Sandra van der Linde is German, lives and works in Oxford, UK. She has been enrolled at the Austrian University of Applied Sciences Burgenland since June 2020 and is completing the master’s course in marketing communication in the English-language specialization “Cross-media Marketing Communication” at the eLearning Academy for Communication. We asked her for an interview to find out why she chose an English course despite being a native German speaker. She talks about the challenges of distance learning alongside a full-time job and how she networks with her fellow students despite being 1,000 km away.
Yes, I have always been very interested in other cultures. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Management and can already look back on a correspondingly broad range of international experience: Switzerland, China, the USA and the UK were my major stations.
A few years ago, professional opportunities brought me to Oxford – and I have since found a new home here. Since 2016, I have been working for the internationally active Siemens Healthineers AG, a listed manufacturer of medical technology. I am currently working from Oxford for the headquarters in Germany, I am a Project Procurement Manager and in my role I mediate between the purchasing departments in the different countries and the project business with our customers.
Yes, the countdown is on. I have firmly resolved to submit my master’s thesis by April and then to hold my defensio in June (note: defense of the master’s thesis and final exam). Then I will have completed my studies within two years.
(laughs) Thank you very much. That’s a good question. It definitely takes a lot of self-motivation, discipline and proactivity. I’m passionate about effective communication, like to actively shape new developments and work on ongoing improvements.
Previously, I had considered studying at a university in Oxford with my employer, but would have had to be released several times a week during working hours for classroom lectures there. However, I wanted to remain independent and study flexibly – and also really choose a specialization that interested me and that I enjoyed. But because I would have had to commute to London or Germany for the exams with other providers, I opted for this 100% distance learning program.
In my work environment, there is always the realization that problems could have been avoided by one thing: Better communication. I was also interested in learning more about the targeted use of digital media, so the decision to take this course was an obvious one. I didn’t want to do a pure marketing degree, but the special mix of PR, marketing and communication appealed to me. I think you can use this knowledge in any area and in any company, not just in a marketing department. So I can use my acquired know-how in many different ways in the future – and that’s a very big advantage!
With this online Master’s degree program, you don’t have any lectures and can organize yourself well. For me, this works very well, even though I know from my own experience that it is not always easy to find time and self-motivation.
In the beginning, I always studied two hours before work, but with the job change and the time difference, it wasn’t so easy anymore. Now I study more in the evenings and on weekends.
I think if you are good at planning and place a lot of value on flexibility, then this study program is definitely the right one. At first I had a lot of respect for this decision, and it’s not without its difficulties, but now I know it’s doable and manageable.
It’s important to proactively seek help when you need it, whether it’s with scheduling or something else. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone from your private environment or the student advisory service – you study flexibly, but not alone.
So I would also recommend getting involved in the Facebook and WhatsApp groups if possible. When I started studying, it even occurred to me at one point, “Am I the only one studying this?” I was in my little bubble and there was little mandatory interaction. Now there is much more interaction with my fellow students and we help each other out when someone gets stuck.
You can ask questions and exchange experiences. For example, if you are faced with a difficult module assignment, you can get good food for thought from your fellow students. Sometimes it helps just to exchange ideas about the structure.
In addition, there are also voluntary webinars with the lecturers, and through such webinars I sometimes exchange ideas privately with students whom I now know a little better. But everyone is also free to discuss particularly interesting ideas or theories with the other students via Facebook or Whatsapp.
I was very enthusiastic about the module on storytelling. I even took another online course on the topic afterwards to deepen my knowledge and improve the practical implementation. It is fascinating to see how we can move and inspire people with the right communication. I also found crisis management, almost as a counterpoint, super interesting. Crisis situations can arise unexpectedly at any time. To be better prepared for them and to be able to relax the situation again with a calm head is an invaluable skill in my eyes.
The creation of a communication concept with Ms. Hansen was really great. In this module there was a lot of exchange with the lecturer and with other students and I found it very exciting that everyone did something different. This also showed me how diverse these theories and models are applicable. I took the module after a little more than half of the study time and could clearly see in it what I had actually already learned and how I had developed.
Do you live and work abroad and would like to complete your Master’s degree in English at a renowned Austrian university? The online master’s program in marketing communication at the FH Burgenland at the eLearning Academy makes it possible!
You study 100% online – independent of time and location. There are no attendance phases, deadlines or exam dates. You decide when and where you study, write module assignments or take exams. With us you study at the pulse of time.
You can find more information about the Master’s degree program here. Or register directly for the next online info-event. In addition to a virtual tour of the online campus, we will show you how easy it is to study online. Secure your place now! We are looking forward to meeting you!
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Prof. Dr. Walter Reicher was the director of the Haydn Festival in Burgenland for over 30 years and has been passing on his knowledge and experience to students at universities and academies for many years. At the eLearning Academy he leads the module "Basics of Marketing". In the interview, he tells us where his enthusiasm for marketing comes from, what students can expect in the module and in the module work, and how teaching has changed over time.
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