Ligia is living in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and working full time for MCI Solutions as a Marketing Manager. She did her masters at Western Sydney University, graduating with an MBA in April 2018.
Western Sydney University MBA: add to basket
I studied Communication – Advertising and Marketing in Brazil and came to Australia for a year to study English, which I did for four months before doing a diploma in business. After that, if I wanted to remain in Australia, I had to do a postgraduate course in order to qualify for a visa, but I wanted to do a Masters anyway because it was the next level for me after my degree in Brazil. I decided to go with an MBA, because it was the best option available in the market and I felt it could open a lot of new opportunities for me in terms of working in Australia. I came here just to study English, have the experience and go back home. But then I decided to stay a bit longer because Australia offered the best opportunities for me at that time. So that’s why I decided to stay and that’s why I chose to do my MBA.
I chose Western Sydney University for four main reasons. I went through all the units, did all the research but then I went to the campus of Western Sydney and could immediately see myself studying there. It was like falling in love. I know that sounds romantic, but that’s what happened: it felt right. I think it was the biggest factor, because I’m very into feelings – believe they are important when making choices.
I went to the campus of Western Sydney and could immediately see myself studying there. It was like falling in love. It felt right.
But there were also practical reasons. For example, I’d say it was the most cost-effective within Sydney’s biggest unis: UTS, Sydney University, the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney. Among these, in terms of price, it was the best option. The third factor, and also one of the biggest reasons, was that they offered scholarships for international students, apart from the public scholarships. It was like any university thing: I could just apply and try to be the lucky one, which I was!
Another important factor in choosing Western Sydney was my contact with Isis Kowaliauskas. She has become a colleague, but at the time it was through seeing her Facebook post in one of the Brazilian communities that I met her. She is a Brazilian, who works in the international department at the uni. After looking at her Facebook post about Western Sydney, I wanted to go there and see what she has to say. That was when everything started and after that we became colleagues. In the beginning, it was just the hook because I didn’t know anybody else. She was so sweet and helpful: she introduced me to the whole university and the whole course and everything. And then I said, yes, that’s where I want to do my masters.
The MBA internships: tipping the balance in favour of WSU
There was another very important factor in my choice: the internships that the university offered. You could choose between internships which ran for the last six months of the two-year course, giving you the opportunity to actually work for a real company. I saw this as a good opportunity for me and it was something that was different from the other unis, for sure. It became one of the biggest factors for my decision.
At that time, early on before going to university, I wasn’t working in my field. I didn’t have a business-related job: I was working as a waitress.
When Isis told me about the internship and that I would have the opportunity to work for a big multinational here in Sydney (and she mentioned a lot of names), that really opened my eyes. It gave me a sense of security because you were going to be channeled into something that almost guaranteed that you would be able to move on after finishing the course instead of finishing and finding yourself on your own. For an international student, that was especially important. This was available to everyone who had shown that they were a good student.
Two things stand out for me. The first was getting a job in marketing. As I mentioned before, when I started, I was working as a waitress: working the whole day and then going to uni the next day. It was very exhausting so I started looking for jobs in marketing and I got my first job when I was in the second quarter of uni. This was also challenging because there was an overlap of the jobs: I was waitressing in a Brazilian restaurant at the weekend and working in marketing for three days a week and going to uni for the other two. I had to manage all the aspects of my life. I was studying full time because as an international student I didn’t have another choice: I had to attend full-time classes. And then I had to manage my personal life as well. Everything together was very challenging, but it was a very good challenge for me – it was a good experience.
Everything together was very challenging, but it was a very good challenge for me – it was a good experience.
The other great memory that I have is when they launched the new building, the new campus. That was very impressive because for the postgraduate students there were just three floors of one building at the beginning my first year – a small location (which I was quite happy with) but then they launched the new building, which was a huge campus. I don’t even remember – maybe ten floors, for business only. Everything high tech, the latest technology available. I was thinking: wow, I’m really into something big here. It was very impressive, like something from another world; it was a great moment and happened at the beginning of 2017.
Overcoming academic challenges
I’ve had some challenges in school with mathematical subjects such as finance or economics. I always had some areas that were very hard for me in the beginning when I did my bachelor back in Brazil. But at Western Sydney it was a bit different because although it was challenging and I had to study a lot, I liked it very much. I don’t know why but maybe it was the way they teach and because it’s for you to use in your workplace – they assume you are working, and you are studying at a high enough level that you can apply what you’ve learned in class to your job.
