LINC Sydney | Student Blogs
Onward - Jenn

It’s so surreal that we’ve been on American soil for a week already. Sure, my discretionary funds are all but drained, and my camera’s memory card is full of gorgeous rainforest and waterfront vistas and meticulously arranged group photos, but the friendships forged in our ten days together, vivacious and amplified by our group’s immersion into Australian culture, make me wish we were still “down under”.

It wasn’t until we’d departed the baggage claim at LAX that I was able to fathom how much I’d learned in our days spent blocks away from the Circular Quay, especially in how to relate and communicate with people of different cultures. That’s all business is, right? Making connections—whether with colleagues, superiors, and employees in and tangent to one’s workplace, between product and customer, or with entire markets at a time. The wisdom I’ve gained through the wisdom of experienced employers, my peers, and the interactions I’ve witnessed abroad has inspired me to continue collecting exposure to different corporate and national cultures in order to become a “citizen of the world”, a beacon of success celebrated by Australians.

This trip and its corresponding course have been the highlight of my Marshall experience thus far, and I have our outstanding faculty members, especially Professor Plotts, Cherie, our charismatic tour guide, our various bus drivers, Marshall Undergraduate Programs, and my fellow “[fake] Aussies to the Ivy” to thank. Lonely slow-claps to that.

Compare and Contrast

I’ve been home in Texas for a whopping three days and I haven’t stopped thinking of Sydney. I find myself comparing all of the things that are going on in front of me to the way things were just a week ago. My family keeps telling me I’m homesick, which is weird because I just got home. In an odd way they are right though.

It’s hard to move past such amazing experiences. The thing to look forward to is that the LINC trip was only the beginning. My week abroad with the Marshall faculty can now serve as a foundation for future plans. I can bring all the knowledge and experience I gained back into the classroom, and, in time, perhaps return to the city that I fell in love with.

USC makes it so easy to study or intern abroad, and I fully intend to make use of those options. However, I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to go and experience a place with forty odd members of my class. For that experience I will forever be thankful to USC and the members of the Marshall faculty who made this experience possible.

Fight On Down Under!

-Chris

Jet Lagged

It’s about midnight right now, and I have no intention of sleeping soon…and I don’t think I would be able to either because I’m so
so so jetlagged.

With the memories of our amazing trip to Australia swimming in my head, it’s hard to believe that I’m back in SoCal. Not that SoCal is a bad place to be at all, but I still have to miss Australia. It would be a dream to work in Sydney someday – who doesn’t want to work in a city that is right on the coast? I am truly grateful that USC Marshall created the LINC program for its first year students. This experience is unparalleled in terms of company visits, professional growth, and international experience. Additionally, the bonds our group formed in this short week in Sydney are irreplaceable. Going to another country as a group really brought everyone together and we had a great time. At the end of it all, we were able to make fun of each other and laugh about it – about that one kid who was always late to meetings and the other one who couldn’t stop talking, and those fratstars who just couldn’t contain themselves.

Our trip ended with a nighttime cruise on the Sydney Harbor. We were there in the months when Vivid Sydney takes place and the Opera House and Sydney Bridge are lit up with a rainbow of colored lights. It was beautiful.

A huge thank you to Julia Plotts, Christina Garcia, and Robertas Gabrys for arranging and accompanying us on our trip. We loved it, and you three made it possible.

Thanks,
Livia

Our furry friends (that one on the bottom is a Wombat)
-Livia

Down Under and Back Up Again - Livia Pierson

It’s the morning before we head back to Los Angeles, and everyone is a little bummed about it – but also exhausted from the week. Maybe we will all be able to sleep on the plane this time.

Here is a quick recap of what happened recently:

One of my favorite company visits was our trip to Westfield Malls. Right near our hotel in Sydney, Westfield had a giant mall with seven levels. In case you were unfamiliar with Westfield, it is a commercial development and management company that specializes in retail malls. They develop top-of-the-line malls and focus on demographics with above average incomes. Our visit was basically a mall tour where leasing executives explained how they go about strategically positioning particular tenants in the mall to create unique environments on every level of the Westfield Mall.

Like I mentioned before, we got to go to a rugby game. It was a very fun experience, and it was great seeing that the Aussies were just as crazy about their rugby as Trojans are crazy about their football. We had really good seats, practically in the front row. Rugby is fun to watch but also pretty brutal because the players don’t have any helmets or body padding. They get beat up pretty bad. Unfortunately, our team (the Bulldogs) lost. Maybe next time team…

Before the game, we all went to Bondi Beach. It’s a famous surfing spot, and a good place to spend the afternoon. We stopped at the beach and had a swim between two corporate visits: Apple and KPMG. For those of us who went swimming, we had to sprint to the hotel and change from our bathing suits back into our business clothes before the KPMG visit. My feet were definitely still covered in sand for that visit. The KPMG visit was cool because we got to hear from 5 or 6 panelists, all KPMG employees, who left their native country to work in Australia. They explained what the transition was like for them and basically how much they loved working in Australia.

We are heading out to the airport in about 20 minutes. City of Angels here we come!

Peace, Love, Fight On
-Livia

Homesick for Sydney

Travel is an integral part of Australian culture. It’s built into their business structures as employees are allowed extra time off to go out and experience the world. I empathize with that sentiment. My time in Sydney has opened my eyes up to so many new things that I had never had the opportunity to experience before. The company visits gave me insight and industry experience that I can apply to my classes when I return to USC. The people I met are now part of a lifelong network of friends and colleagues that I can rely on as I move forward in my life and in my career. The cultural activities showed me how subtle differences between groups can allow you to get out of your comfort zone and experience something truly different and unique.

