The curious case of Marc Chapman

Mon, 1 Oct 2018 | International, Wirtschaftsingenieurwesen, Campusleben
Advantages of having a career before studying

written by Marc Chapman, international student from Canada

Unlike  most  students,  I  have  just  entered  my  40’s  and  am in the middle of my undergraduate studies. And no, I haven’t been studying for ages, I have had a considera-ble career “out there” with many dif-ferent experiences. But for now, those of you who remember the movie “The curious  case  of  Benjamin  Button”:  It  feels  a  bit  like  Benjamin,  where  he  grew  young  instead  of  old.  That  is  how  I  feel  right  now,  like  I’m  getting  younger while sitting in lectures with 18 to 20-year-olds. I will probably not go  back  to  school  afterwards  but  fo-cus  on  a  new  career  with  a  different  focus.  However,  there  are  obvious-ly  more  differences.  Let’s  focus  on  some  of  those  aspects,  which  make  my   “going-backwards-career”   quite   enlightening.

I’m  a  third  semester  student  in  the  IBE   programme   here   in   Schwein-furt and my name is Marc Chapman. I  was  born  and  raised  in  Canada  and  then  in  my  ear-ly  20’s  relocated  to  the  UK  where  I  lived  for  the  most  part  in  the  London  area  for  over  16  years.  Having  met  my  German  wife  back  in  2010,  we  moved  to  Bamberg  in 2015 along with our first child of now two daughters. Whilst  in  the  UK  I  worked  in  Highway  Engineering  and  Consulting  with  varying  employers  from  multinational  consultants  to  local  government  authorities  to  small  family-run businesses. I had the pleasure of working on major projects such as the Channel Tunnel Rail link im-provements and for a long time in Central London on a multitude of small and large projects.

Going  in  reverse  has  provided  one  priceless  trait  that  I  have  found  greatly  advantageous,  and  that  trait  is  Life  Experience.  Whilst  my  fellow  colleagues  are  often  as-king why do we need to know this or how could that be applied, I am often able to make essential links between academia and practical use.

For instance, why would an engineer or manager need to  understand  accounting  practices?  Well,  the  know-ledge of accounting practices would assist in the role as a  project  manager,  whilst  reviewing  budgets  and  mee-ting with finance departments. It even helps in your pri-vate  life  in  managing  expenses  and  understanding  the  present value of your savings.

Instead of being at the back of class, I now sit in the front and  see  the  advantage  of  engaging  with  the  professor  regarding  the  topic  at  hand.  In  life,  you  learn  that  you  need  to  challenge  theories  and  ideas  and   you   gain   the   confidence   to   do   so.  My  work  experience  has  required  me  to  interact  a  great  range  of  peop-le,  from  Lords  of  England  to  CEO’s  of  multinational organisations and every-one  below  and  between.  These  inter-actions require you to set out, and pre-sent  yourself  in  a  knowledgeable  and  concise   manner.   These   skills   make   presensations  less  frightening,  suc-cessfully  steer  projects  in  the  correct  direction  or  even  make  the  writing  of  exams just another task.

Even though there are many situations where  I  feel  my  experience  helps  me  comprehend  the  topics,  I  also  get  se-veral eureka moments or at least, the moments   which   in   the   past,   would   have been a lot easier/clearer if I had known that. This occurs more often in my business courses where lear-ning  about  the  overall  business  process  whilst  using  ERP software for instance helps connects the dots bet-ween  varying  departments  in  a  massive  construction  company. 

Furthermore,  my  lectures  in  International  Trade  Law  and  International  Accounting  also  gave  clarity  on  the  contractual relationships between parties I worked with and  some  of  the  financial  decisions  and  investments  that were made by the leaders in my organisations.

All of these events paint a good picture of how really the studies at FHWS IBE are so well entwined with real life and practical situations. However, to see these relation-ships are maybe not always clear to some students who may lack the real-life situation or experiences to com-pare to. Then once you have graduated, you are spending so much time climbing the professional ladder and wor-rying about paying the bills and raising a family that you don’t  really  get  to  reflect  back  to  what  you  had  learned.  This is when I at least, appreciate those bizarre situations where  your  professor  is  trying  to  explain  something  in  class and is there to help us be successful in life.