I'm Francesco Palmieri, I'm 26 years old and I come from Italy, from Florence. I currently live in Frankfurt, where I'm working and of course studying in my free time - for a Master's in Data Science at IU.
I chose the part-time study model, and my work arrangement is part-time too, so I do half a day of studying and half a day of working. I work as a financial analyst in the European Central Bank.
Combining work and studies is challenging, because I just joined my team four or five months ago, and the onboarding is very, very busy. So I don't always have time to study like I was planning, but I guess in the future, after the onboarding it done and everything gets clear on my tasks and my responsibilities, I'll have more time. I hope so, at least.
I try to set for myself a certain hour to finish work at every day. I should only be working in the mornings, but I always finish around four or five. So after I finish work, I just maybe take one half-hour break, and then I started studying.
What I like most about my studies is that it's very flexible, and I think that's the nicest thing: to find that you can arrange your time however you like and prefer. However, if you decide to come on board for a programme, and you decide to study, it's on you to be accountable for the next couple of years, and you need to find the time. But having this flexibility is a very good point [in favour of the programme].
Starting my studies
At the beginning, to be honest, it was difficult to understand how everything is set up, but [it] slowly got a little bit better. I started getting involved a little bit with things and I started just studying a little bit by myself using the textbooks and online exercises. So, I mean, so far, I would say so far so good.
My advice to other students
The biggest advice I could give to anyone is just - when you're on board [for] something, you just need to be committed to [it]; I think that's the most important thing. If you're committed, it's still going to be tough, but you will find space and time and strength to study, to work and to combine all the things that are happening in your life. If you don't start very committed, that's not going to happen.
I already did another Master's before joining IU, working and starting. That was only the only thing that kept me going – that I was committed to finishing it. Otherwise, no way you're going to finish it.
Comparing my previous studies to IU
I was studying at a UK university, and the UK's way of studying, and [the] system it's a little bit different, I think, from the German and the Italian ones. I started out after my Bachelor's, and that was, like [the studies at] IU I think more focused real learning, a lot of studying - I mean, reading books, studying them, and then exercising. I think the UK university was a little bit more projects-centric, so you would work a lot on projects with your peers and write a lot of papers. And, I mean, I liked that one as well. I think I would like a combination of a UK, Italian and IU approach to the university.
Why I chose IU
When I was looking for a university for my Data Science Master's, I had a general idea that I was going to move to Germany. So I decided okay, let's see if there is something that's maybe hybrid [studies], where I could sometimes attend. But I really didn't find much in Germany until I found the directory the IU, but to be honest, my biggest comparison was always with bootcamps, that give you in less time, in a way… I mean, in a little bit more pragmatic way, they teach you a little bit some data science stuff. But I thought that the fact that you would get a recognised degree [from IU is good]. Even if I don't 100% agree [with] the fact that only a degree is how the knowledge and the capabilities of a person are recognised, and I think that a company should use an approach base rather than a title base selection [process], you always need to adapt to what is required in the market.
So I thought [a degree] would be a good asset for my career, to have something more recognised, that was coming from a recognised institution. And then I thought that I liked how this programme was structured, [and] that was what drove my decision to [study at] IU.
The reputation of the university was also quite important, because I was going to invest some of my money, some of my savings, and my time – which is the most important thing. I didn't want to choose something that nobody knows, or didn't have a background. If you teach for many years with many, many thousands of students, and you keep on growing and you're so known that you already switched many of your programmes to fully online… for me that was a very big plus, because it's kind of an ancient university in Germany but also very innovative, already looking forward [to the future] and adapting towards where we are going in the future. So I thought that would be a very good combination.