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Why studying Economics in Spain pays off: Q&A w/ Lian

Read one Economics MA graduate’s experience and how studying this qualification abroad has helped them in their graduate life.


Lian Zhang attended Barcelona GSE in Spain, studying a Health Economics and Policy MA. She graduated in 2012 and now works as a Health Economic Specialist at Shanghai Centennial Scientific Co. Ltd. Below she shares her inspiration; what it’s like to work abroad; and how a MA degree has prepared her for her future in Economics.



What or who first inspired you to pursue Economics?

‘When I was at university, I had several economics-related selective courses, such as International trade, Finance and Hot Economic Issues, which I found very interesting and useful and wanted to extend my knowledge beyond that. Given my internship and study track in medical social work, pursing a Master’s degree in Economics with focus on health seemed the ideal choice for me.’



Why should the average person care about Economics?

‘I think Economics is a fundamental subject that everybody should care about; or to put it another way, it influences everyone’s life consciously or unconsciously. It helps us understand why a recession happens, what drives healthcare reform and when there are real estate bubbles, etc… Some people purely have an interest in the mechanisms behind the stories and develop it into a research career. For most, the point of learning Economics, I think, is to have the ability to analyze and have your own insights of the political or economic issues around you; to make personal financing plans so as to have a better life with financial freedom; or possibly just to broaden your employment opportunities.’



How do you think your Master’s programme prepared you for successfully gaining employment? Was there anything in the programme which helped you, which wasn’t necessarily available to you in your previous (undergraduate) studies?

‘The training in this Master’s programme helped me make great strides towards developing necessary critical skills to match the requirements for health economists in the job market. Also as Health Economics has been a very driven employment market nowadays, I didn’t have many difficulties in finding my current job.


I think the international exposure is something I didn’t necessarily experience in my previous study or any other programmes. Take my class as an example: I was the only Chinese student and due to my limited abroad experience I had to make great efforts in overcoming language and culture hurdles to make friends. Fortunately, my peers were very friendly to help me. After one year in Barcelona, I feel all the effort made has been extremely rewarding for my life and work.’



Did you always have aspirations to work in a country other than your own?

‘I think I always dreamed of working in foreign countries when I grew up. However, I only feel I was truly empowered to make this dream come true after I finished my studies in Barcelona. Even so, there indeed exist challenges for a junior to start a career abroad. For me in particular, it was European employment restrictions for non-EU citizens. I chose to go back to China to have some local experience first before I kicked off a global career in the future. But I believe the best way to tackle the problems is to familiarise yourself with relevant policies; consult experienced people like career advisors or previous alumni who had similar experience; and make yourself outstanding compared to other candidates.’



Did you take advantage of any particular funding opportunities to help you?

‘Yes. Because my home country China belongs to the category of developing countries, I was eligible for one type of scholarships from BGSE. Also due to the academic merit at undergraduate level, I got half my tuition fees waived at admission to BGSE, which substantially reduced the economic burden of studying there. I still appreciate that offer.’



If you could go back in time to when you were starting your Master’s programme and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

‘I would say to myself: “Don’t be timid”. Don’t be afraid of making connections among peers.



Tell us about your current role and the company you work for.

‘I work for Shanghai Centennial Scientific, which is a premium health economic, market access, and health care consultancy serving China and the Asian region. I started as a specialist and have been recently promoted to associated manager. My main responsibilities are to coordinate/lead health economics evaluation projects, conduct original research and write articles for publication, as well as involve into business development activities.’



How has your Master’s programme prepared you for your current role?

‘I think the programme prepared me for my current role, from the theories to those critical skills because it really matched so well. For example, my first project was actually the measurement of disability adjusted life years (DALY), which is an elementary concept of Health Economics that is very familiar to every student in the Barcelona GSE Master in Health Economics and Policy. And the statistical analysis skills that Barcelona GSE taught us of course serve as important tools in my work.’



Inspired to join Lian as an Economics graduate working abroad one day? Browse for Economics courses now.

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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