What are the differences between study programs at Research Universities and those at Universities of Applied Sciences? Which one prepares a student for a Master’s Degree Program and which for employment? Should we care about academy snobbery? How can you choose the best possible university for our own circumstances, and what can you expect after getting a degree? Jenn and her guest share some very useful ideas and experiences that can be of great help to students and their parents.
In the second part of the episode, Jenn talks with Andrew Smith, who received his master’s degree at The University of Applied Science in Wiener Neustadt (Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt), in Austria and is now working for Deloitte in the US. Andrew shares his story and gives advice on how to find the best university in Europe.
“By studying abroad, you are going to brand yourself, and for someone who wants more of that international focus, studying abroad is a no-brainer.” Andrew Smith
Podcast Transcript –
Intro: You’re listening to the Beyond the States podcast with Jenn Viemont. Did you know that you can go to Europe and get your entire degree taught in English for less than one year of tuition at many American schools? Jenn will take you on a deep dive into the many benefits and options around English-taught higher education in Europe, helping to make the possibility less foreign.
Jenn Viemont: So today, we’re going to be talking to Andrew. He’s a graduate from Austrian University of Applied Science, where he got his master’s degree. He’s now working for Deloitte back here in the US. So this is a type of school that’s common in Europe, but unlike anything we have here in the US, so I thought it might be helpful to discuss the different types of universities in Europe.
So first, there are the research universities, there are research universities in every country across Europe. And since global rankings are based 100% on research related criteria, these are the ones that show up in the rankings, because of course, the focus is on research. At the bachelors level, these programs are more about preparing students for their master’s degree programs than for employment. And generally speaking, you’re gonna hear me say, generally speaking a lot today, Career Services at these universities are more focused on the Master’s Degree students. So programs at these schools concentrate on theory, as well as research related knowledge and skills. So students take classes like stats and research methodology type courses, and pretty much every year, I mean, it’s heavily focused on research related skills and knowledge.
So then there are universities of Applied Science. And these are full Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs, but they’re focused on practical knowledge rather than theory and research. Well, I mean, I shouldn’t say rather than theory and research, I should say, rather than the research heavy focus. It’s definitely more practical and hands on. So in some countries, there’s sort of a little bit of academic snobbery around this type of program. And in other countries, they’re just seen as something that’s different, instead of labeling it as better or worse. And in some countries, the government sees this type of education as valuable, and funds accordingly. Further, accreditation of universities of Applied Science in some countries look at employability. Partially because of this, these types of schools work together with businesses to determine what skills and knowledge are needed in the fields. And they work together on program development. So this is really a win-win type of relationship, because then employers have a pool of students with the skills and knowledge that they’re looking for, because they helped develop the programs to give them those skills. And it helps students find employment as well.
I personally would not hesitate to send either of my kids to universities of Applied Science in the Netherlands, Finland and Austria. I mean, there are also great individual universities of Applied Science in other countries. But in terms of sort of country wide quality, I do like those the best.
So of course, there are also specialized schools, you know, there are business schools, there are hospitality schools or art schools, fashion schools, and the like. This is a strong choice for business school students in particular, because you sort of get the strengths of both types of programs, you know, both the practical knowledge and the theory and research. And also, the specialized business schools often have industry ties that can really help with employment.
Generally speaking, I’ve found arts and design schools to be hard to navigate, and really sort of lacking in international student resources. I often advise students interested in the arts to look at programs at the Universities of Applied Sciences. Some universities of Applied Sciences have strong arts departments. And since the departments, which they call faculty in Europe, but I’ll just call them departments here, because you’re probably Americans listening. Anyway, since each of these art departments, well, each of the departments as a whole, they’re very self contained. It’s like going to an art school, but you have the benefits of the infrastructure and the resources of a larger university.
So let’s go back about how to choose whether you want to pursue a Research university or a university of Applied Science. Field of study is the first thing to look at, it might really just make the decision for you. If you want to study something like Philosophy, you’re going to be at a research university because you can’t really teach a practical hands-on approach to Philosophy. If you’re going to study something like Graphic Design or Physiotherapy, you’ll usually be at the University of Applied Science because you have to have the hands-on approach and practical skills.
Now there are some subjects that are going to be taught at both, but with different approaches or specializations. Business Engineering, some areas of Computer Science, those are types of programs that you’ll find both at research universities, and at universities of Applied Sciences. In more cases than not though, your area of study is going to be taught at one or another, except for those fields of study.
