Concerned about going back to study when you have already spent a significant portion of your life working? Interested in undertaking a career change but don’t have the necessary qualifications? Or perhaps you are worried that you might be too old to go back to education and that you won’t have anything in common with younger classmates? Our ambassador from Vietnam and fellow mature student at DCU, Kim Phan Thi Thien helps us to destroy the myths surrounding going back to college by sharing her own experience.

After over a decade of working, I decided that it was time to further my studies abroad and chose Ireland as my destination after I was enticed by the program MSc in Electronic Commerce at Dublin City University. That was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life so far. If you’re struggling to decide whether you should go back and study something new, I hope my advice will encourage you to take a leap of faith and make that decision.

It is actually an advantage for mature students studying new subjects since you are able to see the big picture, connect with areas of familiarity and reflect on your past experience to comprehensively understand a matter. The added experience allows you to think outside the box.

Group of students in matching red hoodies posing with a mock instagram photo frame

International Students having fun

Pause before your next move

Not everybody is satisfied with their current career or completely sure about who they want to become. This can happen at any age. I felt as though I was approaching something of a quarter-life crisis and unsure of what direction I should head in career-wise. Going back to education allowed me to press pause on my life. I was able to redefine what I thought was my life’s purpose and identify what my next move would be. One year of studying will let you experience various subjects, activities, and introduce you to new people from different backgrounds and cultures. In the eCommerce program that I am studying, there is one particular module named Career Personal Development that I found incredibly helpful. In this module, you get to take several tests such as personality tests, strength-finder, managerial style, learning indicator and more. The purpose of these tests is to help you identify what job or career path might suit you best. You may think this seems as though it is targeted at younger students who are just starting out but you never know what you could discover about yourself!

Deepen your knowledge and develop critical thinking

The MSc in eCommerce is an intensive program offering you a wide range of modules, practical projects and activities. The nature of the course is that you will spend most of your time on self-directed learning by reading the necessary journals and books and working on assignments. It is a fundamental requirement for any Master’s student to always include academic literature to back up your points. Through the journey of gathering information via books, research papers and discussions with professors, lecturers or team members for a particular subject, you will deepen your knowledge, and as a result, gain a solid background in the subject you are studying. Equally as important, this process will help you to enhance your critical thinking which is an essential skill regardless of your age or what you are studying.

group of students smiling in front of a red bricked building

Students from DCU — All different ages and nationalities

Learn from the young folks

It was a unique experience to be one of the oldest people in my class. I was placed in groups to work with students who were several years younger. Through this, I discovered that they have endless energy, passion, and creativity. Many of my younger classmates are also incredibly talented and daring, some have even turned their ideas into a start-up business. In your thirties, you may be less enthused about leaving your comfort zone. But, spending so much time around youthful and vibrant energy can motivate you to try something new, think bigger and most importantly be willing to take a risk when you have an idea worth exploring.

The opportunity to become a global citizen

In Ireland, you are allowed to stay in the country for up to two years to look for jobs following your graduation. Studying here also allows you the opportunity to apply for roles with leading tech stars such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Linkedin all of which have their European headquarters based in Ireland. For those who want to explore the option of a start-up, go and grab your chance in the entrepreneur institution within your business school. There are plenty of competitions and activities for students and good ideas will be funded which will allow you to see your idea to come to life.

smiling woman in front of Microsoft building with blue sky and green fields in the background

Kim Phan Thi Thien at the Microsoft Insight day for students

Find what is right for you!

Completing a course will help to boost your self-confidence. Perhaps you didn’t make the most of your student days the first time around? Now is your second chance to do it the way you want to and enjoy yourself even more. After so many years of trudging back and forth to the office every day, you will find yourself thrilled at the idea of going to the library again, getting to hang out with friends and make some new ones! I am so happy that I made this decision.  So far on my journey as a mature student, I have become an International Ambassador, been shortlisted for Digital Student of The Year from the DMA Award, I am currently teaching basic digital skills to senior citizens, joined in various hackathons and student competitions and so on. I will never forget the experience and I guarantee that you will have the time of your life. You’re never too old to try something new!