After my wonderful exchange life in Vancouver for a year, I decided to do my master’s degree somewhere abroad someday.
European culture had been tempting to me since my childhood and thus, it was natural that I started hoping to study as a master student somewhere in Europe and immediately started planning it after I finished my bachelor’s degree in Japan.
Here are the situations and minimal conditions that I had back then:
- Getting professional working experience before applying to school
- School whose tuition fee is free for international students, even for the ones from outside EU
- The study field that includes either international business or entrepreneurship
1. Getting professional working experience before applying to school
I read several different articles and books about graduate schools and the master’s program abroad and many of them said that you could learn even more from the courses if you have professional working experience by linking the academic learnings to that.
Also, some schools might appreciate students who have working experience since they try to have students with diverse backgrounds and experience.
I got a job at a global company based in Kyoto that manufactures and sells semiconductor as a sales and marketer. Even though it was a traditional Japanese company that has strong hierarchy and long working hours under high pressure, I was able to learn basic skills as a business person during the three and a half years.
Fortunately it seemed that the experience there was valued by the schools I was accepted as well as companies I worked/am working here in Finland.
2. School whose tuition fee is free for international students, even for the ones from outside EU
I wanted to be sure that I could manage life there without financial support from my family and thus, I only focused on schools with no tuition fee. I googled something like “Europe, Business school, tuition fee, free” and it showed me some countries that don’t require the students to pay tuition fee.
That is, Finland, Norway, Germany and Estonia.
(*From 2017 Finnish schools require students from outside EU to pay tuition fee but they offer scholarship to many of them. Ask me if you have further questions regarding that.)
Based on my research, I found out that many German schools require German language skills to apply for most of the programs and Estonian schools didn’t have programs I was interested in. Therefore, my options were Finland and Norway and applied for four different business schools (two in Finland and two in Norway).
3. The study field that includes either international business or entrepreneurship
There seemed to be many schools that have study programs in English in the area of international business or entrepreneurship, but many schools have just other courses such as accounting and finance or various programs held in Finnish.
What I found intriguing was that many business programs both in Finland and Norway featured collaborations and projects with local companies and they value interactions between students, the universities, and the companies.
1) Preparing the documents
I prepared all the required documents from the schools, including CV, application forms, motivation letter, English certificate, etc …
My Canadian friend kindly checked my CV and the motivation letters and I still remember what he told me when he read through them.
“The Daiki I know is not just a worker for the company, he’s a guy who loves to travel, meet new people, and pushes/challenges himself to try new things and get out of his comfort zone. You have to sell yourself as a likeable person, not a product!”
I modified them based on his advice and his words are still one of my mottos when I think about my careers and life.
I was having hectic life with work back then, so I went to work at 7-7:30 and came home around 19, 20 or sometimes 21 and prepared those documents from 22. For some reason I wasn’t stressed that much since my motivation was supported by my hopes to study in Europe.
2) Video interview
Two schools out of the four required video interview in addition to the application documents. The one was normal interview and the other was a combination of the normal interview and a discussion about an academic article in the field of international business.
This school sent me literature (around 30 pages) about the diffusion of innovation one week before the interview. I read through the literature during my free time but wasn’t sure if I understand well enough to discuss with the interviewers, who will be my future thesis supervisor and a professor.
I told these situations to the Canadian friend who reviewed my CV and the application documents. Just after the two days, he summarised the main points of the literature from his own perspective and helped me prepare for the interview, like how I present my opinion towards the paper and what kind of questions I should make.
Thanks to his help, I got a feeling that I nailed the interview. I might have not been in Finland now without all of his help.
I got all results of the applications from four schools in the end of April 2016 and got accepted from two schools in Finland. For some reason I had a feeling that I would go to Finland even before the application period started and it turned into reality.
Both of two school seemed nice but I had no hesitation in choosing one of them, the Master’s degree program in International Business and Entrepreneurship at University of Jyväskylä, also known as Jyväskylä School of Business and economics.
I can’t really say why, but I followed my intuition and decided to go with the flow. To quit my job to pursue master’s degree at University of Jyväskylä is probably one of the best decisions I made in my life.
I will write another blog post about my experience from Finnish student life.