Learning and teaching

Economics Student Society Australia (ESSA) - Ten years of fun and careers for students

Elise Rodrigo

The Economics Student Society of Australia (ESSA) started ten years ago at the University of Melbourne and spans across three branches: Monash Clayton, Monash Caulfield and the University of Melbourne.

It is the largest economics society in Australia and aims to connect students with their peers, foster useful soft skills outside of academia and connect students with academics and professionals from industry.

Elise Rodrigo is a fourth-year student of a double degree of Commerce and Arts. She has been a committee member at ESSA Clayton for a year.

“I got involved in clubs as a social and professional development opportunity. Commerce is such a broad degree, and it can be hard to know where you’re going in life.

“As part of a society, it’s easier to make friends. You find people who enjoy what you do in a more niche environment. You also work with career guidance and developing your soft skills such as leadership and communication. Clubs really take you that extra step further,” she says.

ESSA typically organises a mix of social and career building events such as Orientation Week at the start of the year and social events to engage with the member base.

ESSA career panel

An ESSA career panel.

As part of the education component there are career panels with sponsors and industry sponsors. Every year the society runs a “women in economics” networking night.

“One event we work together across all three branches is a trivia night. And we specifically collaborate with Monash Caulfield on our careers guide. For example, we interviewed alumni to see where they ended up.

“People branched out a lot and went into so many different sectors it was very interesting,” she says.

As an officer on the Publications team of the ESSA committee, Elise Rodrigo works closely with other students who write economics related articles for the club, all of which are published on the website.

She believes it’s a good place for students to start if they’re interested in economics but don’t really know what it is. The articles are readable and engaging for anyone interested in current world issues. ESSA aims to make economics and financial literacy accessible to anyone from any discipline, not just economics.

“I studied accounting in high school and went into a commerce degree, but I had no idea what economics was. I find a lot of people are confused by economics and don’t know how to define it, but my advice is to give it a go.

“You learn a lot of good practical knowledge and it helps you understand the world and the news better,” says Elise.

Next year, when she graduates, she is going into management consulting, something she “fell into” by talking to people at the club while exploring career directions.

She interned in management consulting earlier this year and realised it was a great application of her economics background. The team-building skills from working in clubs helped her adapt to the workplace environment.

“Being part of a committee allowed me to develop my leadership and communication skills. It helped me find my strengths and choose a graduate position that aligned with my interests,” she says.

“We have a great culture in the club and they’re all a friendly bunch. We welcome new members who also want to meet new people. I would say give the committee a go, it’s a great social and career development opportunity,” she says.

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