Why did you decide to study in the Netherlands?
I wanted to broaden my international experience and study in a global environment, so I knew I wanted to do my undergraduate degree abroad. I did look at British universities but the Dutch universities were much more affordable and the course I chose especially had a lot of elements that I really liked. Of course Rotterdam itself as a city was also a factor, it’s a very fun place to be a young student.
What things about the course in Rotterdam were you most attracted by?
It is a very tough and fast paced course, but it is also without specialisation in the beginning and you can choose to keep your programme broad ranged or go into a specialisation later on. It was relatively easy to get on to the course with good Maths and English which I had and the fact that there were a lot of workshops and practical elements and great facilities was also attractive – we were not only looking at theory all the time.
How was the course structured?
The basics structure was 10 weeks working on a project which also included workshops and lectures and then two weeks of exams in the end which you would have to read up on a lot for. Our lecturers ranged from researchers to professional consultants and there were a lot of times when they would really escape from the book and focus on real time insights, which is always interesting. One of the really excellent things was that things were so well organised and transparent. Even if you were travelling a lot or doing part time jobs, you still had the chance to catch up, because everything, all the information from different parts of the course, was available online in case you missed something. That’s something really quite different compared to Russia which is very lecture oriented.
What were your fellow classmates like?
We had only about 20% Dutch students and the rest were from all over the world – from 83 different countries in total. About 5-7% of students were from ex-soviet countries. It was a very international and multi-cultural environment, which was exactly why I had chosen to study there. The general atmosphere was inspiring and very motivating – lots of students from across the world who were all full of ambition and clearly very driven people with a lot of ideas.
And how did you find life in the Netherlands in general?
You feel much more connected to Europe when you are in Holland – you can travel so easily to many other countries in just a few hours. I also found the everyday costs for a student more affordable than in the UK – rent for example was much cheaper. I still go back to visit Dutch and foreign friends from time to time – I would say around 50% of our class stayed in the Netherlands, or at least for a while, after they graduated.
What were your career expectations when you graduated?
I was expecting it to be relatively easy to find a job when I returned to Russia, but unfortunately I came back just as the economic crisis had hit so it was tough. I was looking for opportunities in St. Petersburg but there weren’t many there so I took a job in Moscow – there’s still more going on here in terms of business and it’s much more dynamic. It was a bit frustrating at first applying for jobs when I returned, the recruitment system works a bit differently here than in the Netherlands.
What advice would you have to students graduating from the Netherlands and searching for jobs in Russia?
You have to be prepared for the fact that people don’t always reply - you may start to feel like you are just throwing your CV into a black hole when you send them to HR departments and get nothing back. My big advice would be to really start networking, before you return to Russia if you can. Try to find contacts in company headquarters in the Netherlands and Western Europe. Often you will find out through them that someone in Russia is looking for an employee with your specific skills and experience. They can then help put you in contact directly with those managers in Russia who are trying to find someone like you.
What advantages do you think your education in the Netherlands has given you?
There are a number of different things:
- My language skills are of course a great selling point and very useful.
- Inter-cultural skills. Studying in an international environment really makes you skilled at making those adaptations and I notice it a lot in my job.
- International contacts.
- Computer software skills. My course required me to become very adept at a variety of different computer technologies.
- The depth of analysis that we did on the course has given me a great advantage.
Would you consider doing further studies?
I would still like to start my own business one day and I do have a business plan. If I did study more the next step would be to get into something more specific, but right now I don’t need that. Maybe one day I would consider an MBA.