Admissions is the next thing to look at. In the Netherlands, bachelors at the Universities of Applied Science are four years in duration. And research universities are three years in duration. And this is just because of how the Dutch education system before University is structured. But it means that research universities require AP scores, an IB diploma, or a year of college credit. And Universities of Applied Science don’t have that requirement. So that’s if you’re interested in one of those overlap areas, and you don’t have the AP scores that can make the decision for you there.
Also, regarding Master’s Degrees, a lot of the Master’s best fit lists that I worked on for students, when they got their Bachelor’s Degree in the US, you don’t necessarily have the research related skills or requirements, really, you know, there aren’t a whole lot of requirements around research related classes, so a lot of students don’t have the research related classes that they need to get a master’s degree at a research university. So if that’s the case for you, and you’re looking for an area with those overlap areas, University of Applied Science could be something to look at there.
Okay, so let’s say you want to study something that’s taught at both, and you meet the admissions criteria for both. What should you think about then? Well, one thing to think about is how you like to learn. Some people get really excited about research, whether it’s reading the research of others or doing research themselves. And some people find that really boring. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s just about knowing what you like the most. Theory is going to be present in both types of university. It’s just that in research universities, it’s about applying the theories to research, while Universities of Applied Science, it’s about applying the theories to the field.
The next thing to look at are your goals. So if you want to pursue a PhD, or if you want to pursue a Master’s at a research university in Europe, a research university is probably the way to go for your bachelor’s. As we talked about before, this is because those research course related requirements for Master’s Degree programs aren’t part of the graduation requirements for universities of Applied Science. Now, these research related requirements aren’t usually prereqs in the US, so you’d still be okay to apply to grad school in the US from the university of Applied Science. And you can still go to research university in Europe, after you take these bridge courses, the ones that weren’t part of your degree before, like Stats or Quantitative Methods and things like that.
So we talked about how you’d like to get taught, or how you’d like to learn, I should say, we talked about goals. The other goal is if, you know, you want to work directly after your Bachelor’s Degree before or instead of getting a Master’s, then a university of Applied Science might be a better route to take. You’re gonna have the hands-on experience, then, and often the career services that you need to sort of launch your career. And again, you know, we’re talking about just the two choices right now universities of Applied Science or Research universities, but there are some of those specialized universities to consider as well, if your area of study is something that has specialized schools, certainly, if you want to study, you know, International Relations, there aren’t specialized schools for that.
So I want to say though, that when there’s a system that’s so different to the ones that we’re accustomed to, it can be hard to wrap our heads around. So we go at it with the frame of reference that we use here. And so we might think that a research university is better because it’s globally ranked, or because the admissions requirements at some are more stringent. And I don’t think there’s one universal definition of better when it comes to education. It’s about something being a better fit to you. You know, in order to know what’s better for you, it’s important to have or or to gain insight into your goals, whether those are just your you know, short term educational goals, or your professional goals, and to really know how and what you want to learn. And from there, you can determine the best route for you. There’s not just one best route.
So anyway, I’m excited for you to hear about Andrew’s experience in Austria. So we’re going to take a quick break and come back with Andrew.
Testimonial: I’m Tati. I’m from Atlanta, and I’m in my third year of study at HAN University in the Netherlands, and I found my university through my Beyond the State’s membership. I’d been interested in studying in Europe before I joined Beyond the States, but the research my mom and I did on our own often resulted in misinformation or information that didn’t apply to me as a native English speaker from an American high school. Nobody at my high school knew how to advise me either. With the help of the BTS database and membership resources, I was able to explore my different options and get advice from Jenn about admission strategies. Membership includes more these days than when I was a member. The private member Facebook group includes students and families at all stages of the process. When students go to Europe, we and our parents can stay in the group. Not only does this mean we can answer questions from members who are exploring, but we can get information and resources during our study. My mom is still in the group and has found it helpful, especially connecting with other parents during the height of COVID. If you’re interested in studying in Europe, I suggest that you join Beyond the States for at least a month. I don’t think you’ll regret it at all. Check the show notes for details and a link or visit the Services Page at beyondthestates.com.
Jenn Viemont: So today, I’m talking to Andrew Smith. He’s originally from New Hampshire, got his bachelor’s degree from Bentley University in Global Studies, and then went on to study at Wiener Neustadt, see if I didn’t mangle that enough, University of Applied Science in Austria, where he got his master’s in business consultancy. Andrew, thank you so much for being here today.
