Despite the signs of economic recovery across much of Europe and the US, the job market is still not in the robust shape that it was before the economic crisis. This is leading many students to re-evaluate their options post-graduation.
It is often commented upon that while the bright young sparks of the US turn to business, post-graduates in Europe often opt for further study abroad. Combining both could be the smartest option.
Study and work in Berlin
Moving abroad to study has increased during the recession, and with the EU’s open borders this is incredibly simple for many EU students and post-graduates. With the economic crash blighting much of Southern Europe, many of the continent’s ambitious youth have headed to Germany which has weathered the economic storm better than most. The cheap living costs and vibrant reputation of Berlin has made it the most popular destinations in the country.
A generation after the fall of the wall, Berlin still holds onto its edgy character and is free of the pretention and grandeur of cities such as Paris and London. As well an established collection of galleries and museums such as Altes Museum, Bode Museum and Museum fürGegenwart, the city also offers the edgy underground art scene in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain.
There are four principle universities in Berlin, in addition to eight colleges, three art schools and eighteen private higher education institutions. FreieUniversität, HU, and TechnischeUniversität each ranked well in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings, at positions 109, 126 and 183 respectively. Like most top universities in Europe these institutions offer a wide selection of courses in English.
The burgeoning startup scene is another attraction to Berlin, offering students the chance to supplement their studies with an internship. Berlin rivals London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ as Europe’s top startup location, boasting companies like Blacklane Limousines, once just another startup with a dream, now dominating the limousine chauffeur service across the globe.
Though not always highly paid, internships with these startups imbue students with experience in a chosen field, and open up the possibility of further employment in the future. It also means that you can experience and view the city from a perspective other than that of a student.
Study and work in the United States
The US however remains the most popular destination for students studying abroad, with over 30% of all international students in the world attending colleges there. Though the tuition fees are some of the highest in the world, what students can expect to find in US colleges is a commitment to excellence. The high student fees allow these institutions to provide some of the best facilities in the world and hire leaders of industry and academia to research and teach there.
Like most universities in Europe (not including those in the UK), the quarterly / semester system in the US allows a greater flexibility in determining the pace a student completes their course. Often modules run more than once a year, allowing students to drop and restart a module if necessary. Students in the US also have a greater choice of what they can study, often irrespective of their major. This lies in contrast to the relatively restricted system in the UK.
In addition to this, US colleges often place an emphasis on work and study, helping students find employment on and off campus to complement their course. In terms of internships with startups, the US is still the most fertile country for supporting and boosting young companies. The American Dream has been reasserted in recent years with the phenomenal success of tech startups such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. Though, of course, studying in the US doesn’t guarantee working with these specific companies, you will be in the best place to get involved in the Next Big Things.
More than anything else, studying abroad – whether in Europe, the States, or elsewhere – opens your mind to a different culture, and exposes you to different people with their own beliefs and ideas. As much as books in the library and scribbling 'till dawn, the education you will receive from the people you are surrounded by, is as important as any other you will receive in Higher Education.