It’s not every day you graduate medical school and join The Alfred as a junior doctor. Nor is it every day you’re chosen to represent Australia in the World Futsal Championships. But Monash Elite Student Performer Scheme student, Jess Au, has incredibly managed to achieve both.
We spoke to the star athlete/medical graduate to find out just how she was able to juggle her academic and sporting obligations to pursue not one, but both of her dreams.
We heard you will be interning at The Alfred next year as a junior doctor and representing Australia in futsal – how are you feeling about these exciting opportunities?
I’m super excited but also a little nervous at the same time for the year ahead! I’m looking forward to all the new friendships I’ll make and all the experiences I’ll have both in medicine and futsal. I think it’s going to be a steep learning curve from medical student to intern but the teams I’ve met at The Alfred have been amazing so far, so I’m sure they’ll help guide me through the year. As for futsal, it’s going to be so much fun to get back into the swing of training now that restrictions have been lifted and I can’t wait for the next tournament in New Zealand.
How do you plan to manage the obligations of both commitments next year?
I know it’s not going to be easy, but I think the key to managing both my internship and futsal will be time management and prioritising what’s important to me. I often have my weeks planned in advance; intern shifts and soccer commitments will be non-negotiables that can’t be moved around, and then the rest of my free time I like to prioritise seeing family and friends and using it to pursue other interests. It will be exhausting at times, but I enjoy medicine and futsal so much that it’s never felt like work or a chore to me. I think that when you love what you do and it brings you happiness, it’s much easier to devote your time towards it.
Has The Alfred been supportive in your Futsal endeavours? And alternatively, has your Futsal community been supportive in your medical endeavours?
The clinical team at The Alfred were super supportive during my final year of medical school and I guess it helped that the Director of Clinical Teaching was an Australian Curler, so she understood what it meant to juggle both sport and study. I’m sure the support will be no different when I transition into my internship. It’s always a big confidence boost when your workplace is willing to support your sporting endeavours.
As for the futsal community, they have been absolutely incredible. My coaches and teammates always knew that deep down medicine came first for me and they were so understanding and never made me feel bad if I couldn’t make it to training or games. They would try to move sessions to fit in with my schedule and were always there when I started doubting if I could continue to manage both. They’ve motivated me to be the best that I can be. I have so much love and respect for them all.
How have you balanced both of your passions during your time at Monash?
Team Monash have been so pivotal to my success in both medicine and futsal. I first became involved with team after being introduced to Martin Doulton, Carolyn Gordon, Elana Pose and many others who have been apart of this journey with me. They taught me the ins and outs of structuring my timetable, the importance of time management, offered me scholarships and introduced me to sporting mentors and fellow athletes. But most of all, they instilled confidence in me to pursue my aspirations. Knowing that I had a team of remarkable people by my side, wanting me to succeed every step of the way just gave me that extra bit of push I needed to keep working hard. I’ve made so many memories with the wonderful staff at Team Monash that I will cherish forever and will definitely miss everyone who made my experience at Monash University over the last seven years unforgettable.
Do you have a message/advice to anyone trying to excel in two fields?
Work hard, surround yourself with people who believe in you and most importantly, look after yourself. If you’re happy and healthy, and love what you do then success will definitely follow.
It has been a pleasure working with you Jess, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.