Andrew Smith: Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Jenn Viemont: So can you tell me a little bit about why you chose to get your Master’s Degree outside of the US?
Andrew Smith: Yeah, so I suppose it was kind of a two part. Reason is first, I’d always wanted to get my Master’s, I’m the first in my family to go to college, and that was something I knew I needed to get from my career goals and where I wanted to be. I was also looking to make a slight career change to get more technical from a finance perspective. And then, so that’s why I want to get my Master’s, but then why Austria? I get that question a lot. I had some friends in Austria that I met when they studied abroad when I was at Bentley university, so I had friends there. So I had somewhat of a network. And I have visited them there before. So that helps because being able to research schools and programs, it’s hard to get a feel if you’re not a local to know what programs are good. So being able to know through word of mouth and have people tell me that from their perspective, actual locals, actual law streams, was a big help. And then you know, I could start off with a few friends. So that’s why I ultimately ended up deciding on Austria.
Jenn Viemont: So did you study abroad in college?
Andrew Smith: Yeah. I spent the summer of 2016, I believe. Going into my senior year, I spent the summer in Ireland, where I had an internship and as well as I took classes.
Jenn Viemont: Nice. My daughter is planning on getting her Bachelor’s in Ireland. I just went there for the first time. It’s awesome.
Andrew Smith: Great country. Yeah, I was at University College, Dublin.
Jenn Viemont: So did you get like the travel bug then? So let me back up for a minute. So you graduate, you do your study abroad, you finish your Bachelor’s, and then you worked for a couple of years. Is that correct?
Andrew Smith: Yeah, when I finished my bachelor’s, I was pretty fed up with school. I was someone I’ve always been a great student, I always enjoyed learning. But when you do it, you know for that point, geez, 16 years straight, I wanted to work. And so I thought that was great. Because that’s something that I would recommend to a lot of people. Because I was able to, I graduated, get a break from doing school, gain some real world practical experience, and then through that work, I was able to get a better feel for what, where I wanted to take my career, which is then why I went to get my Master’s. And then also it gave me a much more of an appreciation when I was going to get my Master’s because I knew like what was saying what’s at stake sounds dramatic, but I knew what very tangibly what this Master’s could lead to, what type of jobs, I had experiences I could build off and referenced in class, and also having that break from being in a classroom setting made me more appreciate that type of learning. And I felt more energized going back into the classroom than when I graduated in 2017 with my Bachelor’s.
Jenn Viemont: I totally agree. I took a couple of years in between my Bachelor’s and Master’s and that seemed a lot more relevant than when I was studying it. It was abstract. So one obstacle that Master’s Degree students often have that less of the bachelor students we work with have is, you know, often students have more help from their family financially for Bachelor’s Degrees and that it’s like you know, Graduate Degrees are on your own. So were you working while you were studying or what was situation like there?
Andrew Smith: I think in total, I paid probably throughout the course of the two year program, let’s say between maybe 2500, 3500 USD, based off which exchange rate used at whatever time.
Jenn Viemont: Isn’t that crazy? That’s for international student tuition. And this is not one of the countries where, you know, it’s free for international students but 2500 to 3000 for two years for tuition?
Andrew Smith: Yeah. So the way it works at Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt, particularly is what they do in other schools in Austria, they’ll charge a higher rate if you’re a third country national, you’re not a citizen. But what Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt did is they wanted people from, you know, regardless of your country to have the same opportunity. So even me, as a US citizen, was paying the same tuition as an Austrian resident, and that mostly has to do with the schools that are outside of Vienna, get a little bit more funding from their state governments. So from the state government of Lower Austria, so that was great, that I was able to take advantage of, but even if they had to pay that higher tuition, it would have been nothing compared to what the US Master’s program would have been. I mean, just to give some perspective, my undergrad was probably between, I mean, it rose every year when I was there, but around like average out to maybe $56,000 a year. And then Master’s 2500. So yeah, I would say it was a great financial decision, by me.
Jenn Viemont: And the thing is, is with a tuition like that, you can certainly save up, you know, $3,000 for tuition. That’s something that’s achievable without going into debt. And then you just need to worry about getting proof of means for your Visa and living expenses.
