Monday’s, and we’re starting digital cooking and baking classes on Friday’s, which will be from a variety of cuisines. We’re also adapting our professional events, at present we have virtual events scheduled with Sharp & Carter and OFA. I think it will be important for us to maintain the events calendar in some form, as everyone needs that community and sense of connection now more than ever.”
“When all of this is over, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the unimelb community in person. Attending lectures and tutorials in person has a different feel to it, and of course, meeting people through class has always been a great way to make new friends!”
The Master of Management (Human Resources) provides specialist training in human resource management, while also covering a broad spectrum of management activities, including people management, motivating and rewarding employees, dealing with stakeholders, data analysis and HR policy development.