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Although Unimelb’s Bachelor of Commerce may not seem as broad as other degrees such as Science or Arts, the perception of commerce students as exclusively ‘finance bro’s’ on a one-dimensional path into Investment Banking, Consulting or Advisory could not be further from the truth. In today’s “Navigating Bcom” article, we will cover the course itself as a whole from students’ perspectives, including tips and tricks to get the most out of your time at Unimelb beyond the packed desks and three deathly silent stories of the Giblin Eunson Library.

The Majors:

As most of you already know, there are six main disciplines that one can major in within the Bcom, Accounting, Actuarial Studies, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management. Although they all set students on a unique career path, they are often very interlinked and most students choose a combination of two to enhance their knowledge base and skillset upon entering the workforce. Some popular combinations (and their associated personality type) include;

Economics/Finance (the finance bro major): The most common within the Bcom, Economics/Finance students usually fall into two categories. The first being finance-heads whose lifelong ambition is a Summer Analyst Position at an Investment Bank, and the second being indecisive first-years who took it because “that’s what everybody does”. Either way, essential items include a North Face Vest, a pair of RM Williams, a Big4 internship and a crippling caffeine addiction (thank you Cafe Commercio) and first-years can commonly be found making hay on the Lucky Thursday’s dancefloor.

Accounting/Finance (Mr Cash Flow): Like econ/finance, Accounting/Finance majors are often aspiring finance-heads, but chose accounting over economics for one of two reasons. Firstly, the two compulsory Economics subjects (Introductory Micro/Macroeconomics) were the bane of their existence in first year, or secondly, they did Accounting in VCE and thus have a head start. Essential items are very similar, if not identical to Econ/Finance, and both can be found at the Garden State Hotel at 5pm on a Friday Night.

Management/Marketing (Loreal): The antithesis of the previously-described ‘finance bros’, I nicknamed this ‘the loreal major’ because literally every M/M I know is currently interning in either Loreal Skincare’s Marketing or HR department. Quite a diverse major that is not easily classified, but M/M majors are definitely more unique than their finance counterparts. Often found enjoying a quiet Yo-Chi on a friday night.

Actuarial Studies (Einstein): Another unique major, regrettably, their surface-level perception as math geeks with genius-level IQs but little to no social life is more often than not true. However, this is not entirely their own fault, as the sheer amount and difficulty of the mathematics in this major leaves little room for student pub nights, and strikes fear into the hearts of even the smartest finance majors. Saying that you are an Actuarial major commands respect, but good luck finding another one outside of classes and the GE library’s quiet study sections.

Despite this, every Commerce student at Unimelb graduates with the same degree, so what one chooses to do post-graduation is not strictly limited to their major. It is also compulsory to take 1-2 subjects from each discipline (minus actuarial) in your first year, and you are not required to commit to a major (or two) until second year so there is plenty of time to decide which disciplines are best suited to your interests and aspirations.

Compulsory Subjects

Without being said, the transition from High-School to University can be extremely daunting at times for even the most extroverted and confident people. The lecture/tutorial teaching structure at University is drastically different and the fact that nobody is checking to see if you have completed that assignment or are up to date with your lectures takes some getting used to. However, the one thing that you will get extremely good at is introducing yourself, as the amount of people you know is exponentially outweighed by the people you don’t.

First year of the Bcom is slightly different in the sense that most of your classes are planned out for you. In fact, six of a possible eight level-1 subjects are compulsory to complete at some point during your degree (but most complete in first year), these are.

All Disciplines: Sustainable Commerce

Economics: Introductory Microeconomics & Introductory Macroeconomics

Finance: Principles of Finance

Accounting: Accounting Reports and Analysis

Statistics: Quantitative Methods 1

There is also a level-2 management subject called Organizational Behavior which is compulsory to take, but it is recommended that you take this in Second Year depending on your circumstances.

Study Loads

Although the Bcom is a 3-year course, most students extend their degrees by either a semester or an entire year to allow for extracurricular/professional development activities. Conventionally, the course requires you to complete twenty-four subjects over six semesters, meaning that four subjects are taken per semester, but most students choose to underload (take less than 4 subjects) to allow time for part-time work, internships and to be on FBE club/society committees to enhance their resume.

The perks of extending your degree to 3.5 or 4 years is that as the Bcom is a 3-year course, you will technically have two summers and two winter breaks in which you can gain relevant work experience through firms’ internship programs. Most of these programs (some are called vacationer programs) are open only to penultimate (second-last year) students and by doing this, you will technically have two ‘penultimate’ years of your degree in which to apply. This is also handy if you are unsuccessful in securing an internship or your dream internship in your second year, as you can intern somewhere else and then apply again the next summer with more relevant experience/skills

A decreased study load also means a lighter time commitment in terms of contact hours and general study, which means more free time. In this free time, students may increase their part time work hours, or even join a club committee to further enhance their resume. However, it is not recommended that you underload in first year, as it will affect your chances at securing an internship over your second-year summer (all your friends will)

However, in some circumstances, underloading is not an option. For example, if you’re an international or interstate student who is paying for accommodation, then staying in Melbourne for an extra semester or year may have significant financial strain. Accommodation in Melbourne (especially uni accom) does not come cheap and thus, it may be in some people’s interests to finish their degree as early as possible.

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