Jeanette Chan is a third-year Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a 2016 graduate of the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at Presbyterian Ladies' College in Melbourne. She is the 2019 President of the Melbourne Microfinance Initiative, Australia's first and largest student-led microfinance organization. They are a student club affiliated with the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne that provides pro-bono consulting services to underserved microfinance institutions both at home and abroad while raising awareness of the different career pathways students can take to create an impact in their own personal and professional lives.
Why did you choose the IB Diploma Programme (DP)?
It’s probably going to be a very different reason from everyone else. I chose it because of its reputation for being a challenging course and for the ability to study more subjects at a greater difficulty. I thoroughly enjoy challenging myself, because it’s fun and makes me a more resilient individual. I wasn’t even considering studying overseas like many of my peers, who chose it for its international recognition instead.
What was most influential about the DP?
One of the reasons I admire the DP so much is the weight it gives to CAS (creativity, activity, service)—it places importance on doing good in our community and making an impact. While I've always been impact-driven, it has the power to influence each and every person that undertakes the IB to make a difference. As an individual that enjoyed being an active member of their school community, I appreciated it being a solid reason to justify my, at times, excessive involvement in extracurricular activities both in and out of school.
“The beauty of the IB diploma is that you develop a bond of shared experience with those that complete it, and that bond transcends the boundaries of the school.”
And since I loved my IB experience so much, I’ll give you a second reason. I absolutely loved the sense of community it gave me. Our IB cohort was relatively small (just over 50) when compared to the roughly 150 students that studied the local Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The beauty of the IB diploma is that you develop a bond of shared experience with those that complete it and that bond transcends the boundaries of the school. I’ve developed instant connections with people I’ve met at university that studied the IB from the other side of the world, but we’ve been able to have a good laugh about our experiences, especially grappling with our TOK (theory of knowledge) essay.
What advice do you have for current IB students heading to university next year?
My single piece of advice is to follow your heart and not the status quo. I’ve found that in especially strong university communities like at the University of Melbourne, it’s really easy to pigeonhole yourself into a few, finite roles you could pursue. In my case, it is widely known that the most obvious career pathways include pursuing accounting, investment banking, marketing and the like. And if that’s what you’re after, props to you. But for me, finding a community of like-minded individuals that wanted to make a difference through their careers has been instrumental in exposing myself to the multitude of impact careers available, and individuals to guide me through my own career journey.