FH Magazine

Knowing what you're worth

It’s pure theory: You only find out later on when you are confronted with the real challenges of work and life what the knowledge you acquired during your studies is worth. Those who study at an Austrian University of Applied Sciences discover this relatively early on since a work placement – lasting a minimum of three months, but often a whole semester – is a fix part of their education. And this gives the overwhelming majority of students the certainty that they are up to the challenges of their chosen professional field. Up to a third of them can continue their studies with a good feeling, not having to worry about finding work after graduation because they have already received a job offer from the company where they completed their work placement.

SME or Enterprise
Students have a lot of freedom when deciding where and in which business to do their work placement, as long as the field of work matches their studies. If a student wishes to put his knowledge to the test in his parents’ business or with his own current employer, he can just as easily do it there or in an international enterprise. Students also like to take advantage of the opportunity to combine getting a taste of real-life work while getting to know foreign cultures. One of these students who opt for this combination is Lukas Heschl, a student at Campus Hagenberg of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria in the bachelor’s study programme “Communication and Knowledge Media”. He did his work placement in Shanghai and was able to experience first-hand at “Web2Asia”, an enterprise that does marketing for European businesses, how marketing in the real world works in countries where, for example, Google is prohibited. He also experienced business on Singles’ Day on November 11th. “Singles’ Day is similar to Black Friday in the U.S. – the one day of the year where businesses hope to make record sales,” he explains. “Being there for that was really great,” he reflects on the unique experience. And even if the strict visa policies in China significantly restrict the possibility of working there, the 23-year-old has already good chances, thanks to the contacts he established there. “I’m definitely going to stay in contact with my boss, and he told me that if I’m looking for work, I should apply with his company.”

Daily Working Life in Abu Dhabi
In her choice of places to complete her work placement, Sabrina Fuchs not only took on the challenge of demonstrating her theoretical knowledge in everyday business in a foreign country but also of proving herself as a woman in a male-dominated society. “I did my work placement with the business “HCL Technologies” in Abu Dhabi,” reports the student in the bachelor’s study program “International Business Studies” at the FH Kufstein in Tyrol. “And I learned, above all, assertiveness in a strongly male-dominated company and culture – but also patience, since all the processes take longer there than in Europe.” The 23-year-old worked in an international business in the IT sector in project management, where she found the meetings particularly interesting. In addition, she was able to conduct interviews with people with different cultural backgrounds on the topic of her bachelor’s thesis “Communication Behaviour in a Multi-Cultural Organisation”. “The time in the Emirates was very educational for me – but not always easy. It wasn’t until after my work placement that I realised a lot of things that I wasn’t so aware of while I was working there,” she says, summarising this exciting period of her education.

Experience with “Big Data”
Dariia Strelnikova also did her work placement abroad, which enabled her to fulfil a number of wishes with the support of her UAS. “I got a Marshall Plan scholarship at the end of 2016, which gave me the chance to work in the USA on a project between the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Florida called ‘Comparing the Suitability of Strava and Endomondo GPS Tracking Data for Bicycle Travel Pattern Analysis’,” reports the student in the bachelor’s study programme “Geoinformation” at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences. The content of the project was the utilisation of data from fitness apps from cyclists for further analyses. 

Family Responsibilities – No Obstacle
“I took my six-year-old son with me,” reports Strelnikova, which proves that stays abroad are also possible for mothers – whereby, in this specific case, an aunt helped out. Thanks to the favourable conditions, the 31-year-old was able to fully concentrate on the analysis of the data that was available to her through the cooperation. “In Austria, you have comparably small amounts of data. I experienced for the first time there the concept of Big Data and was able to work with billions of entries,” she reports. And as glad as she was to come home, “It was really great to learn what the differences are between the working environments in Austria and the USA.”

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