How studying in Ireland helped a Master’s student unlock new opportunities
Despite completing her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Universidade de Ribeirão Preto and Master of Business Administration in Controllership and Finance (MBA) from Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado in Brazil, and having several years of management experience under her belt, Amanda Lisbôa Rodrigues was not fully satisfied with her career growth.
Originally from Brazil, Amanda’s credentials were earned in Portuguese, and she could only speak limited English. In just a few years after living in Ireland, Amanda drastically increased her English fluency and recently graduated with her Master’s in International Entrepreneurship Management from the University of Limerick.
The journey wasn’t easy at first. When Amanda first arrived in Ireland, she landed a job in Finance at a small company called 31 Chapel Lane, a designer label that specialises in fresh linen and wool clothing. Although she had the finance and business acumen, she had limited ability to converse with her peers and speak about her accomplishments.
While working, she also took an English course to improve her skills and gain the proficiency needed to take her studies further.
Amanda told U2B in a Zoom interview, “When I was working in Brazil, I felt I could not rise higher as the only higher post was being the owner of the company. I knew I had the skills and experience to grow higher in my career in a multinational company but the one thing lacking was my English fluency. I am fluent in Portuguese and Spanish but I felt that to reach new heights in my career, I must master the English language.”
After her English course, Amanda decided to take a chance and apply for her Master’s degree in International Entrepreneurship Management at the University of Limerick in Ireland. She also applied for a Master’s programme in Portgual, and successfully gained acceptance, but she chose to study at the University of Limerick instead as it is a fully English-taught programme.
She said, “I came here in 2017 and found that Ireland is very welcoming to foreigners. I love this country and I wanted to continue studying and possibly working here after graduation. I wanted to do my Masters here because if I do end up going back to Brazil, I can gain employment in well-paid positions with an English-taught degree. There is no doubt in my mind how important it is to speak English, especially the terms you need to know in the business world and how speaking the language helps you make valuable business connections. Therefore, I was really happy to get accepted into the Master’s programme at the University of Limerick.”
Receiving the acceptance letter was only half the battle won, as she still needed to improve her English skills. She had passed the English proficiency test to get into the programme, but she still struggled to understand her peers and faculty members.
However, learning English in an English-speaking country proved much easier for her to quickly improve her grammar and language skills.
She said, “I have tried to learn English in other schools but when you don’t have people to converse with, you won’t improve fast. You can learn the grammar and learn how to write but you need to speak with English native speakers in order to really pick up the language. It’s much better as you’ll have the chance to see where you have mistakes and language gaps.”
What really helped Amanda to improve her English speaking skills was the several presentations that Master’s students are expected to complete during their programme and her helpful peers.
“I passed the English proficiency test but I was still not familiar with business words and terms. After many presentations, I significantly improved my English. They speak very fast so I really had to keep up which forced me to quickly improve. Any words I didn’t understand, I would ask my peers and friends. You can’t always rely on translations as they may not be accurate so it’s much better to ask when you don’t understand. I am thankful that I had very helpful peers. We were a small group of 11 students from 8 different countries.”
How a Master’s in Entrepreneurship degree prepares you for varied roles
With a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship, you don’t necessarily need to become an entrepreneur. Armed with this specialist knowledge, you can work in a wide range of roles.
Amanda shared why she chose to study this field. “Usually international students study International Business or do a more broad course like the MBA. However, I have always loved and been interested in Entrepreneurship and wanted to study more about this field with a Master’s degree. I love the energy and passion of entrepreneurs as they really believe in their business.
The one thing that the director of my course always said is that you don’t have to be an Entrepreneur with this degree but you can help others who don’t have this type of knowledge. They may have great business ideas but they don’t know how to get funding, how to manage people, how to market their business and so on. With all that I’ve learned, I can work as a consultant or in incubators helping entrepreneurs get their companies up and running.
How did her degree prepare her for her new career direction? Amanda said she now has all the tools and knowledge needed, thanks to the practical learning elements of the course.
“The kind of information that they give us is so important as they are based on real-world contexts. We work on real cases and help real companies. One project that we did really stood out to me. My group was chosen to work with a company that is bringing a new product to the global market. We had to come up with a business plan and it was a little scary to be trusted with such a huge responsibility, but such a good experience.
She said she has also developed skills that are valuable not only professionally, but personally. “I learned how important is to present yourself well, and how to be an innovative person in all aspects. You should know how to create new things in your daily lives, no just at work. These are the types of skills and entrepreneurial mindset I gained.”
Amanda has now graduated as is looking forward to new opportunities in entrepreneurship, having gained newfound confidence thanks to her English fluency and skills learned while studying in Ireland.