Opinion article of a bachelor graduate from SBE
“I want to prevent you from making those mistakes that I did - and even some that I did not.” Claus Michaelis did his bachelor studies at the School of Business and Economics. Today, 9 September 2013, he starts with a master program in Paris. In this opinion article he wants to give the freshmen of 2013 some good advice.
Let me welcome you to the most international university in the Niederlande… As you will find out pretty soon, neither the MECC, nor student-life in general is all about partying and having fun. In Maastricht, being a student also encompasses late nights in the library, learning the 20 steps of some theoretical pyramid and writing the conclusion of a paper 10 minutes before the deadline. Therefore, it is important to lay out a plan not only for the fun part of your studies but also for the more serious one. Let me give you some advice on the latter: I want to prevent you from making those mistakes that I did - and even some that I did not. As a business student my focus is more on the SBE, but I will try to make the guidance as transferable as possible.
One decision that you have to make very early in your ‘student career’ (I know – SBE students…), is to how ambitious you want to be in your professional career (which really starts now). You need to understand that the window of opportunity to some of the most sought-after careers (Business: Consulting; Politics: EU Administration) can get closed for you after messing up your first year in Maastricht. If you do not yet know what exactly you want to do in life, the smartest move is to aim high - just to be on the safe side. Your first year in Maastricht is the most important one, so don’t give up your future for some extra time in De Alla.
Amongst other things, this will prevent you from getting caught in the Resit-Cycle-of-Death which can break even the toughest students pretty fast. You should also understand that with the sheer work load that you will face in Maastricht, you need to learn how to study efficiently (i.e. ignore anything that says ‘recommended reading’). Find your way to handle with the stress of being an UM student – sports, friends, painting…
Well…let’s talk some business: The most important two strategic (professional) objectives of your time in Maastricht are (1) to find out WHAT you want to do in your life and (2) to get yourself into a great position to actually DO IT. The courses at your faculty will give you a broad overview of different areas in your chosen field. You will like some of the courses and dislike others. Please understand that knowing what you do NOT want to do is actually worth a lot…
One very important way of getting ahead with both of the above mentioned points – which I personally did not use enough – is doing internships: They let you peak into different types of businesses, see if that is what you want to do and provide the best way to actually land your dream job. One very important thing to note here is that you really cannot apply too early; only too late! Also, be prepared for a lot of rejection – accept it as a part of the game!
Maastricht University offers some awesome opportunities that other schools do not. One of them is tutoring. Being a tutor in a course that you really enjoy is an invaluable experience, earns you some extra money and enables you to develop useful skills.
Use the study abroad period to go to some place you really want to see– don’t follow some ranking, follow your heart! Start thinking early about what your study abroad destination should offer in terms of weather, people, languages and academics – then go ahead and ask the IRO for advice. In general, few things are more helpful than good information!
Now, for the more ambitious amongst you: There will be negative people who will try to drag you down. Unfortunately, (business) schools always have their fair share of enviers and haters. The easiest way to deal with these kinds of people is to ignore them – focus on working hard and achieving your own objectives!
No matter if you study business, medicine or philosophy: All of you have pretty much the same goal – getting that dream job of yours. Maastricht is a very good first step to achieve this – just make sure you don’t slip (burn out) along the way and look forward to the better days (…the end of exam week).
Maastricht is the definition of a work hard – play hard university. Make sure to find what makes you happy in life and find some people to share it (I guess that’s what ‘sharing success’ is about after all?).