From the real experts. Expert advice for second-year master's students.

Expert advice for second-year master’s students in HEPM – Part II

Hello dear readers, welcome to the second part of our blog series, a continuation of Part I, featuring an engaging interview with Assoc. Professor Mathilde Sengoelge. In this part, Mathilde shares her expert advice specifically directed towards second-year master’s students in HEPM and prospective students. This part of the series focuses on crucial topics such as thesis guidance, future career prospects, and general advice to help navigate our academic and professional journey.

Take a five-minute break, enjoy a walk in nature, or bask in the sun while you read this blog. Reflect on your perspective and feel free to leave a comment or question below.

Thesis guidance

Selecting a thesis topic is a significant decision in our academic pathway. Mathilde emphasised the importance of finding a supervisor who matches the specific thesis topic well. “I would focus on finding a supervisor who is a good match, as being more important than the thesis topic”. Being open to exploration and curiosity is key, even if it means choosing a qualitative thesis to diversify your experience, given the quantitative focus of much of the coursework.

Additionally, some thesis topics may have a higher chance of being published, which could be an important consideration for some students. “If publication matters to you, get that wish out early when choosing projects to see if the potential supervisor thinks the project would have a chance at submission to a journal,” Mathilde suggests.

Expert advice for second-year master's HEPM. Two open computers on a desk and people writing.
Industry Vs Academic setting for thesis? Photo by Scott Graham.

Her advice when it comes to choosing between an academic setting and an industry setting for the thesis –

Academic setting

  • Pros: The supervisor is usually familiar with the KI thesis requirements and timeline, making it easier to manage and ensuring the project fits well within academic expectations. Additionally, the supervisor may have experience in publishing on the topic, which can be advantageous if you aim for your thesis to be published.
  • Cons: There is usually no exposure to a real-world setting, which can limit practical experience and networking opportunities.

Industry setting

  • Pros: It is exciting to gain exposure to a real-world setting and expand your network within the industry. This experience can provide valuable practical insights and connections that can benefit your future career.
  • Cons: The external supervisor may not be familiar with the KI thesis requirements or timeline, which can lead to unrealistic expectations and requests for too much work in a short time frame due to their eagerness to involve you in the project.

Ensuring a good match with supervisors and communicating goals and expectations will be crucial to a successful thesis experience.

Future career prospects

As we look ahead to our careers in health economics, policy, and management, it’s essential to understand the emerging trends and opportunities in the field. Mathilde highlights the increasing need for flexibility and adaptability. “I believe an emerging trend in the field is that we cannot just focus on one topic like in the past. Students graduating need to be more flexible and adaptable as our environment changes quickly,” she explains. This shift means that being well-rounded and open to various aspects of the field can significantly enhance the career prospects.

To best position yourself for success after graduation, Mathilde recommends expanding knowledge and skills beyond the traditional curriculum. One resource she suggests is Brené Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead.” This book focuses on leadership, vulnerability, and resilience—qualities that are increasingly important in today’s dynamic work environment. By cultivating these traits, you can better navigate the complexities of your future career and stand out in a competitive job market.

Additionally, staying updated with the latest research, trends, and innovations in health economics, policy, and management is important. Engaging with professional networks, attending conferences, and participating in workshops can provide valuable experience and connections that will help you stay ahead of the curve.

General advice

Mathilde offers two key pieces of advice that can guide us effectively.

Soft skills vs. hard skills – When asked about the one piece of advice she wishes she had received as a student, Mathilde emphasized the importance of balancing soft skills with hard skills. “The soft skills are just as important as the hard skills, so ensure you have growth in both areas”. While technical expertise and knowledge are crucial, developing interpersonal skills, communication abilities, and emotional intelligence are equally important. These soft skills can enhance your ability to work effectively in teams, lead projects, and navigate complex professional environments.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance – Balancing work and personal life is essential for long-term success and well-being. Mathilde shares her perspective on maintaining this balance. “Keep in mind it is a lifelong learning journey, and it is important to have that growth mindset, that you have to exit your comfort zone in order to get to the learning zone,” she says. Being open to new experiences, challenges, and continuous improvement are important. It also involves recognizing the importance of self-care and setting boundaries to ensure that you can sustain your energy and enthusiasm over the long term.

A final tip

A final tip from Mathilde:- when communicating your desires and goals to colleagues, employers, or professors, be sure to provide the full picture. Include specifics such as your particular focus or field (e.g., qualitative or quantitative research, health economic modelling), your availability (start and end dates), whether you are looking for full-time or part-time opportunities and your preference for paid or unpaid positions. Don’t forget to attach a CV (preferably 2 pages)

So here it is, the full interview with our esteemed Assoc. Professor Mathilde. I hope you enjoyed it and found the advice and recommendations valuable. Enjoy your summer and let me know your thoughts about these blogs by writing in the comments below.

Until I come back with another blog covering summer adventures as a student, have a great summer break!

Yohannes - Health Economics Policy and Management

Yohannes - Health Economics Policy and Management

Hi there! My name is Yohannes, and I come from Ethiopia, the Cradle of Humanity. I've always been curious and ambitious, and my journey to Karolinska Institutet is a testament to that. I studied medicine and developed a deep fascination with the intersection of healthcare, economics, policy-making, and management. This passion led me to KI. I look forward to learning more about healthcare economics and becoming a part of the vibrant international community at KI. In my free time, I enjoy writing and drawing, always exploring and trying new things.


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