The transition from high school to university can be a nervy one, but along with the change comes a plethora of opportunities for students.  Aaron Mathew is currently studying Commerce & Law at UNSW Business School, he's a member of the Business Society (BSOC) and University Network for Investing and Trading (UNIT), attended networking sessions with CitiBank and Commonwealth Bank, and went on exchange to China – all this in his first year.  Aaron took some time out to tell us about himself and the prospects available to undergraduates at UNSW Business School.  

Q/ Tell us a bit about where you grew up?

I grew up in suburban Sydney attending Holsworthy Public School. I then made a massive transition to Sydney Boys High School in Year 7, a 45-minute journey from home each day – it wasn't easy.

Q/ When did you know you wanted to pursue a business-related degree?

I knew I wanted to pursue a business-related degree when I was considering what subjects to carry through into the HSC. I found that Economics and Legal Studies were more interesting, and as a result, subjects I performed better in!

Q/ Why did you choose UNSW Sydney and the Business School over other universities?

I knew that both UNSW and the Business School specifically had a global reputation and were highly ranked, so they were always on my radar. It has a great atmosphere and helps its students with a collaborative environment – all these things combined to create the best first year experience possible. What ultimately made me decide on UNSW was talking with friends in years above and hearing about their experiences! It sounded exactly like somewhere I saw myself fitting in.

Q/ When did you realise this was the university for you?

At first, it was a bit hard to adjust, sitting in tutorials with no familiar faces. I joined UNIT's subcommittee, and right after meeting up with my new portfolio we all went to grab dinner. I found myself already close with them all, surrounded by likeminded individuals who were all great fun to be around. I realised that UNSW fostered this positive environment and that I fit right in.

Q/ UNSW Business School offers students opportunities to undertake international practicums and overseas courses, was this something you undertook and what was your experience like?

I was lucky enough to go on short term exchange to Shanghai Jiao Tong University last year with nine other first year UNSW Business School Students. I'd heard from other friends at other universities - almost none of them offer any programs to go on exchange in the first year. Classes consisted of a mixture of business, culture and language, and the lecturers had an amazing combination of experiences to share. The site visits at companies such as Volkswagen was definitely the highlight.

Q/ Would you recommend it to others?

100%. It was an amazing experience, that I would not hesitate in recommending to others.

Q/ Why did you decide to do a double degree?

I liked the flexibility that it offered. I was interested in both Commerce and Law and saw it as an opportunity to study both at the same time. If I found myself attracted to one field rather than the other, I could drop one and graduate with minimal delays. The flexible courses really allow you to get a taste of what each major is about – and what it would be like to get a degree in those sorts of fields. It's really valuable for me to do these flexible courses, especially within your first year because going into your second year you can pick what you really want to focus on.

Q/ What are your thoughts on the industry and government links that are accessible at UNSW Sydney?

That relationship was really evident when we went to Shanghai in the first year of the immersion program, which was run by UNSW Sydney. It was really valuable to see the close connections that UNSW had formed with other institutions and to hear from program coordinators - how they loved having UNSW students over and to have this great positive reputation that proceeded you. Through the career accelerator, I was able to experience networking sessions, at companies such as Commonwealth Bank, and hear about their experiences in different parts of the company.

Q/ What has student life been like so far?

Student life has been great! There is always something going on at UNSW, whether that be an ARC organised event or one by the plethora of societies that exist on campus. There is something for everyone, and while I was a bit nervous at the start, I have no regrets that I got heavily involved in all aspects of student life.

Q/ What are the plans after graduation and where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

To be totally honest, I don't know where I want to be after graduation, let alone in the next 10 years. What I do know, is that I want to experience as much as possible within both Commerce and Law, to get a better feel for what I would like to do in the future. With the multitude of different opportunities that UNSW offers, I feel comfort in knowing that while I don't have an extremely particular goal for the future, that the 4 years left in my degree will allow me to go down whatever path I wish.

Q/ What are your three super tips for prospective students?

  1. Get involved! It's a very different atmosphere to high school, and while it may be slightly intimidating at first, it really is what makes your education unique.
  2. Don't hesitate to ask for advice. There are so many people on campus who are willing to help and share their experiences.
  3. Plan your time. It's so important to stay on top of your coursework, plan around part-time work and extracurricular activities.

At UNSW Business School we believe anything is possible. We believe whilst asking 'Why' may lead to knowledge, asking 'Why Not' leads you to think outside the box and seize opportunities. This ethos is at the heart of UNSW Business School and reflects our pioneering attitude, determination of spirit and entrepreneurial flair.