I think that when I learned the basics of economics and some other maths-based subjects at college, I didn’t know how I was going to use that – a bit like in school when you learn something that you have no idea how are you going to apply, such as physics or chemistry. But at uni, doing my MBA, I knew what they were talking about – my boss just told me to do the same thing last week: it was practical and gave me the feeling that I could use my studies in my professional life – it was going to be helpful. And that’s why I think I liked it even though at times it wasn’t easy; I had to study a lot more, but it was really helpful for my life in general.”
My MBA was practical and gave me the feeling that I could use my studies in my professional life – it was going to be helpful.
My specialisation was marketing because it is my field and all the marketing subjects: I just loved them. There were very, very good professors. I had amazing experiences with many of them.
John Edwards was my first professor and I had a few units with him throughout the course. I have such good memories about his classes; they were always casual and fun! One of those classes that are ‘light’ and that you really look forward to attend, even on a Friday night. They gave me a good background of the Australian corporate environment and some practical marketing case studies.
John Edwards was my first professor and his classes were always casual and fun!.
Lawrence Potter was another memorable professor at uni. I also had a few units with him that I still remember like it was yesterday. One good example was the unit “Integrated Business Experience” taught by him, in which we had a competition among the groups to develop a new café for the Bulldogs brand (a professional rugby league football club in Sydney) in one specific suburb of Sydney. One person from the Bulldogs’ marketing team actually came to class to watch our presentation and select the best one. It was an unforgettable moment at uni.
A supportive learning environment: round-the-clock
A lot of the professors that I had the opportunity to talk to were very understanding because they were used to my situation as an international student. But then again, I always met the requirements, all the deadlines. I’m not one of those students that just gets there and says, hey, I forgot to do this, I didn’t have time to do that! I’m a very organised person when it comes to my obligations. But they were supportive of the course if I had to redo something. For one of my units, I think I got just a pass. It wasn’t a good grade, so I went to the professor and I said, I want to change this, I need to increase my GPA because of my scholarship and I just wanted to do better. And then he gave me an opportunity to submit my assessment again, to redo my assessment on that occasion, which was great. He explained to me what went wrong, what I could have done to improve it. I remember that situation because that was the worst grade that I’d got – before that I had always done well at all my uni studies – and he gave me a lot of support at that time and I was able to improve the grade as a result.
For one of my units I think I got just a pass. I went to the professor and I said, I want to change this, I need to increase my GPA. He gave me an opportunity to submit my assessment again, to redo my assessment on that occasion, which was great.
I know that it’s not like that all the time for everyone. You’re not going to give the opportunity for everyone to redo their assessments, but I know that he took into account how hard I was working, that I was making the effort. And I had to: I had to maintain at least a credit to keep my scholarship going!
My top 3 for Western Sydney Uni
1. The campus: that was important because when I had to study, to do my assessments, I just had to go there because I didn’t have the space at home to study. There were always thousands of computers and spaces to study, so for me the campus would be my first one.
2. The subjects: I really liked the choices of subjects. Of course, not all of them but some subjects were really good. The finance one, about understanding financial reports for the decision-making process was the most challenging and the most beautiful subject.
3. The scholarship: without that I wouldn’t have the chance to do it because the Brazilian exchange rate makes it a very expensive course. But although I had to spend all my savings on the course, it was worth it. Spending my savings on education was a very wise decision.
My top 3 for Sydney and Australia as a study destination
1. Sydney: is just a perfect city. I love it here because you have both the big city but at the same time you have some nature as well. I am from a big city, from San Paulo, Brazil, which has crazy traffic, huge buildings, a huge population, so I love the cosmopolitan feeling, but in Sydney you also have the beaches and beautiful parks everywhere. So it’s busy and quiet in the same place, which I love. Insert photo of Sydney (both sides).
2. Public transport: it’s very easy to move around. For example, I always lived close to the city and the campus was in Parramatta which is in the west, and was at least one hour, sometimes an hour and a half, away from my place and I had to go at least three times a week. If it hadn’t been for public transport I couldn’t have done this, especially as some of my classes were at night. I finished sometimes at 10pm and didn’t get home till 11pm.
3. The possibility of working while studying: it’s one of the reasons that I came to Australia. I was a waitress in a Brazilian restaurant which was CRAZY! It was a bit of a reality shock because one day in I was living in Brazil, working for the big multinational pharmaceutical company, doing very well in a very good position with a car and a perfect life and then the next day I was carrying seven plates on my hands and my arms and having to smile the whole day and deal with people being rude to me and so on. It was a shock, yet it was one of the best times of my life; it made me grow up as a person, learn a lot of new things. I first thought it was ok but I’m not going to learn anything from being a waitress – it’s just some basic skills – but no, it’s the human factor, when you experience life. I learned a lot from it and it was a great experience.
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