Andrew Smith: Yeah, yeah, that was a good point. So yeah, back to your original question about me working. I’ve had this thought in my mind for a while. So I saved up while I was working full time in the US. So I had quite a bit of savings that I knew I could get me through the two years, I wasn’t going to take that leap into another country. But my parents certainly would have helped me out. But I didn’t want to have to rely on them. And then because of my needing a residence permit in order to work, and then even if you do have a residence permit, right, if you’re a third country national, you need one. In Austria, employers need to like sign off kind of sponsor you and fully sponsor, but they just need to submit a paper, the local employment authorities. There’s also some restrictions on how much you can work per month. It’s very complicated, classic Austria with all the rules and bureaucracy. But I did work for a few months at the end of 2020. And then when things were getting locked down pretty bad, I returned to the US. But yeah, I was able to find a job there. That’s pretty relevant. It has helped me with my job today. That was just like, you know, some nice, like supplemental income. But the cost of living was lower than over in Boston, where I’m from, or the Boston area. So it was I was able to just get by, on my savings just with some smart financial planning before I moved abroad.
Jenn Viemont: You reminded me of a story, unrelated to this topic, but related to Austria. I visited schools in Austria a few years ago, and I took my daughter with me who was at that time, maybe 14, 15. And so I would go to meetings, and then she would go back to school and do her, go back to our Airbnb and do her schoolwork. And I definitely like my kids to, my son’s 20 My daughter’s 17 now, I like them to get comfortable internationally and know that they can get around and, you know, gain those independent living skills. So I would put her wherever we went, you know, put on a train, go back to the Airbnb, you know, we’d go through how do you know what is your stuff and all that. Well, what we didn’t realize is that in Austria, you need to validate your train ticket before you get on. And so she had her train ticket, but she hadn’t validated it, which is just like kind of a put under scanner type thing before you get on the train. And so these guys get on the train, plainclothed. And I’m not with her, I’m at my meeting. Plainclothe guys get on and they start checking tickets, and they check hers and of course it wasn’t validated. And they pull her off the train and oh, she has to pay 100 euros. She’s sobbing trying to get a hold of me. She did get a hold of me. And what they said to her, they said she’s like “I didn’t know, I didn’t know!” She’s like my rule follower child. They said “In Austria we have rules.” You’re right, and they certainly do!
Andrew Smith: They don’t need to make sense, but if Rules are rules, you got to follow them. And yeah, the train ticket. Yeah, they’re like undercover. It’s kind of wild.
Jenn Viemont: Well, she got out of it. Finally, I guess the trick is to look like a young teenage girl and cry your eyes out?
Andrew Smith: Yeah, I didn’t have that luxury. But thankfully, I never ran into any of those situations on the train.
Jenn Viemont: Yeah, so note to anyone listening, you go to Austria, get your train ticket validated. Word to the wise.
Andrew Smith: That’s where having like those friends and you know, meeting locals. Learn those little, like tricky parts of local customs that you’re not going to read. There’s no pamphlet at the airport when you get there. You just have to learn it.
Jenn Viemont: Right. There was no sign that says validate your ticket in any language. Yeah. To learn. Okay, sorry, that was just you wouldn’t have said rules that just reminded me of that story that traumatized her, but taught her some important lessons. So you said you’re from the Boston area? I’ve been to Wiener Neustadt, gosh, I just can’t say it. I’ve been there. And it’s definitely a small town. How was that adjustment for you?
Andrew Smith : I thought it was fine. So I lived in Vienna, I would commute in, but it was, so I’m from New Hampshire, which is like 30 minutes north of Boston. But I lived in Boston, or right around there when I was in college, and afterwards. So I think that’s like 30,000 people, which is the size of the town I grew up in. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time there. Most of my time was in Vienna since I lived there. That adjustment was, I kind of right just like anything with an abroad there’s things that I didn’t like versus where I grew up and where I’m from and there’s things I like better public transportation, love that public transportation is terrible in Boston, amazing in Austria, that’s something I still miss the food, I miss aspects of that. Not everything is filled with like awful chemicals there in the US. This is great. But yeah, I think it was too much of an adjustment. I traveled before for work and personal stuff. And I’ve always, I guess been a little more like, culturally open minded. And it comes as being in cities, knowing hey, this is different. I’m not expecting everything to be like home. That works. So yeah, I just I just took it as it was, I suppose. It wasn’t too bad, though. But there’s also like, if you look at some research of how people are personality wise, and Austria in the US aren’t that different. They are, but it’s still like, a Western European country. And there’s how people tend their frame of mind is still somewhat similar. So it wasn’t like this crazy culture shock.
