Our ‘A Day in the Life’ series highlights alumni in various fields and positions, offering a glimpse of what life after graduation is like. This post comes to us from M&T alumna Julia, currently in graduate school in Paris.
Please briefly outline the school you attend and the program of study you are enrolled in:
University Paris-Dauphine is a school of management in Paris, France that specializes in fields ranging from finance to sustainable development. I chose this latter path, and am part of a two-year’s master’s degree program where I have the opportunity to learn about applications of sustainable development in diverse areas such as economics, accounting, and international law. During the second year, students specialize in a particular domain (carbon emissions management, for example) and we are all going to spend either half or all of next year at a university abroad as part of an exchange.
What time did you get up this morning for classes?
It varies by day, but it’s generally between 6:50 and 8:30 in the morning.
What time did you start the day working, and what time were you done for the day?
Classes start as early as 8:30 am here and go as late as 8:30 pm. The French university system is different than that in the US in that all courses last over 3 hours. I never thought I would be able to sustain my attention span for that long, but it’s actually allows you to reach a deeper understanding of the material than in shorter sessions.
What classes did you go to today?
Environmental Economics, where we learn about the effects of fun policies like subsidies and taxes on the environment; Gender and Development, a sociology class where we learn about how inequalities have influenced the kind of development we have today and how we need to reduce these inequalities to ensure development in the long-term; and Green Accounting, which introduces a new approach to accounting where we aim to conserve financial, natural, and human capital in development.
What were some of the papers/projects/assignments you worked on today?
I’m currently writing this post in lieu of a report on the 2006 Disney-Pixar acquisition!
What’s your favorite class this term?
I really enjoyed environmental economics since it put numbers on a lot of “green” practices, like managing carbon emissions, and taught us how seemingly helpful programs like those for subsidies can be more harmful than helpful if not properly implemented.
Who specifically did you interact with today, besides fellow students (professors, an employer, researchers, etc.)?
Our master is rather tight-knit within the Dauphine community, similar to that of M&T, and they threw us a wonderful reception to celebrate the last of our exams today. Our professors and program director showed up and we had the opportunity to chat with them over delicious hors d’oeuvres!
What was your favorite part of the day?
As nerdy as it sounds, I love going to classes here! I have really found my passion and I look forward to learning how to realistically apply sustainable development. I also give English courses in my spare time, and it’s really fulfilling to speak with natives and learn more about French culture while helping others learn about mine.
What are some of the challenges of your degree program that you enjoy?
One, it’s partially in French, so I have to be on top of my game in order to follow those classes. There is also a social responsibility component of the master which incorporates theoretical sociology, a subject with which I’m not too familiar. What I really love though, is that through this master, I am able to see the larger applications of sustainability – that “being green” is more than recycling coke cans or using more solar energy.
How did you end up at your current school?
My goal is to live and work abroad for a few years as a consultant in carbon emissions management or as an extra-financial analyst, and Europe is more advanced in both of these fields with respects to the educational opportunities and the jobs available. I took French in high school and have always had a part-time love affair with the language and culture so I knew this was the perfect place to go. Having a French degree will give me a competitive edge in the job search here a couple of years down the line, so I decided to pursue a master earlier than I had originally planned to. Surprisingly enough, though, I first came over here as an English teacher through a teaching program I learned about while at Penn. It was this experience that ultimately solidified my decision to pursue the first part of my career here. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, even though it wasn’t the most conventional M&T route after graduation!
How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
The dual nature of the M&T program really helped me realize that I can integrate the two in my career…there’s nothing better than mixing the best of both worlds! Additionally, M&T gave us the opportunity to learn from brilliant minds and entrepreneurs who taught me, in an indirect way, that it’s okay if you don’t take the classic career path- as long as you let your passion and hard work lead you in what you do, you’ll end up doing great things. That mentality has been a huge driver in the decisions I have made since graduation, including moving overseas and running my first marathon!
Your M&T connections will be there for you long after you get those degrees- and I got my first overseas internship through an M&T alumnus, and Jaime and other administrators were a huge help with my grad school applications. I look forward to someday being able to “pay it forward” and help others like I was helped.
What advice do you have for those who might be interested in pursuing a similar path?
Do your research, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and above all, follow your instincts. Not everyone is cut from the same mold, and just because the rigorous M&T curriculum doesn’t always allow for an abroad experience doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen on your own! I have always loved management, technology, and international affairs, and now I’m living the M&T/Huntsman dream and integrating it all.
Julia just finished her first semester at University Paris-Dauphine. She graduated from M&T in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Systems Science Engineering from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School with concentrations in Operations and Information Management and Marketing. In her spare time she loves reading, running, singing in a classical music choir in Paris, and teaching English. She loves living in Western Europe but hopes to travel to Brazil and Asia in the next few years.