In Blog, UK Universities

Studying the International Foundation Year or Master’s Preparation with DIFC Ireland is just the first step in your future career, but an important one.

By studying abroad, you are opening up a whole world of opportunities for you to develop critical skills, networks and gain qualifications that will kick start your career! We took some time recently to catch up with DIFC Alum, Vitaly Dramaretskiy from Russia, to find out what opportunities studying abroad has presented for him.

Tell us a little about your education journey.

I’m currently a Mechanical Engineer at Shell. I graduated from DIFC about 10 years ago, in 2010 – so 11 years ago now. So, what I do is that I’m responsible for the mechanical integrity of the equipment at one of the largest petrochemical facilities here in the Netherlands.

My journey was once I graduated from DIFC, I applied for a degree in the University of Sheffield in the UK. So I went there and studied for four years and did my degree in Mechanical Engineering and after that I came back to Russia. For about a year I worked as a engineer for one of the software companies, and after that I joined Shell. Shell gave me some great opportunities to travel the world. Straight after Russia, I went to New Zealand for two years and worked there as a Mechanical Engineer. So after that, I came back to Russia and worked in Sakhalin, an island next to Japan, and worked there for about a year. After a year, I decided to move on and found my job in the Netherlands and have been here for about two years now.

Photo credit: Shell Global

What kind of opportunities has studying abroad offered you?

That was the golden ticket, I would say. If I was to graduate from a Russian university, probably the international companies such as Shell would have taken me as seriously as they did. Namely, because of the language. In Russia, they don’t teach English as much. Also, the quality of the education that I received in the UK is completely different from what you can get in Russia, for example. I can feel that I was way ahead of the game, particularly when I was applying for my jobs. Bascially, I could see the other applicants during the recruitment day, so all the graduates were there at the same time and we were assessed in the same way. So, I could also try to benchmark myself against the others and I could see great differences in myself compared to the graduates from Russian universities.

How did you find living and studying in Ireland?

I loved it! But, to be honest, I didn’t have a lot of money to travel around Ireland, because I was a student at the time, so I didn’t get to see much of it. But I really want to come back and do it, because I recall all of my friends managed to travel around the country during the year and they had great experiences. I want to come back and do it, but at the time I was so busy with my studies. I wanted to get the best grades I can and apply for the best university I can. But I enjoyed it a lot – maybe except for the weather, but that’s a common problem for this part of the world.

But I like the Irish culture a lot – especially the pub nights, which may not be happening so much any more. But back in the days that was a spectacular scene every Friday night – which I would like to participate in.

Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

What were the employment opportunities like after graduation?

For me, it was quite difficult. First of all, I wanted to stay in the UK but when I graduated they introduced this law that says that you’re not allowed to stay and look for a job, so basically I could only stay for a couple of months. And that wasn’t enough to land a job to be honest, so I had to go back to Russia. In Russia, my skills were not very in demand so it took me a little time – I think about 4 months after my graduation to get an interview. But, as soon as I left Russia, my skills became more in demand in the line of business I’m in now. Now I can move positions very easily.

How did you Foundation studies prepare you for you future career?

That’s the foundation of my skills at the moment. First, when you go to university, you build a base. And then once you start working, you realise that base is not enough to execute certain job tasks, so you really need to build up that experience. So for me, the base that I made in Sheffield was so perfect that is was very easy for me to get on doing things pretty fast in my job.

The University of Sheffield

How did you find the transition from studying in Russia to Ireland/UK?

Yes, there were big differences, especially given Russia is more a post soviet union country, and the UK and Ireland are all western countries – so the culture and education system is quite different. So, in Russia, what they do is they teach people to become specialists. However, in Ireland and the UK, they teach people to become more generalists – so they give you the skills to become whoever you want to become. But in Russia, they just teach you a profession so that when you graduate you become, let’s say for example, a rocket building specialist and you only know how to build a certain type of rocket, for example. But in the UK and Ireland, the education system is such that you are given the flexibility to choose your specialty in the future.

What advice would you give to your 17-year-old self?

Yeah – keep it up! Keep doing the same kind of work I was doing 10 years ago, cause I was studying so much and I didn’t really even go outside at the time. But the thing is, it paid off in the end. The hard time you get during your studies, really pays off in the future. So, you just need to realise that and keep believing that its going to work out.


Watch the Interview Here




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