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"Studying gave me clarity and renewed confidence about my career path"

Yuan Yao is an international student who decided to study a Master’s in Management with International Business to bolster her career. This is her story.

Yuan smiles at the camera. Behind her is foliage from an indoor plant and a window with a view of the street outside.

Seeking a new path

I studied chemical engineering at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and started working in investment banking in China immediately after. I worked in this field for ten years, but often felt directionless and held back. Feeling lost, hoping to discover a new career path for myself, I decided to study MSc Management with International Business at Birkbeck.

Reinvigorating the old path

The course was fascinating and enjoyable, and I drew particular inspiration from one of the tutors who was leading the modules focusing on accounting and finance – the very areas I thought I wanted to leave behind! I found their teaching so knowledgeable and inspiring, that I realised I didn't want to leave the world of finance behind after all. The lack of direction I'd felt in my career hadn't been because I was on the wrong path, but because I didn't have enough knowledge about the professional landscape or the social science behind it, which impacted my ability to know or decide what to do next. It explained all my issues with lack of confidence or certainty that I'd experienced in the last ten years of my working life. Studying at Birkbeck was the perfect solution - it provided me with useful, in-depth knowledge about both my field and related ones, and gave me clarity and renewed confidence.

When flexibility meets excellence

I was drawn to Birkbeck not only because of the convenience of being able to work and study in the evening, but also because of its excellent reputation and the diverse student body. Birkbeck is unique in having students who range from 18 to 80 years old, and having already studied and worked for ten years I knew this would be a very enriching environment to learn in. When I started studying it was during the height of the pandemic, and it was incredible to see the determination and positivity of both my teachers and fellow classmates. Both during and long after the pandemic everyone came together and encouraged each other so much. As classmates, if one of us was struggling with our dissertation we'd go out for drinks to discuss it. And all the while, the lecturers were so supportive and inspiring. I felt so full of confidence from the quality of the teaching and the encouragement they provided every step of the way.

London is the perfect place to study

I studied both my previous degrees in London, and I'm glad I chose it again for this degree. It's a vibrant city full of life, and there's as much to learn from the city as there is from your teachers and classmates. It's a city that can teach you about different cultures, different periods of history and the different ways people experience life.

Moving forward with confidence

Since realising that accounting and finance are indeed the right paths for me, I've become excited about the future again. I'm now undertaking the Associate Chartered Certified Accountant qualifications, and am looking forward to finishing them so I can progress even further in my field. It's incredible to think that before this degree I felt so directionless, and now I feel so certain and focused. It goes to show the value that education can add to your life – my experience, perspective and ambition was limited before studying at Birkbeck, and now everything feels richer and more possible.

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