The is the transcript for the audio Combined degree options

Hi, I am Jess Clayman and Welcome to Your Path to UTS.

Your Path to UTS

In this episode we are exploring combined degrees.

My name is Vakula and I study a combined degree of Educations (Primary) and the International Studies degree at UTS. I choose Spanish and spent a year in Mexico last year.

I am Mark and I am fourth year Bachelor of Communications majoring in Public Communication and Bachelor of Laws student and I am actually doing the Legal Futures and Technology Major.

My name is Joel Meredith and I am studying a double degree in Integrated Product Design with a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation which is super long winded but super fun!

Mark, Vakula, Joel thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you for having us!

Now our first question for you all would be why did you choose your specific combination?

So, I guess from a super young age I was always super fascinated by technology and I really wanted to get into the Product Design kind of field. But I was kind of concerned that going into Product Design as a standalone degree I wouldn’t be necessarily be equipped with the full range of skills that I saw teams kind of needing to get tech startups off the ground.

So I was going on to Kickstarter and I saw these teams of 6 across like marketing, business, product design and engineering and all these things and I said I can’t really get that with one degree and that is why I coupled it with the BCII because I thought you know having that kind of transdisciplinary background would help me collaborate with other people to help bring visions to life.

Oh, that sounds so cool. Vakoula, why did you choose your specific combination?

So I figured by the end of year 12 that I wanted to become a teacher and what other way to sort of delve into education in Australia, also why not learn another language. So, I have enjoyed learning languages, I picked up Indonesian during High School. I know a lot of Primary Schools are starting to teach languages other than English, so I thought OK Spanish, a language that has intrigued me for a long time, why not pick that up and combine that with education?

And Mark why did you choose your combinations?

So when I was choosing my degree I thought about my strengths and the interests that I have and I have always loved being around people and reading and writing so I thought about what degrees would encompass that and that is why I came to Communications and Law! And then Open Day really helped me as well, talking to the students about their experiences really helped me to decide what type of degree and what type of things I would be getting involved with and that is what led me to the degree I am (in).

Now Vakula could you tell us a little bit about what your experience was undertaking the Bachelor of International Studies, what does it involve and what is it like for you?

So, the Bachelor of International Studies at UTS is a degree that you add-on to a base degree, so I added this on to my Education degree. You can choose from 6 different languages to undertake so you can learn Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, French or Spanish and so I choose Spanish and during your second year or third year of studying you pick up one language subject a semester and so it is great so whether you already have a background in the language or you don’t you can pick up the language where your ability stands, so you have beginner levels, intermediate and then advanced and then in your fourth year of undertaking your degree you get to go onto a compulsory one year exchange to a destination where they speak the language that you have learnt over the last two years.

So, I choose Mexico and it was honestly the best decision that I ever took. Adding this degree on to education really just boosted what I could get out of studying at UTS. What can I say, I had opportunities to travel, meet new people from different ends of the world, different corners, and just really flourish and deepen my Spanish skills. It was honestly an experience that I to this day I cannot stop talking about how it is the best decision I have ever taken so far.

How incredible! A compulsory exchange overseas and you chose Mexico. Can you tell a little bit more about what it was like in Mexico and what some of things were that you experienced while you were studying over there?

When I arrived in Mexico, I really did think that I had a pretty deep and solid language base and then I arrived there, and I was like ‘wow! I do not understand anything’. But at least at the uni we had that basic foundational Spanish and UTS takes care of intensive language classes for 3-4 months depending on your destination, so I was able to develop my Spanish and I am proud to say by the end of it when I came back to Australia I was fluent in Spanish.

It was your year. That sounds like the best of fun!

Oh 100%. So, another thing that we had to do on our year abroad is that you were given a project to complete by the end of your year. So even though we had University in Mexico, I went to the University of Guadalajara. I had projects and assignments to do for UTS and the main project I had to do for UTS was a project based on the environment, the culture any topic that I wanted to do, something that intrigued me, and for me personally something that had caught my eye the moment I stepped into Mexico was police presence and perspectives on police, and I know it is a very, very, hefty topic but it was something that I researched throughout the whole year, conducted interviews, wrote methodologies, literature reviews and being able to see how the police and the people there interconnect or didn’t interconnect in different ways, it was really interesting to look at.

So, you are not only there immersing yourself into the local culture, into the country itself , a different environment that is obviously very different from Australia, you’re learning about something that you’re interested in or that you sort of pickup from the environment that you put yourself in.

And another great thing about that I found very, very useful about taking the Bachelor of International Studies Degree at UTS is that flight, VISA’s, insurance is all covered by UTS. So I didn’t have to pay a cent which is absolutely amazing, they booked flights for us, gave us a date and said this is the date you’re leaving Australia and you can choose the date you’re going to comeback.

