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"You shouldn't underestimate yourself"

MSc Management with International Business graduate, Bart Van Egdom, fulfilled his ambition of studying for a master's during a challenging time in his life. This is his story.

Bart wearing a graduation cap and gown, stoody by a window and smiling


It was always my ambition to do a masters: I think in big corporate companies, if you really want to grow and go further in your career, it's important to have a master's or MBA.

Feeling empowered

I work in feasibility in corporate finance for a hotel company, producing financial statements and deal valuations about future plans to build or refurbish hotels, and I didn't want to stop doing that. When I saw Birkbeck offered part time courses in the evenings that meant I could keep my full-time job, I felt empowered to just do it. My employer encouraged me by being flexible and supportive, though I always made sure I could focus on my job as well as studying.

Staying motivated

There were a lot of significant life changes over the two years I studied: Covid, working full-time, getting married, having a baby, moving house. It required a lot of discipline. But the enjoyment of what I was studying helped motivate me. I liked being able to directly apply the things I learned from my course to what I was doing at work. This, together with the immense support from family and friends, kept me focused and on track.

The rewards

I do a bit of report writing for my job. Writing essays and getting feedback from Birkbeck's writing support schemes - like Studiosity - helped with this side of my work. I've never been a good writer, and often struggled with lengthy pieces. Now I quite enjoy it. I like using the knowledge I picked up through studying, to find good structure and flow to my writing, for example. I also really enjoy having a better understanding of the things that impact the industry I work in, such as economic or marketing theory. It all adds up.

I benefited from the diversity of my fellow students. You're learning alongside people who come from different countries and who work in different industries. It's a great way to learn from others. Much of my class time was virtual because of the pandemic, but the interactions with my classmates who offered different perspectives and experiences were still very valuable.

A word of advice

It's important that you are interested in what you study and enjoy it, then the drive comes automatically. You shouldn't underestimate yourself. Everybody can do a masters if you work hard and are disciplined. It can be loads of fun, so just go for it.

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