Growing up in Vietnam, Mai Phuong Vu dreamed of studying abroad, but she knew the cost of fees and travel would make it impossible. A change in career prompted her to investigate possibilities and now, thanks to a generous scholarship from the Erasmus Trustfonds, she has embarked on a Masters in Media and Creative Industries at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communications.
Keen to give back to the community, she will be taking part in the Erasmus Charity Run in April to support other students from developing countries to study in the Netherlands.
“Although it’s been quite a while since I last ran 10k, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m an ambassador for scholarships and want to help more young people like me to go to one of the best universities in Europe,” she says.
Succeed through 21st century marketing techniques
The Netherlands have always interested Mai. Before her undergraduate degree in International Business and Economics in Vietnam, she was a pupil at the Hanoi-Amsterdam High School, founded in 1985 by a former Mayor of Amsterdam, with donations from Dutch people.
After three years working in banking, Mai now wants to engage with small businesses in Vietnam in a different way, helping them succeed through 21st century marketing techniques. Mai is sure her postgraduate degree at EUR will give her the skills and knowledge to set up a media and communications agency to support start-ups, small businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
I didn’t think I had much of a chance
There had been tough competition for the scholarship: “To be honest, I didn’t think I had much of a chance but I felt the award could be a good fit for me and was so excited when I was invited for an interview.
“I practised talking in front of the camera for the online interview but the panel was super friendly and I found I could express myself well. They were especially interested in why I was changing career from banking to media and communications. I explained I now want to work directly with business owners to create meaningful content, especially in branding and communications. This would help them communicate with their customers at a reasonable cost.
Time to change direction
“Leaving my job was difficult for me as I enjoyed my role and worked with great colleagues but I believed it was time to change direction. Before I made the decision to leave banking, I worked freelance for a friend’s company in the evenings to test out my ideas.
“My friends and family were very happy for me when I told them I had been awarded the scholarship. My parents have never been to Europe so I’m hoping they’ll be able to come to my graduation, I’m so grateful to them as they have always encouraged me to succeed.”
Mai finds Rotterdam a modern, peaceful and welcoming city and has already made friends from many countries around the world, which is helping her understand different learning styles and ways of doing business.
She says her Masters is challenging but very rewarding: “The one-year course is very intense with language barriers to overcome at the start. Good time management is essential, I have learned to prioritise my schedule to make sure I prepare for every class and I am enjoying team work and group assignments with my fellow students.
“I’m sure I will return home to build my career in Vietnam but, after graduation, I really want to work in Europe for a time. I value the experience of working in an international environment and I would like to travel as well. But, in the meantime, I have to start training seriously for the Charity Run and hopefully encourage some of my friends to join me.”
The Erasmus 10k Charity Run on Sunday, April 16 is officially part of the Rotterdam Marathon. EUR students, academics, and staff are encouraged to take part by running or donating to help raise funds for talented but disadvantaged students who otherwise may not be able to afford to study