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1. Did your attendance at NYSF at the beginning of year 12 have an impact on your university choice? For example, did the NYSF show you that there was more than one university to choose from when it came to selecting which courses you chose to study?

The NYSF Next Step program at UNSW provided an amazing opportunity to get an insight into a University that was interstate. This opportunity in conjunction with the Beyond Year 12 presentations held on session motivated me to be more ambitious and apply for a variety of courses at different universities. This turned out to be one of my best decisions as the program and opportunities offered by UNSW and demonstrated at the Next Step program were second to none for my chosen field of study.

2. What were some of the challenges of being Chief of Staff on session?

The position of P1 on session was an absolute privilege. Working with such a talented and passionate team was definitely a highlight. Among the challenges faced on session, some of the most prominent were keeping up with the evolution of the program over the years and being detached from the students’ experience on a day-to-day basis.

One of the key contributing factors of the program is it embraces change with each session and consequently each year. Although this makes way for bigger and better things, it provides somewhat of a logistical challenge when organising an already busy program.

On the other hand, the limited time to interact and find out more about the brightest youth in the country is more a personal challenge that comes with the role. There is nothing like the discussions of everyone's day and opinions that happen around meal times. Unfortunately, there is only so much time available on session to hear all the stories and this is less when facilitating the next big thing in the program.

3. What advice would you offer year 12 students when it comes to selecting a Bachelor Degree and University?

I recall the biggest lesson learnt on session when I was a student being that you didn't need to know what you wanted to be when you graduated just what you wanted to learn while at University.

Eventually, we all have to graduate but a lot of degrees - especially science and engineering; medicine not so much - have common first year courses. This means that you can make the decision after trying 12 months of university, which is quite different from school. Since these degrees have the same core courses, this will have a minimum financial and time impact on your chosen career or academic path. Obviously, each university and degree is different but the key is to do your research and always be confident that there is more than one way to achieve your goal.

Q&A with Steven Falconieri, Chief of Staff, Session A January 2015 - content image

Steve Falconieri with Kirsten Garwood from IBM

4. On your recent IBM internship, how did the opportunity of your internship come about? What projects did you have the opportunity to work on and what did you learn from this experience?

IBM offers annual internships in its array of business units each year. I learnt of these opportunities at a university careers expo and decided to find out more as I approached the end of my penultimate year of study, as this is when most opportunities are offered to undergraduates.

IBM's internship programs are quite unique to other businesses as they offer six or 12 month terms as opposed to three to 12 weeks. This extended period of time working with IBM's Websphere Web Content Management as a Software Developer Intern allowed me to work in both a Level 3 Support and Feature Test team. Both of these roles revealed the business motivations, requirements and practicalities that are masked by a university environment.

Consequently, I gained an exposure to the real world of software development and an industry I can't wait to be a part of. This opportunity first and foremost cemented my personal goals and career path whilst motivating me to complete my final year of university with a new vigour and industry perspective in mind.

5. Last words?

As members of the NYSF community it is our responsibility to make the most of the opportunities that we have experienced. Consequently, I implore all alumni of the program to maintain the networks that were founded at the NYSF as they have the ability to contribute to the society of which we are all a part.