QTEM experiences from our Economics & Business students
My name is Tim Parée and I am 23 years old. I did my bachelor in Economics and Business at the University of Amsterdam. During my bachelor I went on an Erasmus exchange to Budapest. In 2016 I started my master in Real Estate Finance at the University of Amsterdam. During my Master I found out that I fulfilled all the requirements for participating in the QTEM master program. I did not want any more delay of my studies, unless it was clearly beneficial for my future career. In case of the QTEM program the latter one occurred. I spend my semester abroad at the Xiamen University in China and currently I am doing an internship at the real estate department of KPMG. I think the QTEM program provides a great opportunity of unique experiences abroad and some professional experiences in a single year. I have been able to improve my quantitative skillset which is increasingly important in today’s business environment. What makes the QTEM particularly great is the possibility to obtain some theoretical knowledge during the first half year and subsequently apply this knowledge in a professional environments. I think it is important to emphasize that the QTEM organization operates mainly as a platform by connecting the students with universities and companies. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to fulfill the administrational requirements for both your application at the university abroad and an internship.
So, I went for my semester abroad to the Xiamen University in Xiamen, China. In my opinion, the major profit of a semester abroad is dealing with cultural differences and meeting new people with a different view. This enables you to see things from different perspectives and therefore to make better considered decisions during the rest of your life. To maximize this experience I wanted to visit a country with a completely different culture than the Dutch one. Looking back this was definitely the case in China and I even got more than where I was hoping for. My first weeks were the hard sometimes since the supervision at the university was limited and barely any Chinese person in Xiamen speaks English. Moreover, it took some time to get adjusted to the three Chinese students I was sharing a room of 15 square meters with.
In my class I was the only Western and the only exchange student. My classmates were from China, Africa and other Asian countries and were finishing their master. Xiamen University is one of the elite universities of China and therefore only the best scholars can apply. Because of the Elite status the university has plenty of funds resulting in a breath taking campus with amazing facilities. The campus attracts a lot of domestic tourists, whom love to go on a picture with a pale Western person. It can be hard to not feel like you are special when people are standing in a line to go on a picture with you. The level of education depends heavily on the level of the professor teaching, since they have a lot of freedom in composing their curriculum. The student life in China is much more disciplined and structured than the Netherlands. In general, I would say the quality of education is lower than the UvA, but the workload is much higher. I decided to study hard during the weekdays so I could travel during the weekends. Though the first weeks were quite rough I have had an amazing semester and I have learned more about myself and life than in my other twenty-two years.
Moving from your student life to your professional life can be a big step and an internship can function as a bridge between them. The QTEM platform offers several internships, but I was looking for an internship closer related to my field of study than the ones offered. Besides that, most of the internships offered are outside the Netherlands and I found half a year in China enough adventure for a while. I applied at several firms and eventually decided to join the forces of KPMG temporarily. My job consists mainly of assessing real estate valuations for the audit department and assisting with real estate consultancy engagements. An internship can provide the opportunity to find out whether a function or sector fit you. With the current booming economy there are many job options for starters on the labor market, which can make it hard to decide what direction one wants to go to. This internship helps me to try out various functions. Besides that I am working in a highly challenging business climate surrounded with bright and intelligent people which helps me to develop my professional skills in a practical way. For example, I improved my working efficiency and saved a lot of time by learning many keyboard shortcuts.
Tim Parée, QTEM student at The University of Amsterdam (UvA).