What to do next!?
“I am already in my senior year, but I have no idea what I am going to do with my life. People around me are getting jobs, internships, graduate school offers. Is it too late for me to start anything now?”
This is a direct quote from my diary. Back then, I was approaching the end of my Bachelor’s at the University of California, Davis and had started to seriously consider the next few steps for my education and career. I was stressed and didn’t have a single clue about what might happen in the future.
I would like to pursue my career in the US and the international student office at UC Davis advised me that international experience outside of the US would be extremely beneficial for when returning to America and open numerous doors.
After previously living in Asia and America, I was planning to head across seas. I wanted to study a Master of Finance so I aimed for Europe’s strongest economy, which lead me to Frankfurt, the financial hub of Germany, as this will leave me in an excellent position when looking for employment.
I came across Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and the #1 Master of Finance in Germany ticked all of the points on my checklist. Not only was I about to attend Germany’s top business school, but the European Central Bank was about to become my neighbor and I would also be based in the center of Europe meaning travel, new cultures and new experiences would all be within arm’s reach.
Frankfurt School here I come!
Life after Semester one
Now, it’s been about six months since I began my studies at Frankfurt School and I am ready to start the second semester. So here’s what I think about life at Frankfurt School and being in Germany.
As a private school in Germany (although the fees are lower than state school fees in the US), our classes are as small as 40 students and the Frankfurt School class profile consists of only 1500 students. In my Master of Finance intake, we have about 170 students from 34 nationalities, half of my classmates are German and the other half are international.
Classes run based on the “3-day Model”, meaning we are at school either on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday or Thursday, Friday or Saturday. During the rest of the week, we can take German classes, attend various events or use the opportunity to work three days a week.
Frankfurt School offers many professional events as well as networking events. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the amount of networking events that the school holds when I first arrived. Holding a glass of wine or champagne and talking to different people from different backgrounds and locations for an entire evening can be tiring! But after a certain amount of “training” I really enjoy networking and it is an essential skill for professional and personal development.
Events have included visits from Citi Bank and the Co-CEO of Goldman Sachs Germany. At these events, you can perform tasks assigned by investment bankers, ask professionals about their daily routine, discuss the most recent news or deals and gain insights about interview and application processes for top internships in London and Frankfurt.
- Career Fair:
The wide range of international companies in and around Frankfurt offer great opportunities for international students. Providing you with a bucket list of companies before the fair has even started. Many companies with high reputations in industries of finance, including: the big four, Goldman Sachs, IBM and J.P. Morgan attend the Frankfurt School career fair. The challenge for international students here is the language as many companies would still like to hire German speakers. This excites me rather than upsets me as it is so easy to practice and improve my German in Germany, which will only be beneficial in the long run!
- Career Service:
The Careers Services provided me with personal cover letter and CV support and narrowed down companies that are suitable for my career goals. I was put in contact with employees and alumni from specific companies, enabling me to broaden my network, which was a tremendous help during the application process. So even if you don’t speak German, you still have the opportunity to be employed by your dream company.
- International Students:
As an international student, I can work 90 full days or 180 half days without restriction of having to work at the university. In Germany, it’s very important to accumulate practical experience through internship or job opportunities. Therefore, the 3-Day Model is an excellent advantage for students to explore their career opportunities throughout their studies, something that is not available at other schools.
It has the perspective of an international city as you can survive even if you can’t speak German. There is cuisine from all over the world, various events and exhibitions and many job opportunities. Frankfurt has the traditional German city perspective, where it’s calm and quiet, and people are very friendly and open to new residents. Even though we hear news about the increase of instability in Europe, as long as we are cautious, safety is still guaranteed. One thing to note is that most stores in Germany don’t open on Sundays, therefore there are always long queues at the cashier on Saturday evenings.
So I heard there is not much you can do outside of work and study in Germany…
Rumor has it that life in Germany can be boring, but I’m telling you this is just a rumor.
Events and opportunities are readily available and you will find lots of hidden surprises in this country. For me personally, I enjoy my life in Germany very much. I like to listen to my friends from different continents talking about their lives and different perspectives of the world. After a long day of class, my favorite way to unwind is to go to the 6th floor of the gym, run on a treadmill and watch the evening sun warm skyscrapers in the city, leaving a glorious glow.
Advice for now and the future
I had an amazing time studying at UC Davis as it provided me with a solid educational preparation for graduate school. I knew that Frankfurt would provide me with new international experiences, amazing friends and an elite education. Yet life at Frankfurt School has been better than I ever anticipated and it was definitely the next logical step.
So I decided to continue my diary as I can now answer my questions that I asked myself during my senior year, “Hi, the younger me! I am you about a year and half later and guess what!? I am in Germany and studying the Frankfurt School Master of Finance. I want to tell you, don’t stress! It’s never too late to start anything. If you always seek out opportunity and be bold, you will always achieve your dream. Greetings from Frankfurt and best wishes from yourself!”