Jenn Viemont: I liked what you said about being culturally open minded. We just got back from living in Portugal for two years. And I think the biggest thing for us was when we experienced these differences, not to view them as better or worse, they’re just different. And it doesn’t have to be one doesn’t have to be better than the other or worse than the other. It’s just the difference.
Andrew Smith: Exactly. Yeah. And it can open your mind to new things. Like for example, I love the sense of community that you see in a lot of our stream like towns and villages, because the hot plots and it’s not so the way the US does, Illinois, suburban communities, how it’s built dependent on the automobile, it doesn’t feel as like close and tight knit and connected. So for example, when we would get off for classes on Thursday or Friday evening, we’d go to the hot plots, this little town square, and have a beer too. And there’s kids playing on the playground nearby. And there’s, you know, old people having espressos and people have an ice cream, and it just feels like the whole town’s in the square. And I thought that was so cool. And I really wish that’s something I could see more in the US, because it just gave the sense of like vibrance and community that I just hadn’t seen before. And it was like, “Oh, this is something different.” But I really enjoyed it.
Jenn Viemont: I tell students that a lot, because sometimes they’ll come to me, even students who have traveled a lot and say they want to live in a big city, they want to go to a university in a big city. And I tried to explain how smaller towns and smaller cities in Europe are so different than smaller towns in the US. And part of that is the community, part of it’s the public transportation that you can really get anywhere you need to go, but it’s definitely not as isolated as the smaller towns in the US.
Andrew Smith: No, definitely not, especially with their that how high quality their their transportation network is like with the trains, I mean, door to door, I think my commute in Vienna, I kind of lived on the other side of the Danube. So I had like the longest commute of anyone in my program, but it was an hour and a half, which sounds bad, but the trains are so nice that I was able to just do all my work and homework. So yeah, it’s an hour and a half. By the time I get back to my flat, I had no work to do or I’d be able to get studying in or prep for a class. So that was just efficient. And I thought that was great. As opposed to maybe if I was doing that in the US, I’d have to drive. And obviously it’s not safe to like do homework and drive. So yeah, I was able to be more efficient. That was something I really enjoyed as well.
Jenn Viemont: That’s cool. So can you tell us a little bit about your Master’s Degree program? You know, what did you study? What structure of the program?
Andrew Smith: Yes, so our program was, so as I said, there’s the Business Consultancy International Program, and then there’s the specialization I was in, that was Treasuring Investment. So there were some courses that both The Treasury Investment and Marketing Analytics students were in, those would be more broad, like consulting skills, courses or economics. And then there’s most of our courses that were for a specialization. So those would be things like equity analysis, fixed income, derivatives, advanced corporate finance, stuff like that. So the real lights, the bulk of our courses, it was a lot of like equity analysis, like how to evaluate companies, a lot of work with fixed income options and derivatives, and then the corporate finance part that’s kind of more Treasury Investment. So I guess, which is how some students in our program were, it’s kind of do you want to go more like the investment banking type route, or the more corporate finance treasury type route, or consulting, like me. And then I couldn’t speak too much like the Marketing Analytics and what they did. But I thought it was, for the money, I paid, certainly, pretty high value.
I went to Bentley University for my undergrad, which is a pretty good business school in the Boston area, and it was fairly comparable, I’d say, especially in some courses. I had some great professors. So certainly, I’ll give them credit. I know our Econometrics course, our Statistics courses, were awesome. It totally took my skill set in those subjects to another level. To the point now where I’m at Deloitte, you know, I was able to kind of show off a little bit when I interviewed to be on the project that I’m on now. And I thought it was pretty high quality, if I’m being honest. Also, I know Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt has several Bloomberg terminals, which are pretty expensive. But that’s something great that we were able to make use of and get used to using that software. And you don’t see that a lot of public universities in Austria, there was something you know that made them stand out. But yeah, overall, it was a good program. And as I mentioned, the focus was kind of there’s the equity analysis part and corporate finance, and it did a good job of the technicality and skills. They’re more hard skills, which is something I want to learn. Learning advanced Excel, we learned how to program, which was something that was great. And it’s something that I’ve talked about on my resume multiple times since then. So being able to have those skills. I’ve noticed a very tangible impact from my courses.
Jenn Viemont: That’s why it was like you were just speaking a foreign language but I’m sure that our listeners, you know, what business and finance totally understand about what you’re talking about. But did you have an internship?
