'As HSE Graduates, We Have a Common Energy Propelling Us Forward'
Someone who graduated from HSE in 2013, managed 5 exams in one year, started a career with KPMG company and teaches at his alma mater, always has something to talk about with current students. HSE alumnus Marat Khamzin (Economics, 2013), discussed what distinguishes HSE students and how to effectively prepare for exams.
ON CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY
Before the 9th grade I was planning to study something related to physics. Then I changed my mind about what I wanted to do next, and I decided to choose a more versatile specialization which would give me important skills and qualifications. When it was time to choose a university, I chose HSE. It was the only university where I really wanted to go. The remaining ones were simply my 'safeties'. I was drawn to the Higher School of Economics by its reputation: my friends studied here, I heard a lot of things about it—that it is a progressive university with modern teaching methods. So, by the 11th grade I already knew where I wanted to go - HSE Perm!
People tried to scare me with tales of the 5 examination sessions and other stuff. But, as they say, if you’re afraid of wolves – don’t go into the forest. I was ready to learn. It didn’t scare me at all!
ON GETTING INTO HSE PERM
Besides HSE, I applied to several universities. Everywhere I went there were long lines, stuffy rooms, and no places to sit. At HSE everything was different: the admissions office is located in a comfortable, air-conditioned room, the staff offers water and sweets. The atmosphere of course appealed to me. I thought: “It's great here! This is where I want to be! ”
My exam results weren’t perfect though. So I was nervous, constantly checkings the lists of how many people had already submitted documents and how many points they had.
ON THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM AT HSE
When I entered HSE, there was still a system with 5 exam sessions every 2 months (now there are 4 of them – author’s note). Many people were saying that was an advantage: once you pass the exam you can just forget about it. There are some long-run subjects - so it was not so important how many sessions to take. I had no problems with my studies.
My classmates and I always studied for exams together. These study sessions often just turned into parties: we played darts with chalk on the blackboard. That was great!
ON THE TEACHERS AND THE CURRICULUM
My first two courses were on micro- and macroeconomics, higher mathematics. I have fond memories of Professors Marina Sheina and Elena Zueva, as well as history classes with Professor Elena Korchagina. The whole group attended classes even when it was -37 degrees out.
There were no insignificant classes. In fact, when I was studying, accounting and IFRS were some of the least favorite subjects, but ironically I do this for living now.
Now I teach at HSE; I conduct seminars or attend thesis defenses. I cannot say that something has changed a lot. HSE maintains its standards!
ON EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Maybe I was a boring student, but I do not remember extracurricular life. We were basically just learning. But now at HSE the extracurricular activities stand out: there are HSE FACE, different contests, KVN, and interest clubs.
ON WHAT DISTINGUISHES HSE STUDENTS
I can say that when you yourself are a student at HSE, you are not aware of how HSE students are different than other university students. But when you already have work experience, you get a better understanding of everything. 90% of the employees in our office are students and graduates of the Higher School of Economics. It is impossible to reproach other universities in any way: talented candidates from other universities periodically come to us for internships. However, those who come from HSE stand out. They don't just think differently, they think! They want to do something, not according to a template or just as it is. It is always interesting with them! As HSE graduates, we have a common energy propelling us forward.
This year I had a lot of students from HSE as interns on projects who were very interesting to work with. They always tried to do something in an extraordinary way. It was fantastic.
ON HIS CAREER
During my studies, I worked in a small Perm company. I strongly believed that corporations are killing the individual and you have to go to work in a small startup: it should fun and it should have a soul. However, this conviction I had disintegrated pretty quickly. The company had a good atmosphere, the colleagues were excellent. But I understood that what I was studying and what I was doing were slightly different things. My expectations did not coincide with what was happening in reality.
I worked for six months and after that I started to prepare for exams and my thesis defense. Later HSE held another event, which the director and HR of the KPMG office in Perm attended. They gave a small presentation on how great it is to work for this company. Then there was a test for logic, knowledge of mathematics and English. According to the test results, some students, including me, were invited to an interview. I went through all the stages of the interview process and decided to try give working at KPMG a try. The company is very cool: all initiatives are supported, and we have a great manager. The system is absolutely clear: as in all modern companies, if you perform certain KPIs, you grow. Here, I grow as I can!
I thought that at KPMG I would be pushing papers all day, getting bogged down in a routine, but everything turned out to be fantastic. There are a lot of myths and sayings about large companies that people throw around here—that they 'squeeze the life out of you'. But these myths were quickly disproved for me. KPMG is a fun place to work. And its atmosphere has defnitely got soul.
ON THE WORK ASSIGNMENTS
We have project work, we do audits for large companies, we solve completely different problems. These are not necessarily regional companies: KPMG works for the whole of Russia, and there are even international projects. There is no division here, where if you work in the Perm office, you only work on Perm projects.
ON KNOWLEDGE ACQUIRED AT HSE
HSE gives students an important skill - the ability to cope with deadlines, a large volume of tasks. It really helps in life. All employers note this ability in HSE graduates.
I applied a lot of knowledge that I gained at HSE when passing internal exams at KPMG. I passed a considerable part on knowledge I retained from HSE. I already had a foundation upon which to add more information.
A PIECE OF ADVICE TO STUDENTS AND GRADUATES
I can only give one piece of advice to students and graduates - to work hard and a lot! You just need to do what you like. There is nothing worse than working at a job that you don’t love.
If I had to choose only one discipline, it would be something having to do with pure mathematics.
My most memorable year at HSE was my first one. Everything was so new, I experienced a lot of new things that I'll never forget.
Choosing between Professors Galina Volodina and Andrei Emelyanov is like having to answer the question 'Who do you love more - mom or dad?'
My suggestion to HSE: keep going! I can clearly see that the university is developing and moving forward.