With a major in economic history and an economic background from his home country, Kirgistian, Baizhanysh has now taken a master in finance. I met with him one afternoon this fall in AF-Borgen’s café Athen to hear his reflection about BIDS.
C: Please give a brief introduction about yourself.
B: “My name is Baizhanysh – yes, not one teacher could spell my name correctly! I come from Kirgistan in Central Asia and started BIDS back in 2010. I was studying economics back home in my country, and was planning on taking my master in Sweden because my cousin recommended it. At that time, it was free for non-EU-citizens, but in 2009 we heard that this would come to an end and thus I applied to different bachelor programs at universities in Sweden. Lund was my first priority and I chose BIDS because the name was catchy. Now it is rare you see people from non-EU countries, but in my batch we were so many!”
C: What did you do after BIDS and what are you doing now?
B: “I defended my thesis in the late-autumn of 2013 (postponed it a bit) and since I really liked it here, I decided to stay. Here in Sweden, there is another pace of life and better opportunities compared to my home country, and even though I do want to go back one day, I want to gain more experience so that I can contribute to make my own country better. In 2014, I started a job in export sales in Malmö, and in 2015 I took a 1-year master’s degree in finance, also at Lund University.”
C: How did you specify during the BIDS-program?
B: “The most exciting year was the first one, everything was so new for me – so many people to learn from. During the 2nd year, we met much less because we were all scattered around in our majors and on exchange. I took my major in economic history and in the 4th semester some different online courses. In the 3rd year, I chose to carry out a literature review, which prepared me to work with big literature for my thesis. Which by the way was a comparative study on the demographic situation in Singapore and Japan.”
C: What did you find useful from the BIDS-program? Did you find something to be particularly important for later activities?
B: “The most useful was that it was a platform for me to get to know Swedish education system. And to learn about the difference between my major and what I used to study at home (economics). Here, I found a huge difference. In my economics degree back home focused on firms and micro/macro economics and economic history here at Lund offered me the bigger perspective. The advantage is to have had both!”
C: What 3 skills did you get from BIDS?
B: “I would say…
- Processing information in an adequate way: Since we were presented with a lot of contradictions in literature (local vs. company), we had to learn how to operate through all of this. It is not about who is in charge of what happened, but learn to get an overview of what is actually happening;
- Research tools: Studying is always a research tool. Learning to apply research methods to all the overwhelming literature, for example by looking for key words and keeping a focus;
- Being active: Move on with further studies and not give in to being lazy.”
C: Are you/have you been involved in other development related activities, and if so what?
B: “During the BIDS, I was active in TAMAM, which is a NGO working with migrants and asylum children through various activities. Today, I am still a passive member, although not active, as it would require a of time investment, which I can’t afford now!”
C: Do you have any BIDS-related long-term future plans?
B: “For me, the purpose of studying BIDS is to be able to contribute to society and economical and social development. This, one can do in three different ways: First by taking part in grassroots, secondly more state-related and through politics. Finally, in economics entities by finding finance and working in funds. In order to do this, one needs to know how financial programs work, which is why I took a master in Finance.
If I would have the opportunity to combine my degrees and work with something related to BIDS, I would like to, yes. But as I see it now, I have quite few opportunities.”
C: Why do you think that is?
B: “In my opinion, there exist some professional establishment difficulties related to BIDS. There is huge competition amongst us BIDS students and students studying social and economic subjects from other programs. “Development studies” is not very acknowledged on the labor market for now, but give it 5 or 10 years and I’m sure that will change!”
C: Do you have some advice for future BIDS-graduates?
B: “My main advice would be:
- Continue on with a master’s degree, but not in development studies. Take more narrow steps and choose something more specific. Then there won’t be many duplicates of your career profile when looking for jobs;
- Learn languages! Speaking many languages is a big advantage;
- Explore the world if you have the opportunity. You can learn more than languages, you can learn how people think.”
Interview conducted by Clara Nepper Winther