Andrew Smith: When I was there, I interned at a small boutique consulting firm that did like a profitability and finance consulting for the startups and smaller companies in the Austria in Germany region. Yeah, prior to that. So the summer of 2020, I interned with Deloitte, and that was it was actually sort of supposed to be an 11 week internship. So 2020 was the summer of COVID, that short two week virtual internship, which I was pretty bummed out about, because I was supposed to be traveling around. And I also didn’t make nearly as much money because there’s only two weeks. But a benefit of that, was that they automatically extended full time offers to everyone. Yeah. So hence my position now. And yeah, so I think it directly tied into that. I probably want to touch on this later. But basically, studying in Austria, was such a, it was a conversation point in every interview I was in. Even a partner for Deloitte Comm did say how interesting my resume was, because of the international experiences I’ve had in Ireland, and Singapore, and Austria. And not that, you know, I don’t think I had the best resume, I had a decent resume. But I certainly know people, you know, in my network who have accomplished more, but it was interesting, and that was the thing I noticed. I heard the word interesting a lot in coming from, for most Americans who don’t study abroad, or maybe they did do a semester, but to actually live and work and study in another country. It’s just interesting. So it kind of is, I said, I’m good with interviews, you just gotta get me on the phone. Like I’ve been rejected from countless places. But once I get to the interview, I do pretty well. And it just made my resume stand out enough to say, “Hey, this guy looks interesting. Let’s give him a call, see what he has to say.” And then from there, it’s in my hands.
Jenn Viemont: I think it’s a little bit of a myth that a lot of people my age think awesome. Your parents say, Well, if an employer hasn’t heard of the university, why would they give the kid an interview? And I think you’re standing, like you said, you’re standing out they have a pile of things that look pretty much the same. And here’s something that’s different and interesting. I also wonder, I was talking to somebody recently who’s done research on the employability of students with international experiences. And she was talking about the skills that students gain through studying abroad, unrelated to your work, you know, unrelated to your technical skills, but things like adaptability and working in teams with different types of people and all sorts of the skills you’ve gained from that experience. And I’m wondering if you see that you gained any of those skills, and if so, how you were able to present them to employers, so they knew you had them?
Andrew Smith: Oh, absolutely. I think working with people from a diverse set of backgrounds is something that’s huge, especially in today’s environment, where so many companies want to focus on diversity and inclusion. I think that’s something where if you’re looking at, I’ve never met somebody close minded, who’s like had the travel bug abroad. It’s kind of like you can’t have a really miserable time. So you kind of know, you’re gonna get someone’s lie. They’re accepting of other people, and they know how to function in comfortable situations. Obviously, going into a culture right and speak the language right away, was certainly uncomfortable in positions. Critical thinking, I guess, yeah, maybe you mess something up, you don’t get a train ticket validated, the homeless situation. But I think I’d say the top two are probably, yeah, adaptability, and being able to work when uncomfortable, and then working with people of a diverse set of backgrounds, and be accommodating of that. Especially where now we’re moving to such a virtual work environment and working with people from all across the globe, have certainly honed my skills. Little things, like maybe speaking clear English, slowing things down, how to tailor email correspondence and presentations towards people where English is their second language, and just maybe it’s giving them materials ahead of time, or just little things like that can go a long way. And that’s certainly where things tend to be going with how globalized work has gotten.
Jenn Viemont: And maybe that’s something that people again, my age, don’t see as much firsthand, is how globalized companies have become. Would you say in your, tell us a little bit about your position and whether you’re seeing digitalization in that?
Andrew Smith: Yes. So I guess, I can say my previous, since it’s relevant, my previous role before I moved to get my Master’s, I worked for a firm that was literally called Globalization Partners. And we had helped US companies, mostly US, hire individuals overseas and expand their presence overseas. Super interesting company. And that was crucial. Because on a regular day, I wouldn’t be talking with people from, be it clients, or who my people to my clients, we’re hiring people from Germany, France, Singapore, like, at least, I’d say, five different countries on a daily basis. So you need, yeah, I would say, cultural understanding, to work in that.
And then my role now, Deloitte does have a large offshore presence in India. And then there’s also our clients who may have people coming from wherever their business needs, or just from whatever walk of life. And I think, yeah, it is important, we’re just, there was something we covered in training, where we were taught, you know, you’re gonna have to deal with people that English is not their first language, or maybe it’s their third. And so they were talking about what to do. And that was, I felt like, oh, I’ve been doing this for years.
Jenn Viemont: You could have taught it.
