News and events
Mobility at a partner university: a window of opportunity on other professional possibilities
06 April 2017
Brigitte, a finance and controlling assistant, carried out a period of mobility at the Hochschule Neu-Ulm, a partner university in Germany, where she was able to observe the work of an office, similar to hers, and bring back new ideas for everyday activities. Below, she tells of her experience.
In 2016, in agreement with the manager of the department I worked for, I planned a period of mobility at a SUPSI partner university in order to be able to see some aspects of my work at another European institution. The planning of the mobility period was done very much in advance to be able, on one hand, to identify a favourable period for my absence and, on the other, to be able to understand what I wanted to do and see. I find it important to both take the time to do an experience such as this but also to devote time to prepare for it, because even just a couple of days "away from the office" really allows you to have another perspective on your work. Furthermore, planning everything in advance goes against the logic of "waiting for the right moment", because if you expect it passively, the moment will never arrive! Finally, time is needed to program the host’s availability: the ideal time for someone to leave on the Mobility programme is not always the most congenial period for the host.
My choice fell to a German university because, being bilingual, I would have been more familiar with addressing particular and delicate issues such as liquidity management and internal control systems and in fully understanding the technical language used among finance specialists. Although we worked in advance with the International Office of SUPSI, which gave me all the support to get in touch with the various universities, the first university was unable to accommodate me in March 2017. We then evaluated other options and eventually the choice fell to the Hochschule Neu Ulm (HNU), where I was a guest for a week.
The Hochschule Neu Ulm (HNU) is oriented to the study of economics applied to different areas and collaborates with the local university for a degree course also related to technology. It is a University of Applied Sciences (UAS) a little smaller than SUPSI: built on land where an American military camp once stood. Like many universities, HNU has also grown over time and, as a result, a second building is being built adjacent to the first. The buildings meet current standards of architecture and are oriented towards sustainability; for example, a pond was created which allows with its water to refrigerate the building in the summer months, making the air conditioning system completely redundant.
The welcome from the finance colleagues was excellent: during my 4 days of mobility I was shadowed by both the manager and various colleagues who allowed me to observe the various processes and who answered my many questions. During the course of the day, in addition to working with them, I could also carry out autonomous research. Generally, the mobility timetable is defined during the preparation of the programme: in my case, the days were intense but I also had time left over to visit the city.
Ulm is a small town about the same size as Lugano; it has the Münster (cathedral), whose two towers make it the tallest religious structure in the world. During one afternoon, I had the honour of climbing its 738 steps (!) but to arrive at the top and take in the spectacular view repaid all the hard effort. Ulm is also full of small local shops: very particular the area of the Fischersviertel, the oldest part of the city, with its canals and historic houses. From the Fischersviertel you can go down to the Danube and take a long walk along its banks.
Overall the experience was very positive and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy other experiences. One week's duration for job shadowing is the ideal period; I personally find that a good knowledge of a common language, whether German, French or English, is more fruitful and allows opportunities for understanding and interaction with colleagues from another school. I recommend a mobility experience which, in addition to having enriched me at a professional level, also gave me the opportunity to interact with other people and new environments.