About you

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hey everyone, my name is Cathleen, I recently turned 24 and I am currently doing my MSc International Management and Leadership at QMU.

Prior to coming to QMU, I finished my bi-national Bachelor's degree: Public Governance Across Borders at the University of Twente, Enschede and Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster (in Germany).

After completing my A-Levels, I started working as a flight attendant for the German carrier Lufthansa, the country's biggest and best-known airline which fostered my interest in other cultures, languages and countries.

Why did you choose to study at QMU and what attracted you to the course?

Having studied most of my Bachelor's in English, my interest in continuing my studies in a country where English was the mother-tongue grew. I also wanted to challenge myself by staying in new surroundings.

QMU's MSc International Management and Leadership represented a Master's programme that combined the areas of strategy, leadership and other insights into Human Resources and Management topics in a way that really appealed to me. Furthermore, I wanted the chance to do a practical project at the end of the programme which would greatly enhance my career entry opportunities.

Why did you choose to study in Edinburgh?

The English and Scottish education systems are known for their effectiveness through supervised learning in intervals and their approach of ensuring lecturers and teaching staff are closely connected with students.

I personally had never been to Scotland before I started studying at QMU, but Edinburgh is a very special city, uniting old history and a vibrant student atmosphere with all its pubs, museums and Portobello Beach.

The Course

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been your highlight?

I personally enjoyed the topics covered, being able to give feedback and I enjoyed my relationship with the coordinators. The course pushed us to really learn and engage in critical discussion. I grew by being challenged and observing how the learning process was helping me improve. I could see myself becoming more used to certain standards and expectations on myself through the process.

Because QMU is relatively small compared to other universities, the connection with your classmates is quite strong and supportive, it became even more so when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Has there been a particular course activity you found especially interesting? How have your lecturers supported your learning?

Our teachers made sure we dealt with recent topics in our assessments and used current and relevant case studies, which clearly showed us how to apply our theory and usage in a real business context.

What makes Queen Margaret University interesting is the personal and individual learning environment and the exchanges with tutors, lecturers and teachers. I perceived the interaction as extremely flexible and available, there is always the possibility to talk to someone and set up a one-to-one meeting, over coffee or online.

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

Initially, I had planned to start in September 2019 but then decided to postpone my start until January 2020 to give me more time to plan my move to the UK. During the first semester, someone in my family received a severe illness diagnosis. Being in a different country when COVID-19 hit was a major challenge. Our program was about to go into the assessment period, and between my personal struggles to fly home and trying to figure out how to best accomplish my assessment work the University offered to get in touch with various contacts and the university's Wellbeing Service.

It is normal to feel stressed out, feel under pressure or not up to the challenge but it is very important to speak up about your problems and address them early on because the staff here are always willing to help.

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Familiarise yourself with the course modules and where you plan to head afterwards. This might sound extremely cheesy but it is true.  To succeed in your academic career being interested in the course topic is necessary, so that you can critically examine them and motivate yourself to study long hours.

Do not hesitate to contact QMU and course representatives, it helps to ask questions and lay out your expectations and see whether the programme is a fit for you.

If applicable, what University services have you used to support you through your university journey and how have they helped you?

I made use of talking to lecturers on a one-to-one basis to help me figure out my path and see where my own potential could be developed and what direction might fit me best with my Master's project.

Student Services are really useful - they offer a range of assistance, for example for effective learning like proof-reading or tips on how to write essays and reports. You can also join different sessions on career planning and employability, for example using LinkedIn for possible employment.

Life as a Student at QMU

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

I must say that with COVID-19 it was quite hard or almost impossible to make the most of the student life - for example joining others for a drink a Maggie’s (the Campus pub), etc.

What I would advise others to do, if the circumstances lighten, is to engage with your classmates, explore the campus and make yourself familiar with the city. Of course, it is about your academic progress as well but enjoy yourself and there will definitely be students who are not from Edinburgh who will happily join you.

Furthermore, there are numerous clubs and societies at QMU that you can join to meet other people, that will shape your student life at QMU.

What has been the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned at university?

I did learn that if I am interested in and committed to a topic, I am willing to put much more effort into it and think it through, which was reflected in my grades as well. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and not bad at all, on the contrary, it enhances your development and personal improvement. It is quite hard to understand that simply by going through the student process you will grow and be able to conquer academic challenges.

Also, do not let yourself get too down by feeling stressed, others are struggling as well and once you reach out, you will find support.

What are you plans after graduation? Tell us about your ambitions and where you see yourself in the future?

Talking about your future is always tricky but following on from the Business Consultancy in Practice module there might be a job opportunity opening up for me in the aviation sector which would be ideal based on my work experience.

Other options are going into consultancy, joining a traineeship or actually applying for a PhD.

"I personally enjoyed the topics covered, being able to give feedback and I enjoyed my relationship with the coordinators. The course pushed us to really learn and engage in critical discussion. I grew by being challenged and observing how the learning process was helping me improve."
Cathleen Geisler

[Story published in 2020]