Andrew Smith: Yeah. I think it’s super valuable. And also being able to have that experience of, if someone’s from, it’s a nice little icebreaker, a talking point, where someone’s like from Germany, and you can strike up a conversation or wherever, and now you’ve created that. They’re starting to build a little rapport with a client or a co worker, and that helps you stand out because you’re not just you know, some American that never left their state. It’s “Oh, okay, this guy, he’s been around him. He knows a couple of words in German, and he’s likes that.”
Jenn Viemont: Well, he doesn’t. Yeah, and here’s somebody who’s curious about the world or curious about my culture, or neighboring cultures, or other cultures just in general. And Deloitte. I mean, everybody knows Deloitte, even me, and I don’t know much about business, the business world at all. And the major business programs in Europe, you often see them as a major recruiter. So they clearly are seeing some some value in a global play field.
Andrew Smith: Yeah. I know. There are definitely, there were several people in like my incoming cohort who came from European universities or some Asian universities. But I think that’s why I think, I mean, the firm has echoed to us numerous times, about their efforts towards diversity inclusion, and I think a part of that you know, things like skin color, religion, gender, all that is that’s one part of it, but another part is diversity of backgrounds and experiences. And it’s right if you have if you only hire for, let’s say, 10 universities, regardless of skin color, or whatever, are you really that diverse? Whereas opposed to reaching out to people have come from whatever experiences they may have, and they can all be evaluated on a team, and it just gives you different perspectives on things.
Jenn Viemont: That’s really interesting. And not only that, but those 10 universities, those universities that employers recruit from. What employers are seeing, the studies are showing that what employers see in US graduates is that they don’t have those soft skills that we talked about, you know, being comfortable in unfamiliar circumstances, you know, navigating unfamiliar circumstances, adaptability, you know, comfort with diversity, all of that. You as graduates, aren’t graduating with those skills.
Andrew Smith: Yeah, I guess that. That doesn’t surprise me too much. I think that that was one thing I did appreciate with my program. It wasn’t like I was just, it was just me, the American, a bunch of Austrians. We were probably, it was, I don’t even know if there were any Austrians there, one of my good friends is half Austrian, I think there’s a couple of that. There’s a group of Hungarian, some people from Asia, people throughout Europe, a lot of people from the Balkans. But yeah, it was a great melting pot, and being able to talk to other people and hear their stories from their countries was awesome, because we tend to get even just, I guess, from a personal point, like you tend to get only certain narratives through the news or whatever. But being able to talk to people was, it was just great, because you hear different things that you would never hear otherwise, and be able to understand people on a better level, and in their countries as well and get their perspective on things. And it was, and I’ve made some great friends, I’ll you know, have with me for the rest of my life through that. And I’m super thankful for it. So I think yeah, it all ties in, I think to making a better employee. I think I’m, you know, all in all better off for doing it than if I were not to, of course.
Jenn Viemont: Do you feel like there were any obstacles you faced because you did have a degree from abroad?
Andrew Smith: Possibly, maybe, with things such. Yeah, maybe like the name recognition could have hurt for applying for some jobs. It’s tough to tell, like I keep an Excel sheet of like, what I’m like where I was declined, accepted to, and I still have it because I use it. It’s almost a chip on my shoulder. it’s so weird, where of all I applied, to so many firms for intern booths for internships going into summer of 2020, and so many firms of different sizes and industries or what have you. And arguably,probably the best role, the best position, the best company to be in this Deloitte program is the one that accepted me, but the other ones didn’t. So I kind of don’t know what to make of that. Like, maybe I suppose it could have been “Oh, we haven’t heard of this school.” But then I have this position. And I didn’t think I would be in one like a dream job for me. I’ve always wanted to be in consulting. And yeah, that’s the one that accepted. So I’m kind of, I don’t worry about it too much. Because I think I know what stood out. Like I said, I heard it from the mouth, like I had a partner who said how cool it was. So it’s like, okay, well, this is ultimately what matters. Like I don’t, you know, so I’m sure you’re always going to encounter that. There’s schools that are in shortlist and those who aren’t, even in the US, of course. But ultimately, all in all, all it takes is one like just to get your foot in the door. And as I’ve said, I’ve heard from so many people, it’s interesting. And I think that’s a big thing. Like if you just got to pique someone’s interest, and get on that phone interview. And then from there, it’s all on you
Jenn Viemont: And kill it there. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I really feel like the jobs and the companies that somebody who goes to school in Europe and comes back to the US to work, that position they want, the companies they want to work for are not companies, it’d be like “You went where?” You know, like the companies that do find it interesting, or do find it valuable, that’s where you’re going to want to be if you’re somebody who is as internationally minded as you are or other students who’s in their home country.
