Category Archives: Post uni life

Attractive universities for businesses, with a touch of innovation

Have you heard of Universum’s rankings? This year, in Finland, Kone, Finnair, Google and Fazer rank first in terms of most attractive employers for corporate positions. For IT types, the ranking comes in a different shape and includes first Google, second Reaktor and third Supercell. Wait, you might think this has got nothing to do with education, attractive universities, and Study Advisory… But it does! In Finland like in the rest of the world, students get a higher education because, at the end of the day, they think these extra years after high school will land them a job close enough to their dream job.

attractive universities
Universum’s questions include the type of potential employer(s) you find most appealing or suited to your career goals and personality

While usually, at the end of high school, you might be too young to think of the company you would like to work at, you generally have a sense of what type of company or organisation would fit your values, or sell the sort of product you buy… And then, suddenly you turn 23, and if you are like the silent majority, you might regret not having known earlier where you absolutely wanted to (apply, and, hopefully) work. This suggests a missing link between the early stages of career planning and career starting.

In the meantime, the university you as a high school student are contemplating or you, university student, are attending might well be interesting to particular employers. Especially those surveyed for the French consultancy Emerging by the German firm Trendence. The tendency to start ranking universities not only for their academic strengths like publications, or mere employment ratios post graduation, but also with regards to actual attraction for a critical mass of global employers is worth noticing.

The latest Emerging-Trendence ranking, which surveyed almost 6000 employers in 20 countries of the world, presents a story rather diverging from the research focus. As Emerging explains the ranking only describes the ‘market’s viewpoint’, i.e. of recruitment and international specialists recruiting or managing a least 50 new young graduates per year, taken across major industries.

A German university in the top ten of higher education institutions’ employability ranking: TU Munich

Most top 10 finalists on the list are United States-based institutions, but not all. For instance, the Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München) ranks 8th, just above Princeton. If you are studying a whole degree in Korea, there are 5 universities you can go on an exchange to TU München. If you are from France, TU München is a university you can go to as an exchange from the prestigious (and well-ranked) Ecole Polytechnique, but also the Ecole des Mines de Nantes, and Aix-Marseille University. So there is no need to pay high fees to study at a top institution in terms of employability.

But what does ’employability’ mean? Of course it is, first, getting a job. At a multinational or an SME, or one that you create in your own brand-new start up, whatever… The crux of the matter lies elsewhere: in the soft skills you get at university are also very valuable. Soft skills can be languages, but they can also include adaptability, emotional intelligence, or being capable of presenting well the result of your research on any given project. Among Finnish universities, the University of Helsinki ranks 72th on the Emerging global employability ranking.

attractive universities

But universities are not only good for employers or future employees, they are also valuable for society, which can be measured through innovations, in turn measured by patents’ number, quality, reach, and impact. This is where another ranking can be described as influential: the Reuters innovation ranking of European universities, which relies on publications and patents data gathered by Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science.

Study Advisory’s partner university KU Leuven came first in 2016, followed by Imperial College London, Cambridge University (both in the United Kingdom), and the Swiss EPFL. The fifth most innovative university is perhaps well worth mentioning again (TU Munich), should one want to compile a personal ranking of valuable rankings… of the kind that would aggregate employability and innovation. Meanwhile, other Study Advisory’s partners are in the top 50 of innovative universities: Erasmus University Rotterdam and Vrije University of Brussels.

At the global level, the Reuters innovative university ranking shows an expected American dominance, but a little Asian surprise at the middle of the top 10, KAIST (profile of KAIST, Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology on Study Advisory). For Finnish or Finland-based students, KAIST is a potential exchange destination if you are enrolled at one of these two institutions: Helsinki Metropolia or Tampere University of Technology.

Yes, broadening your horizons can be as simple as an exchange…but, beyond that, innovation or career plans can stay at the back of your head, or maybe just the idea that you can factor in employability and innovation when choosing your university.

If you are interested in patents… as well as employability

Here is a table that gathers the top 15 European universities for employability and innovation:

Employability rankings (taken from Emerging Trendence world ranking) Innovation (retrieved from Reuters: Europe most innovative universities)
Cambridge University UK KU Leuven Belgium
Oxford UK Imperial College London UK
TU Munich Germany Cambridge University UK
Imperial College UK EPFL Lausanne Switzerland
HEC Paris France TU Munich Germany
Kings College London UK Erlangen University Nuremberg Germany
Manchester University UK Delft University of Technology Netherlands
IE University (Instituto de Empresa) Spain Oxford University UK
EM Lyon France University of Munich Germany
ETH Zurich Switzerland University of Zurich Switzerland
University of Munich Germany University of Copenhagen Denmark
University of Edinburgh Scotland, UK Technical university of Denmark Denmark
Ecole Normale Supérieure France ETH Zurich Switzerland
EPFL Switzerland Pierre et Marie Curie University Paris 6 France
Mines Paris Tech France Paris 11 Paris Sud France

At the end of the day, patents and publications of tomorrow’s graduates will differ from the 2016 rankings, but general trends last. University-business cooperation is strong in certain countries or at certain universities of applied sciences and this does not change year or year, it might rather depend on which European funding a group of researchers might secure for the coming years. Likewise, universities might help you find your job, but not to be successful at it.

attractive universities
Applications are not only about determination: an innovative approach will help, just like in the university world and to be good at any job in the long run.

