Lindy pursues a broader perspective

From spending a semester abroad at Tongji University, to reaching the finalist stage of a design competition, Lindy Huang has made the most of opportunities in her final year of undergraduate studies.

We caught up with Lindy, who recently graduated, to hear about her studies, her advice for students considering exchange, and what the future holds.

Lindy Huang pictured outside Melbourne School of Design

What did you study?
This is my last of three years of undergraduate study, with a major in Property. This degree has been very well-rounded; I’ve come out with a lot of options as to where I can go. Although property was always my first option, I’ve developed a really keen interest in design. I originally thought designing environments could be a bit tricky for me – I thought I had a lot to catch up on, without a high school background in subjects like visual communication design – but I’ve learned I can do anything, if I put my mind to it. Now I know it’s more about your thinking and your idea formation than the technical aspects.

You recently took part in a design competition, how was that experience?
I entered the Urban Innovation Ideas competition, with a partner from Germany I met while on exchange. We overcame the distance challenges – all our work was through video calls and messaging – and had a global mindset when approaching the brief. Being an urban innovation competition, it pushed us to come up with innovative ideas. We were selected as one of three finalists, and then developed our idea further in the second stage, competing against teams of people already working in the industry.

How did the exchange at Tongji University come about?
I was always interested in going on exchange. At the end of second year I felt I really wanted to do something different. I did some research and spoke to Stop 1 about my subject loading and how to organise it. I managed to get my core subjects done, to make room for doing electives overseas.

I considered Tongji University and Shanghai because they’ve really built a reputation in the built environments. I’d been to China before, but I was curious about what it would be like to live there.

I took mostly urban planning subjects, because my Professor recommended taking electives in other disciplines. It was really eye-opening to study in another country, and experience all the subtleties of being in a different culture and a different political, economic and social system – especially with the population density in Shanghai.

There was a separate program for international students and the classes were taught in English. Some of the subjects were offered to local students as well, which was nice. I met a lot of people from all around the world. The friendships I made have been so good; it’s nice to think that if I travel to Europe, I’ll have friends I can meet up with one day. If they want to come to Australia, I’ll be their tour guide.

Do you have any advice for students considering exchange?
I’d say definitely go ahead. If you’re even considering it, that’s the first step, so just try your best to go ahead with it. I’d like to go on exchange again while doing my Masters. I’d also advise on doing thorough research and really understanding what the university stands for and subjects you might be doing.

The Asia Pacific I’d recommend, because there’s an Australian government grant and scholarship program, which is really generous. I got a grant through the New Colombo Plan, which really helped me.

Then, embrace every opportunity you get overseas. Embrace every experience you have – it’s not always going to be positive every moment. I’ve come back being able to tackle uncertainty a bit better and not being afraid of taking risks. I think those soft skills are really important for when you go into the workforce, and for life in general. I’m sure I’ll look back at this year, and think it’s such a highlight of my life so far.

Are there any unexpected skills you’ve picked up through your degree? 
Presentation skills, definitely. At the beginning it seemed a bit daunting to present in front of my professors and peers. I knew I had to work on that as a life skill, and I feel like I’ve come through at the end of the degree feeling pretty confident.

What are you planning to do next?
I’ve just started working full time, in a 12-month internship with Plus Architecture. It came about when an associate spotted I’d been part of the Urban Innovation competition and approached me. It’s not my formal background, but I see myself developing a foundation for later on.

Is there a dream project or career path you’d like to pursue?
I definitely want to work on international projects. After exchange, I feel like I’ve been able to bring back a new perspective and an entrepreneurial mindset to contribute to work and team discussions. Coming from such a built up metropolis really broadened my perspective.

I’m thinking about a Masters in either Property or Urban Planning in the future, but I wanted to secure full-time work in the industry first.

I also eventually want to set up my own firm. I think the work experience will help me gain more understanding of design. I’m really passionate about the importance of design in big development projects. If I get into property development, I want to have a strong design understanding and use that in my decision making.

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