An inspiring story of a Global Business graduate
In the interview we marked with an asterix (*) the points that have significantly changed since the launch of the double degree programme.
- Irina, congratulations on your second Master’s degree!
- Thank you very much!
- Please tell us how did you end up back in Austria after the international year at HSE Nizhny Novgorod?
- When I was a student of the Russian part of the Global Business programme, I really enjoyed studying in Austria. During the second year of the master's programme at HSE I again went to Linz for an exchange semester and it was then that I knew for sure that I would definitely go back there and finalise my studies at JKU. Frankly speaking, studying and living abroad is quite costly, so for another year after graduating from Global Business at HSE in Russia in 2015 I worked at a German automobile corporation. From September 2016 to this day, my permanent place of residence is the Austrian industrial city of Linz.
- What was your study and development of the master's thesis in Austria like?
- In 2016 I arrived in Austria in the status of a regular JKU student. Student residence permit allows you to work up to 20 hours a week. Due to the fact that the financial issue was quite acute and I began to learn German just two years before (during the Russian part of the program), it was not easy for me to find a highly qualified part-time job. However, after a while I got a job at the cinema buffet. It was real downshifting, but I do not regret it, I gained tremendous experience working with foreign clients and colleagues, I developed good command of spoken German, the skill of working in stressful conditions. Also I know how to cook popcorn, who would have thought! [laughs]
There is a difference between going abroad to study for a certain period along with your classmates, and going with a one-way ticket, without having acquaintances and especially “the right acquaintances”. I would advise ambitious participants of the double degree program to stay in Austria for the whole period. Yes, it is expensive, but if you want you can find work, opportunities, and, moreover, this is an invaluable challenge that will become one of the best memories in life.
Irina with former President of Austria Heinz Fischer
- What is the main difference between master’s in Austria and Russia?
- The Austrian master studies are different in every way. Here you are your own master. You take as many courses per semester as you see fit. You make your own schedule. You find yourself a supervisor, with whom you want to write your master's thesis, you yourself are looking for a topic, formulate it, think what sources to use, and what to do in the practical part.* And this is about responsibility, discipline and independence. It might be a drawback that there is no deadline: students go at their own pace as they dive deeper into the topic. Therefore, you can take a semester to write it or 10 years - there is no time limit on this.* Lectures cover only a part of the material that you need to know for the exam (mandatory for everyone), you need to read a lot of additional academic literature. And there are no pre-formed study groups - therefore, you are constantly expanding your network of acquaintances. In Russia the opposite is true: the programme and the schedule are formed for you, most of the course slides are detailed, the study is time bound. But in all, of course, there are downsides and advantages to both the systems.
University pond at JKU
- In general, how challenging was it to make your way to this cherished goal of an Austrian degree?
- To say «challenging» is to say nothing. I will not hide, moving to another country is stressful. You start from scratch in a new place. And this path is not for everyone. But at the same time you achieve everything yourself! And this is the main satisfaction.
- What life hacks can you give to our current and future double degree students?
- Get a student residence permit, find any job on arrival, in parallel to studying and writing a master’s thesis in Austria. This is an invaluable experience, both in the social and professional senses.
Learn the language. Not only will you develop your brain, you will be able to communicate with local people and delve into cultural peculiarities.
Travel. Visit nearby countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia. Go to museums, theaters, go on excursions. Former concentration camp Mauthausen, located 30 km from Linz, will leave a lasting impression. It’s one thing to hear about events in history, it’s quite another to see it with your own eyes and experience it yourself.
Gain experience. Absorb, like a sponge, everything that surrounds you, from information at lectures to communication at parties with exchange students from different countries. Dare and not be disheartened. If something does not work, you always have the opportunity to better prepare and pass the course, find an interesting internship, reinvent yourself.
- We know that you have already found a full-time job in Austria. Could you tell us about it?
- Yes, today is exactly one year since I got a job at a metallurgical company for a full day. I work as a project manager for maintenance and repair of continuous casting plants. This means that an international company concludes contracts in various parts of the world with steel plants that need to be serviced. And I am engaged in the commercial part of this work. I found the work myself by sending a resume on the Internet. Here, of course, the element of luck is important, to be at the right time at the right place, with the right qualifications. Nevertheless, I was looking for a good job for a long time, it takes time, patience and luck. I received my Master of Science diploma in January 2019, which means that I was able to find this job still during my studies. This is to say that studying abroad should become a part of your life, but not the initial purpose of your moving to another country as it requires big effort and investments. My diploma is also recognised in Germany and replaces any international certificate of English if I want to study any further.
- And what about the money part?
If you are interested in the salary then it is higher than the one I received in Russia at the last place of work, roughly times seven. Of course, the living costs here are also much higher, nevertheless, I have already earned enough to buy a studio apartment in Nizhny Novgorod. On my own. At 26 years. Talking about investments that were required for my studies, surely i invested a lot of my own money while I was still a student at HSE in Russia. However, all costs paid off not only financially, but also in life experiences.
Irina at the annual University ball at JKU
- Irina, thank you for this interview!
You are welcome, I hope that your students and applicants will find this information useful and interesting. I sincerely described all the challenges of this demanding journey which is at the same time full of accomplishments! I wish all the double degree students success! Everything will work out fine!
* Students of the double degree program (DDP) are assigned to one of the supervisors at JKU. The topic is initiated, as a rule, by the supervisor, but the student can suggest a topic of interest. Working on the thesis is divided into several stages with the recommended schedule to follow. At the end of each stage the students hand in certain parts of the paper to their supervisor and receive their feedback.