12 March 2020
In April 2019, I received an offer to start the MSc Finance programme at the Business School the following September. I had dreamed of studying in the UK from a young age and now was the time to make it happen. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to secure official sponsorship for my studies.
I was almost deterred from accepting my offer, but I made the decision to be more creative in raising the funding that I would need. This experience taught me about being more intentional in making my dreams a reality. This means learning to set clear goals and being tenacious in achieving them. I set five main goals for the academic year, and this is how I have progressed in achieving them.
Study Hard and Do Well on My Coursework and Exams
This required me to plan my weeks well ahead of time so that I could attend all of my lectures and tutorials, revise material that I didn't understand, and ask for help from my closest friends when I needed it. The University has an impressive support structure when it comes to the academic development of students. I was assigned an academic tutor who I could contact whenever I felt the need to clarify concepts. I have attended workshops organised by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD), covering a variety of academic topics from how to get started on your studies at masters level, to how to develop your research question for your dissertation.
Approach Written Assignments as Though I Was Writing for Publication
The ultimate goal is to write a dissertation that is of publication quality. To achieve this, I will take advantage of the free writing workshops offered by the IAD in the coming months. Until then, I am relying on the available online resources to improve my academic writing. I am also actively engaging with my lecturers and course content to uncover interesting research questions and how best to answer them. The positive feedback I have been receiving from my lecturers on the written assignments I have submitted so far has been encouraging and a source of motivation.
Find My Next Job
I am from South Africa and I worked as an Analyst in Corporate and Investment Banking for two years before I started the programme. My goal is to find an Analyst or Associate role in the development finance sector. Because this is such a niche area in finance, opportunities for young professionals are harder to come by. For this reason, I have had to expand my job searches wider than expected. Fortunately, the Business School has an excellent Student Development Team.
The Student Development Team offers comprehensive advice on searching for jobs in areas that interest you, writing impactful CVs and cover letters, and preparing for interviews. This takes place alongside a programme where students are given the opportunity to develop in-demand interpersonal skills, such as networking and cross-cultural communication. I have taken advantage of the online resources, one-to-one consultations and group workshops as regularly as possible. As an Edinburgh Award participant, I even have the opportunity to consult with a professional development coach, who helps me reflect on the progress I have made in developing my core skills and competencies, as I prepare for life after graduation.
Make New Friends and Expand My Networks
The University accepts students who come from many different parts of the world—an excellent opportunity to learn about different cultures! I have become acquainted with people from at least 20 countries. Each person I have met has displayed a unique personality and motivation for choosing to study at the University of Edinburgh. Hearing their stories has been a highlight of my own journey.
Have Fun and Travel
Making the most of living more than 10,000km away from home also means being open-minded about trying new forms of entertainment, food, and drinks. Edinburgh is a beautiful city with plenty to do. I have visited Edinburgh Castle, hiked Arthur's Seat, strolled through Dean Village, and caught beautiful sunsets at Portobello beach. I have visited many local pubs and restaurants and sampled the traditional Scottish dish, Haggis, while enjoying locally made whisky.
It has now been six months since the start of the programme and I have not yet achieved all of my goals, but each day at the Business School (and beyond) presents numerous opportunities for me to get closer to the end goal. I look forward to the remaining six months of the programme, and to having a great story to tell about my time at the University of Edinburgh after graduation.
If you would like to get started preparing for your time here, I recommend visiting these sites and keeping them in mind for later:
Mpho Sebesho is studying for the MSc in Finance