Honestly, I don’t want to leave. A week isn’t enough time to see everything in a city as massive as Sydney is. This whole week has been such an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to have it. If you come on a LINC trip in the future (which I can not suggest enough) you’re going to become so very close to your classmates and your professors. I figured that saying goodbye to them would be the hardest thing of the trip, but saying goodbye to Sydney has proven to be the more difficult of the two. So I prefer to consider it a brief respite. One that I fully intend to return from in the very near future. To my classmates and to this beautiful city I bid farewell and safe travels. Until we meet again!

-Chris

Party Animals - Jenn

The last couple of days have been a blast, as we transitioned from business formal attire towards business casual at our corporate tours. On Thursday, we all had hands-on encounters with the critters at Featherdale, including snakes, koalas, kangaroos, and even tasmanian devils (which look cuddlier than Taz from Looney Toons would lead you to think). At one point the amount of kangaroos bouncing around outnumbered the Trojans in the petting area, which was such a surreal and picturesque moment.

Afterwards, we took a relatively long drive to the Blue Mountains, whose exotic fauna and gorgeous views were so worth the wait. We rode a train down a roller coaster-like track to catch this spectacle before riding gondolas back up and across the rainforest canopy. I was lucky enough to be standing on the glass floor, which allowed me to truly feel as though I was flying. Through the day’s lively bus rides and exploring the renowned Australian natural playground, our recreational day served as a strengthener to our relationships as a LINC Sydney “team” as well as to our connections with this beautiful country.

Today was our last full day in Sydney, and you will not guess where I found myself. By dumb luck I caught David, Terence, and Jesus as they were getting ready to leave for the Australian Turf Club at Royal Randwick (by Bondi beach) to watch horses race. We spontaneously put on business casual, a familiar practice by now, and were, as they say, off to the races. ;)

I had a blast going outside my comfort zone. We wandered around with fish and chips, pretending we could interpret the equestrian stats and frivolously placing $5 bets accordingly. The style was incredible; it seriously could have been New York Fashion Week. I left the races feeling more cultured, broker than ever, and strangely yearning for a set of fascinators. Today has been a testament to how being a little reckless can yield big results— whether in timeless memories or heaps of cash, if you’re Jesus.

First Few Days

Our trip has been absolutely amazing so far. It’s now Friday, our 6th day in Sydney. I’ll give a quick recap of our first days of the trip here.

The first day we arrived at 6am and had the entire day free, and our time here in Sydney was blessed with spectacular weather; it’s been about 70 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time. Just an FYI, if you plan on going to Australia, the easiest conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit is to double the temperature and add 30. The entire LINC crew hopped on the ferries on the wharf at The Rocks (just a short walk from our hotel) and took over Manly Beach for the afternoon. We had a fun time – I would definitely recommend bringing a bathing suit because the majority of the students didn’t and the water was clear and 70 degrees. The water is really never that warm in Southern California.

Beach time accomplished, it was time to get down to business the next day. Our second day in Sydney was spent at Macquarie, a financial services and banking company. One thing about this firm that particularly stood out to me was the corporate culture. Unlike other similar firms, Macquarie does not use the “top down” form of management with its analyst teams. Analysts are encouraged to search for opportunities on their own, a distinguishing feature of Macquarie that differentiates it from other financial services firms that typically give analysts specific tasks. The upside potential of this is higher employee job satisfaction because the analysts feel like they play a unique and vital role in the company. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the analysts and she agreed that this was one of the reasons she chose to work for Macquarie. For someone like me who previously had not been too interested in the financial services industry, I have some thinking to do.

The following day we went to DP World, a port developer and operator. This visit was especially interesting to me because I have lived near the Port of Los Angeles my entire life and finally learned something about how ports are operated here in Sydney. Our hosts took us for a drive around the port grounds and we saw the cranes being operated up close. I thought it was pretty funny how DP World’s competitors were operating their section of the port just across the channel.

Tonight we’re all going to a rugby game, I’ll tell you about it soon.

-Livia

Pics of Sydney!

Australian Perfection

Australia get’s things correct. The city of Sydney is a beautiful place and the people are all so friendly and inviting it feels even better than home sometimes. The key feature of the trip thus far have been the business visits. Each and every visit has opened my eyes to a new sector of business and given me a real practical understanding of how things are created and implemented in the real world. I am so blessed to be able to make use of USC’s world class education and to have the ability to view some of the concepts that are taught in the classroom come to life in front of me.

The week started off with a visit to Macquarie Group. Right off the bat all of my expectations were shattered. The experience was so different from everything that I had experienced in the financial industry before. Not only were we in one of the leading investment banks in the region; the head of Macquarie Capital (the investment portion of Macquarie’s business) took the opportunity to personally speak to the students. I’m a first year business student, and the faculty at USC were giving me the opportunity to speak directly to the head of one of the top investment banks in the world?!? I’m still in awe. Furthermore, the bank has it’s own in house art collection (which we were given a private tour of!), each person was so readily available to speak to each of us, and they took a sincere interest in educating each of us about the industry in a way that was accessible and interesting.

We had the opportunity to talk with analysts who had recently graduated university, which provided an opportunity to answer any questions and give a real personal take on the day’s activities. They were more than happy to talk about their experience and give advice regarding our futures. The thing that drew me in the most though was the banks emphasis on “opportunity through accountability.” They explained that, unlike other financial institutions that have a formal top-down structure, Macquarie emphasizes it’s bottom up organization. Each analyst works within a team of peers, across industry and client groups. Each individual works directly with the client and the partner that handles the case operates as a mentor to the team and works in cooperation to meet the client’s needs.

(Me meeting Tim Bishop, the head of Macquarie Capital!)

You have to remember that these are people being paid to make critical decisions day in and day out, and that they took the time out of their days to talk to us about the process. I will be forever thankful, both to USC and to each of the companies’ representatives, for the experience.

-Chris