Aston turned out to be well-known for its business course and the students from Aston are better appreciated by employers. I found the teaching methods are also better than other universities and the Professors and lecturers are very famous in their fields.
Home country : China
Course: MSc International Business (Class of 2004)
Aston’s high ranking in The Financial Times table of MBA courses was a deciding factor when Jackie Zhuang was considering where to study. She had an excellent first degree in economics from Shanghai University and a diploma in International Trade & Business from Shanghai’s Sydney Institute of Language & Commerce, one of the most famous institutions in Asia.
Jackie explained: “I heard about Aston from The Financial Times and did some more research. I checked the course for my subject and discovered that what Aston offered was very up-to-date and applicable to what I wanted to do.
With such a positive feeling, Jackie set off for Aston in September 2003 for her MSc course. And Aston and the city of Birmingham lived up to her expectations. She said: “I was impressed first by the nice campus and the very kind teaching staff. The city of Birmingham is very cosmopolitan with rich and various cultures, foods, arts, music and lots more. So it was very easy for overseas students to become part of the community.” As this was Jackie’s first visit to the UK, this is quite a compliment to both Aston Business School and the city of Birmingham.
Jackie did find the course challenging. “It is a little intensive,” she said. “We had lots of homework, group discussions to take part in before and after formal classes but most work was done in teams. Different people from different countries with different values, viewpoints and cultures all came together. At first there were a few difficulties in communication and to get a common idea in a group, but actually when we all went through everything we all learnt a lot from every activity.
“Your communication skills, capability, logical thinking and organisational skills all greatly improved. It was tough, but really worthwhile.”
And Jackie was full of praise for the staff at Aston. She said: “They were very supportive, kind and approachable. If you had any questions or problems they would helped and advised.”
She particularly enjoyed the structure of the MSc programme. “I really enjoyed the course with its different types of teaching mode, such as case studies, study visits and group discussions. It seemed to give us lots of time to practise and I remember in the marketing course our group conducted a real case, not just an exercise. We allocated each group member different tasks such as designing a questionnaire, interviews, leading a focus group, analysing the data and writing the report.
“I also felt the course was well structured, very applicable and the step-by-step learning approach meant that it was easy to absorb all the things we were learning and being taught,” said Jackie.
It was not just the formal side of her year at Aston that was given a glowing recommendation. Jackie also revelled in the social life of Aston and the city of Birmingham. “We learnt together, we lived together and even cooked together. The MSc course provides lots of opportunities for students to be exposed to the cultures of fellow students and I made lots of good friends. We are still in touch and send each other regular greetings and updates on things that have happened in our lives such as new jobs, marriages, boyfriends, girlfriends, our plans for the future and of course we chat about our times at Aston.”
She is also certain that her Aston MSc boosted her career prospects. “There is no doubt about it. Due to the different courses on the MSc my career opportunities are bigger than ever. I got lots of job interviews after I came back home from Aston.
“I was particularly interested in the marketing aspect of the MSc and since then I have been working in the marketing departments in two different industries. The soft skills I learnt at Aston, such as communication, planning and coordination are widely used in my work now.”
She felt that her time at Aston made her think more broadly and comprehensively. “It provided me with more opportunities to think, learn and be exposed to a whole new set of experiences that have helped my career.”
Jackie, now works for the giant French-international company, Saint-Gobain, in China. She has a final thought for anyone considering where to study for an MSc: “If you choose Aston you will get more return. It’s a risk choosing any university, but I would say ‘Choose Aston, get more return’, I did.”
If you would like to read more MSc Alumni profiles, click here.