So UTS really took care of us whether that was keeping us in contact with an academic who helped us, I know these projects and these assignments sound absolutely overwhelming but our academics I had Jeff Browitt, absolute legend in the books at UTS, Jeff really took care of us, I was able to email him and stay in contact with him, ask his opinion, he went through our work and he was just there for support because you know it is overwhelming enough that you’re in different country where you are learning the language and the University is very different to home university and so you know what UTS had our back the whole way, and I just felt comfortable, I didn’t feel like I was there by myself which I think is something that people worry about.

That must have been a huge weight off of your shoulders

Oh 100%. They were there to give us that support and it felt like we were all going through this together whether that was the other international studies in different destination countries.

Now Joel, I would love to know exactly what a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation is, would you mind telling us a little bit about what you’ve been studying?

Yeah, definitely! I suppose it is not the most specific, descriptive, articulate name. I guess you’ll hear a lot of opinions across the students about what the BCII is. In mine, I see it is as a transdisciplinary degree. So essentially at its core it is an opportunity for a ton of super cool kids from really different backgrounds to come and work on the same problems.

And what sort of problems have you been working on?

So, we work with a range of different industry partners that come in anywhere from Mastercard to Pandalabs and NSW transport so anywhere from start-ups to corporates. So for example I guess we were doing one project with NSW transport I think last year and they were kind of looking at redesigning the public transport system and like some of their bus stands and stuff looking for alternate ways to make it feel more efficient without adding more buses to the network and it was really interesting because you got all of the people from different backgrounds so we were in a team of six, I think there was like a business, engineer, two designers and a nurse and it is really interesting because engineers approach things a certain way and designer approach things a certain way and business people approach things in a certain way. So we were like coming up with like how we could make it more efficient, how we could design it better but then you have somebody like this nurse coming in and bringing in this superhuman perspective and being like ‘oh this is like really empathetic’ so being like ‘oh this is how we can talk to our users’ and I guess understanding how other people approach problems has been a really nice thing to bring into my career moving forward and I guess it’s just interesting to see the way that all the different backgrounds extrapolate ideas on problems and the kind of outputs that will come from that.

Absolutely, it sounds like a really hands-on course?

Yeah, there is no exams, everything is project-based and usually with industry as well. So you’re usually kind of getting a brief from industry, iterating on it with your group and with the partners and then presenting it back to them and then a lot of your marks will come from that presentation and your solutions as a whole.

You mentioned that transport for NSW project that you worked on, and that is one of your favourites? What’s the absolute best one you’ve done?

I think my favourite assignment was one of the more theoretical ones, they asked us to like redesign the economy.

Just a little project!

Yeah! It was like kind of hell for like two weeks because I guess the whole thing was about like invisible architects and how we get kind of get brought into this societal idea of what everything should be and how the system should operate and it took like ten days straight of our team just like nutting it out trying to be like ‘what is going on’ because there is so many you don’t realise because you don’t think about it right?

But then to come together and like pull it apart and be like ‘wow that’s actually like a huge fundamental flaw!’ And then try and develop solutions to you know like overlay different structures or set certain things up in different ways to design a system where you can kind of like maximise value and happiness for each individual. So I thought that was like fascinating to not only see I guess like how blind we were before actually thinking about some of these things, coming up with new solutions and then seeing how those solutions might actually impact people in the real world, and taking that forward you can apply that to anything!

Your breakfast routine, like what don’t you even realise that you’re doing? Like how you treat people, how you carry yourself in business, there’s a whole range of things that I think we never questions and having an opportunity in an assignment like that to start pulling things apart has been paramount in questioning everything around us since.

So, tell me, biggest thing you think you’ve learnt or maybe someone you’ve worked with that gave you a perspective that you really didn’t have before?

That’s a really good question! I think I might throw it back to a story. So, I think I said at the start of the podcast I said I always wanted to do tech start-ups and I used to look at Kickstarter campaign and it was a pretty stock standard format you would see.

There would be like six guys and girls across like CEO, design, engineer, business, marketing and communications or something like that, and I think that I was l always like ‘yeah, I am going to do everything! I am going to work really hard, figure it out, I’m going to do everything! And I am not going to need a team of 6!’ and I honestly I think the about 3 days into the BCII I was like ‘nah, when collaborate with people you can create these amazing solutions that you could never do by yourself.’

So I think my biggest learning out of the BCII today is that I think real innovation, real creativity and real deep scale solutions to possibly some of our largest problems today  come from the intersection of people and when you bring interesting people together on interesting problems the innovations comes out of those relationships and out of those intersections and I think because of that I am trying collaborate with as many people as I can now to try and find that innovation moving forward.

