A One-Man Special Projects Department
A few weeks ago marked the halfway point for our trip, and it became all too real that this adventure won’t last forever. As we approach the end of our second month in Sydney, my appreciation for this city continues to strengthen. This is the first time I’ve lived in a city and it has served as the perfect juxtaposition to bucolic Lexington. It’s here that I have learned more about independence, self-sufficiency, and the power of true freedom than anywhere else.
First, life in Sydney is as relaxed as it is beautiful. A short bus ride from the coast seems to keep everyone in a pretty good mood, believe it or not. For the first month and a half, I think I averaged 3-4 days a week on the sand somewhere (usually at Tamarama). When not on the beach, I’ve enjoyed running around the city to the different tourist attractions, exploring different parks and neighborhoods along the way. I’ve come to learn the hard way that I am not the most gifted person when it comes to finding my way around, getting lost more than a handful of times. Sydney’s extensive public transport has proved an invaluable asset in these situations.
The experience at the University of Sydney has been a blast. Several of us enrolled in the perennial fan-favorite, Sports and Learning in Australian Culture, which takes you to a half-dozen games from Australian Football League to Rugby Union and Soccer. Australians are very serious about their sports, and the field trips and lectures have been a great way to feel integrated into the culture quickly. The lectures for all of my classes are massive and dwarf those at W&L; it offers a very different perspective of the education process.
The most valuable and rewarding part of this experience has undoubtedly been my internship. I work at the Sydney office for LINK, the world’s largest international business brokerage firm. While I am officially listed as their Finance Intern, my work has been mostly helping their new Head of Operations improve their internal operational reporting. My first day on the job, he sat me down and gave me an orientation of everything he felt I needed to know for my project: the background of the industry, the history of the firm, its goals and initiatives, and the challenges he was hired to help tackle. He wanted to make sure that I knew how my projects were united with his, and how his were aligned with the company. This instantly made me feel like a part of the team, and that what I would be doing would be of material value. Afterward, I met the General Manager and the Director, and I could tell that management was as excited for the months ahead as I was.
For the past two months, I have been working on a single project: creating an Excel-based dashboard that automates and aggregates internal reporting data for the managers to use. They have had to manually track employee performance, spending much of their time adding up revenues and calculating KPIs. The firm is poised to grow but their reporting methods were not scalable. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed tackling a complex problem on my own. There hasn’t been any handholding or coffee runs – I get to my desk and to work as if I am a one-man Special Projects department.
My education at W&L has proved invaluable in my assignment at LINK. While it is obvious that INTR helped sharpen my Excel skills, what has contributed most to my success thus far is knowing how businesses function. Because I have complete control of my work, I can think creatively about what I would want to know if I was a manager and incorporate it into my deliverables. In my presentations to management, I reference concepts and lessons taken straight from the classrooms in Huntley.
This time I’ve spent in Sydney has given me a new perspective on what I want after graduation next year. It’s so important to broaden your horizons and experience something radically different from what you are used to. The transition from Lexington to Sydney has been a complete 180 and has been the best decision I have made in my college career.