Friday, 29 November 2013

Being a Mature Student - Trials and Tribulations, by Niki Cutts

As an international trader, Niki Cutts thinks that having a ropy understanding of international law can have its disadvantages.  It was suggested to me (by a lawyer) that I spend two years in Vienna (part-time) studying for a Masters in International Law.

It took almost two years to be able to start the course, as the part-time course is only run every two years. So when I was accepted and the course started, I already knew I would be starting my own business a few months later. I hesitated to start the course, but eventually took the plunge, encouraged by a management consultant who I know.

With no law background, I was at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the other students. My only “piece de resistance” was that I was the sole native English speaker, and as the course was taught in English, at least I had the edge here.

Travelling to Vienna every two weeks would have been comfortable on a bullet train, but alas, the Czechs need a great big dollop of Europe’s structural funds to be rid of their “chuggers”. At least though, the five hours each way gave me time to drain the brains of my super smart Czech classmates, without whom I would have surely failed the course.

Time away from the new business and my small kids wasn’t always easy. I seemed to be the only working mum with kids that travelled. I just don’t think that women with kids would generally take on such a commitment. All weekends with taken up with studying. In fact I would go to sleep reading law, then wake up and immediately pick up the book.

However, eventually after the two years, I passed the course. I am no way an expert, but the course has really helped me in business through increased knowledge and credibility. Learning is life long, it is often hard, but can be fun. You develop new professional networks and new friends. Even with chaotic lives, finding space to develop personally is a luxury we should insist on.

Niki Cutts has trading companies in Prague, a small property portfolio, as well as two kids. Juggling professional and work life can be challenging but possible.