Former FEB-student Sven Schmit (22) is pursuing an international academic career. After finishing his master programme at Cambridge in England, he will start his PhD at Stanford University mid September. What’s his secret for getting into these internationally renowned universities?
You're starting a PhD-program at Stanford University soon. What will you be researching?
‘I do not know yet. The first year is devoted to course work, which is usual in the US. During the year, there is plenty of time to find an advisor and a more specific topic. The programme is something in between Mathematics, Statistics, Operations Research and Computer Science, so I guess there is plenty to choose from.’
You are currently studying for your Masters (MASt) at Cambridge University. What program are you in?
‘Currently, I am following a Masters programme in Mathematical Statistics, which is part of the more widely known Part III of the Mathematical Tripos. Part III consists of about 80 courses including courses in high energy physics, prime numbers and applied statistics. Hence, it is very broad and as student you can pick any course you like. Also you have the possibility to write an essay.’
Your academic career started at FEB. What did you learn here that is still of use in your career now?
‘Pretty much everything. I started my BSc Econometrics and Operations Research in 2008. Of course, there are certain things that you use more often than others, but in general I think that everything will prove to be useful one day or another.’
What inspired you to study abroad?
‘In the summer of 2010 I attended a summer school at Berkeley, which really inspired me to study abroad, but not for a PhD per se.’
Do you have any advice for current students who are interested in an academic career?
‘It is hard to give general advice. I like to say that you should always try, even though you think your chances are slim. I, for one, never thought I would be admitted at Cambridge or Stanford. Also, it is very important to start looking around early, especially if you want to go abroad. Deadlines are often very early and the application process can take a lot of time.
Most importantly, I would encourage you to talk to the staff at the FEB, as they know much more than I do. I found that everyone is incredibly helpful and encouraging, and I think that is quite special.’
See also: FEB news 12/07/11: Sven Schmit best FEB student of the year
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