In this post, MSc Finance, Technology and Policy student Immy Asavabhokhin, describes how programme and university level networking events helped support her transition into academic life at the University.
The most challenging thing for me when I arrived here was transforming into a very research-intense university. I had a Bachelor of Business degree (BBA) in Finance at a relatively vocational business school from my country (Thailand). Although my MSc programme is not very research-based, and is highly vocational relative to other programmes at the university, I still find it very challenging when I have to write an academic paper (especially the dissertation!). I’m used to reading and citing news articles and writing only short reports. Only later did I learn that news articles are not academic papers to refer to. Moreover, getting an A is much more challenging than ever.
Apart from “being more academic,” the teaching class structure is also very different. The teaching periods here are shorter and sparser. When I was doing my BBA, we had three hours per week for each class, while the teaching blocks at UoE are usually only two hours per week, and many do not run every week or until the end of the semester. Instead, we were given more structured office hours by each lecturer. Self-studying had become a larger part of my learning, I was assigned much more reading assignments than before, and it is the first time I was introduced to a “flipped-classroom.”
Besides the classes, I really appreciate the workshops that the university organises. At the business school alone, there are seminars or workshops almost every day throughout the year, both online and offline, both by the university staffs and by the guest speakers who are currently working in the industry. Events that MSc FinTech students were explicitly invited to usually take place in the evening after a teaching day. We were also able to join other events. The events are very well advertised in the events page, such as the “Events @ Edinburgh” page, IAD open workshops, and the Business School events page. The seminar events are usually free of charge and have snack and drinks at the end along with the networking session. Even in the light of COVID-19, the workshops still run online for anyone to book and attend. Right now, we have plenty of workshops pertaining to dissertation writing, which has helped me a lot in forming my plans.
The Business school organised a few dinner parties. We had a welcome party and a mid-semester party with skittles for MSc FinTech in the first semester. In January, I had an opportunity to join Business School Alumni Party at Balmoral Hotel where we danced Ceilidh after the dinner in which we also celebrated for Robert Burns’ Day. At first, I was hesitant to register for the alumni party. I thought I could be awkward among the alumni as a current student, but I was glad I went, and I wish more current students went there too. We were also supposed to have an alumni weekend consisting of several seminars and parties in the middle of May, which I already signed up for. Sadly, the pandemic took it away from us, so we only have some online seminars and networking events.
In addition, almost every business school programme has at least one trek during their programme time, which usually takes place during the reading week in February or in the summer. The treks can be anywhere around the world, from within Edinburgh to New York City. Treks are my favourite experience of the programme. This year, MSc FinTech had a few: a short trip to codebase in the welcome week; a day trip to RBS, and a 3-day trip to London. It gives us an insight into the industry and what the working environment in the UK looks like, while exploring with our programme colleagues.
Overall, it’s been a packed year despite the pandemic. I enjoyed almost every experience here. For those who are coming in the next years, I would suggest signing up and showing up for as many university events as possible to get the fullest experience. Plus, most of them are free of charge!