Yeah, diversify, build your skills, build the people around you! Love it!

Now Mark, Bachelor of Laws/ Bachelor of Communications that is a really interesting combination that you have got there?

Yeah, no, I love it, it is fun!

How do you believe doing a double degree has diversified your skills?

So I think doing both degrees has really helped me to develop and really strengthen my transferable skills, I have really learnt this last year when I had the opportunity to work in both the communication and legal sector and I find myself applying the skills that I have learnt from one degree, for example there was one task that I was doing that involved a lot of research, and my law degree really helped me do that research to a high capacity even though I was working in the communications sector.

That is fantastic! Do you think in the future you can see yourself combining the two?

Yeah! For sure.  I definitely do think that I can definitely combine the two.

So next semester, this coming semester, I am going into Entertainment Law which will is really good which means that I get the best of both worlds in doing Communications and Law.

How do you believe your double degree has prepared you for your career?

So with Education they have prepared me to become a teacher, but with my Bachelor of International Studies I feel like I have learnt skills and learnt really how to adapt to any situation you are put into because with teaching everyday is different, you can’t really expect what the kids are going to do, or what they’re going to say or what is going to be like.

You walk in and it is a brand-new day, a brand-new palette. So, I feel like doing international studies has really prepared me to deal with anything that comes my way. So, I think that is a skill in life that I will need so I am very grateful for that!

I think in Korea there is a lot of languages and they are nowhere of them are as impressive as being fluent in Spanish, but in the industry, there is like a lot of different ways that people speak. So, for example in start-ups and corporate you can talk design with the designers and you can talk firmware with the engineers and you can talk mechanical engineering with the mechanical engineers and you can talk finance with the CFO, being across all of these different things puts you in a really nice place to put people in the right positions to create wonderful things and I think the biggest advantage of my double degree, moving into start-ups and moving into corporate since has been like being able to talk to some of those key stakeholders and better understand where they are coming from, what excites them and how to put them in position to do some really wonderful, innovative things.

Mark, I guess we touched on this before but how do you think your double degree has prepared you for your career?

Yeah, I think that one of the biggest things I have gotten out of my double degree is opportunity. I think studying a double degree really opens doors for you and it has allowed me to make connections with my tutors that have really opened gateways for me to different careers and different pathways. So, I think that a big advantage of studying a double degree is that there is double the opportunities out there.

Absolutely, that’s a beautiful way to put it, double the opportunities. I think that the thing that has come across the most in talking to the three of you is that it gives you such an incredible well-rounded education and you’re becoming such well-rounded and employable at the end of your degrees.

The big question that I am sure a lot of people are wondering, a lot of people have on their minds is what would be your advice to potential students who are listening to the podcast and maybe thinking about undertaking a double degree themselves?

I would say take that leap of faith, having double the skills as Mark said is the best thing you can equip yourself with for the future and being able to have that in this moment is super useful and just prepares you for whatever you’re going to face in the end.

So, I would say take that leap of faith, do that double degree, why not have your hands full with two different skills, different pathways.

Something like a super wise guy once said to me he was just like ‘you have got to move to be lucky’ if you want a good job apply for a good job apply for 100, if you want to find great friends like meet 1000 and the same goes for our education.

I think Mark hit the nail on the head with ‘double the degree double the opportunities’ like if you place yourself in another degree and meet more people and do more subjects and work on more projects, get exposed to more networks, meet more industry partners, there is just more opportunity that is going to come from that and you’re really going to like level up your skill set as well and I see that as a good thing. So, I would definitely recommend exposing yourself to as many educational opportunities as possible.

Mark, any advice?

Yeah, I would say to study what you’re passionate about I think that what I have learnt from studying a double degree is that it doesn’t feel like I’m studying, I am just building on my passions so really find what you’re interested in and really build on that.

What are some of the challenges you have found doing your double degree and what are some of the ways you overcame them, or maybe some of the misconceptions that you had coming into a double degree that you found weren’t necessarily true.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that it is double the work, you have to be at uni double the amount of time in terms of face-to-face learning which is not necessarily true.

I doing a double degree was at uni for two days a week in my first semester and three days a week in my second semester. Do not be overwhelmed by the misconception that you have to be on campus all the time. There is definitely ways to manage a good timetable and to balance it out with work and your social life, don’t be afraid just go for it!

Well, Mark, Joel, Vakula thank you so much for your time, I really really enjoyed chatting to you all.
Thanks Jess!

That was Vakula Bhattar, Joel Meredith-Partridge and Mark Joseph Samuel.

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