Andrew Smith: That’s a great point. I guess I hadn’t considered that before. But definitely, even when I was applying, I wanted a role that I would be able to travel or work with people, like to go abroad and like because that’s what I enjoy. And I wouldn’t want to work for some company where it’s yeah, it’s just more closed minded. It just wouldn’t be a good culture fit probably anyway. So I think if you know, you’ll attract however you tend to you’re going to brand yourself as what companies you’re going to attract who are looking for that brand of employee. And I think that someone who wants that more international focus, going abroad, getting your degree abroad is kind of a no brainer, especially with rising tuition costs. I mean, I’m someone who my parents didn’t go to college, they worked very hard to give me everything but they didn’t really plan and save to have a college fund. And I wasn’t going to do round two with this massive student loans. And then to get a position where I’m in now, at Deloitte, like it’s incredible. Kind of an arbitrage opportunity where I, you know, I left and then came only paid like three grand in tuition and then got this amazing position. And I’m super thankful for which, even my family thought I was kind of crazy giving up a good job in Boston, and like, what are you doing? And even like, my family grew up in the same neighborhood for like, seven years, my parents grew up on different ends of the same street and high school everything. So I was the first, I was the crazy guy that was going off to Austria. And I just kept saying, like, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing and this is going to work out,” and then it did. And now I kind of get to hold it over them. Like “You called me crazy, but look who’s right?” And they’re like, “Yeah, you were. You were right, you know what you were doing.” And yeah, it all worked out.
Jenn Viemont: So you got your Master’s Degree with no debt. You got a job with Deloitte, for heaven’s sakes. I mean, that’s like no small feat. And you’re back with your family and friends, correct? So you know, it is kind of like, yeah, it is just like the dream situation, you know, this international experience. And what I find is that, like, when you do something big like that, like, you know, we moved to Portugal, and we’re back here in North Carolina now. And we had originally planned to stay there for longer and things just didn’t work out that way. But I feel like, tell me if you relate, once you do something big, you know you can again. You know, to go live in Singapore, you can. You have the competence and the skills you need to do so.
Andrew Smith: Yeah, the biggest thing was the residence permit. That’s my advice to anyone. Be on top of that. And don’t apply through the consulate in New York City, do it when you get Austria, because that proved a big headache for me. But navigating that, in hindsight, maybe I should have hired a specialist to go through it with me. But I did it all on my own, which was tough, very tough. And I made some mistakes along the way. And you know, everything kind of worked out just in the nick of time. But yeah, you’re right. Having done that, it kind of gives you get no fear. That’s like, here I am. I’m 26. So getting older, I’m still a young man. And it’s, you know, I know, like, “Hey, I already moved abroad, did my own residence permit.” Yeah, so there’s really nothing I’m like, concerned about. I know, I can just tackle whatever, you know, life stuff throws at me.
Jenn Viemont: That’s awesome. And I have to tell you, as the mother of a 20 year old boy, not yet a 26 year old man, that’s my hope for him. I hope it’s up when he’s 26. His knowledge of himself is such that he knows he can handle whatever it is that comes to him in life and pursue whatever goals he creates for himself in life.
Andrew Smith: Yeah, yeah. And I think just really yet going abroad, like being away from your family, is the best way to do that. It’s just the little things that build you up. It’s the messing up the train tickets, screwing up the residence permits, like it. Yeah, it’s a lot of like, the paperwork that kind of, like, I’m sure there’s probably some motivational quote, like it’s a paperwork that makes the man, that like, makew you grow as a person. And I, in coming back, and you know, living back in my hometown now. So it’s like, yeah, I’ve traveled a lot. But I still love where I grew up, I love being around. And I’m able to view things in a different light and be more appreciative of it. And also, you know, it’s something cool to talk about, where a lot of my friends haven’t done that opportunity, or have done something like that, and have just stayed local. So it’s really great. And I recommend it to anyone, it’s something else. I’ll certainly push my children to do one day down the road.
Jenn Viemont: Well, Andrew, I really appreciate you talking to us today. I think you have really provided some great information for students who are thinking about doing this, for parents who are concerned that their kids will go to Europe and never come back. You know, it was great to talk to you and I really appreciate it and I wish you the best and hope you’ll keep us posted.
Andrew Smith: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
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