I had already spent two semesters abroad at the University of Mannheim as part of my bachelor's degree in business management. It was quite serendipitous because my advisor at the international programs office, at my home university in western Massachusetts came from Germany and recommended studying abroad in her home country. More specifically, she recommended Mannheim because of my background in business studies. I had a wonderful experience studying abroad in Mannheim that year, as well as interning the summer prior to my return, that I applied for that I applied for several master’s programs in Germany only to return to Mannheim!
First off, the University of Mannheim has an exceptional reputation, but there are several other reasons I like the program, the most important being the diverse student body and international opportunities. By the time I finished my studies in Germany, I wanted to have the connections, know-how, and resourcefulness to work internationally, and I truly feel the University of Mannheim can set me up for such opportunities. It's also great that students have the flexibility to choose from a number of courses outside of their specialization, unlike other programs that have more strict curriculums. I used this opportunity to take courses at the Chair of SME Research & Entrepreneurship, which I especially enjoyed. Finally, during my time abroad, I had made great friends and connected with a number of students from whom I learned a lot about the world, and who made my experience both wonderful and memorable. Being in touch with students from all over the world is very important to me, so the social aspect played an important role in my decision to return for my master’s degree. I did not want to limit myself to my ‘American bubble’, but to open myself up to an international, inclusive community eager to learn about each other’s unique perspectives.
The great thing about MCEI's courses is that they are practical and a lot of work is done in groups, which prepares you well for real life work. While working with others can be challenging, I find the end result to be rewarding and better than anything I would have achieved alone. My favorite course, Entrepreneurial Spirit, offered the opportunity to work with a Mannheim-based start-up, which proved to be one of the most practical, educational courses, and challenged many theoretic frameworks I had learned in others. Furthermore, the MCEI offers a number of opportunities to attend lectures, pitches, and workshops with individuals (including students), who have started their own business, or experts in the field, who are eager to share their personal experiences. It’s helpful to learn from students and like-minded individuals who share experiences closely related to mine, but even more importantly, these encounters give me the impression that starting my own business is a truly realistic and rewarding endeavor that is within my ability. Of course, if you take these courses, you don't have to start a business later (laughs). From conversations with interviewers and acquaintances working for larger companies, I also learned that companies are eager to hire people with start-up experiences and mindsets to help them become leaner, more creative, and competitive.
In the near future, I would like to work for company that has a lot resources for guidance and networking, as an opportunity to gain practical work experience and make contacts. But, when the time comes and I have an idea I truly feel inspired by, I would like to start my own business. Even though my goal to have my own business is a little way down the road, it is a dream I genuinely believe in because it’s true to the motto ‘The sky is the limit’. While owning and managing a company can be risky and unpredictable, the only limits you can place on achieving success – however you may define it – are the ones you place on yourself. I am not entirely sure whether I will end up Germany or go back to the United States, but I surely want to keep an open mind and remain flexible. At the moment, I’m applying for jobs in both places and will see where I can get the best opportunity.
I am crazy about sport climbing and bouldering. It’s an odd but increasing popular sport/
Text: Selina Supper / October 2019