Some universities think getting their graduates onto the job market means they have fulfilled their duty… But do graduates consistently satisfy employers, and do they satisfy them in the long run? According to the definition of employability given by surveyed employers in the Emerging study, there is a ‘professional know-how’ dimension that comes into play, in addition to the expertise required to get the position.

This is in line with what the vice-president for institutional advancement at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology told Times Higher Education: a university should help you make a good job after you have landed it. That is why being in contact with innovative researchers or conducting research for a company during your studies might be worthwhile. (In other words, do not focus solely on the first column of the table above!)

More information:

Universum’s ranking of most attractive employers in Finland

Emerging-Trendence: Global and German employability rankings

Reuters: world’s most innovative universities and Europe’s most innovative universities

Top 5 reasons why employers love applicants who have studied abroad

Why should the employers care about your study abroad experiences?

Are you planning to go to study abroad and wondering what kind of benefits it could bring you in the future? Or have you already studied abroad and are now thinking how to tell it to your potential future employers? We in the Study Advisory team are very familiar with these questions, since we have all been there and explained our employers why they should appreciate our experiences. Let us tell you our top 5 reasons why employers will love you when you tell them that you have studied abroad!

1. You are used to getting out of your comfort zone

All those friends of yours who have never stepped out of their home country sometimes think that studying abroad is just about partying hard and hitting the beach. Well, usually it’s not. It is a journey that will make you grow as a person. You have to do things that you have never done before, and sometimes, there is nobody there to help you out. Often you also have to manage those situations in a foreign language. It is also a way to take a look at your own study field from another perspective.

Studying abroad is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. This is a skill that is heavily needed also in today’s working life in the globalising world.

Intercultural communication are important for employers.

2. You are able to be flexible

When you have studied abroad, you have probably adapted to many new things. Maybe you had to deal with some bureaucratic officials, maybe you found a cockroach under your bed and had to sleep on a sofa. Thus, you have built an amazing amount of flexibility that is also needed in today’s working life. You have also realised and accepted that there are different ways to do things in different parts of the world.

In a job interview, for example, you can share a story or two about how flexible you can be in everyday situations. This will most likely convince the employers that you’ll be flexible in your new work, too.

3. You have great networks

You networks have probably exploded compared to your homies, who stayed in the comfort of their home country. You have new friends now, such as an engineering student from Brazil, a waitress from Spain, a landlord from Greece and a flatmate from China. In addition to the already existing networks, you can easily convince your future employers that you will be able to build new career-related networks in no time!

Make sure to keep those networks alive even after you come home. A day might come when you need your network also for some work-related stuff. Or maybe there is just a conference in your friend’s hometown and you want someone to show you around the city? Building these networks and keeping them up and running will totally be worth it – trust us!

4. Language skills

No matter whether you studied in English, learned just a few words of Spanish or are now completely fluent in Japanese, your future employer will surely appreciate it.

Language skills in the working life are not just about being grammatically correct, they are about having the courage to use languages in everyday life. Surely, if you have studied abroad, you already have what it takes to communicate in different languages. Make sure to highlight this courage also in your CV.

Sharing your stories in a new job is great.

5. Intercultural communication skills

It is not just about the language skills. In order to work efficiently in an international atmosphere you also have to handle communication with people from different cultures.

Studying abroad is probably one of the best ways to develop communication skills. You get more confidence with being around foreign people and you learn how to handle even the biggest of misunderstandings.

+ Great coffee room conversations

Who wouldn’t want to hear your awesome experiences about studying abroad? If you are working for an international company, the odds are good that your new colleagues have also studied abroad at some point. Those stories make for great conversations, and you will bond with your colleagues in a totally new way. If your boss appreciated your study abroad experiences already in the application process, there is a great chance that maybe they were also partying under the Italian sun as an Erasmus student just few years before you… Go and see!

So, here we have listed some tips about why future employers will appreciate your studies abroad. Study abroad experience is a great way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Just go for it – and remember to make it visible on your CV!