Weterani wojenni – nasz wspólny problem [repost]

Oryginał ukazał sie w 2011, ale pochłoneła go Amba serwerowa…

Obserwując śmieszne ambicje mocarstwowe naszych politykierów, trudno nie zauważyć kolejnego wątku niekompetencji naszego państwa, jego instytucji i systemów.

Nasze proamerykańskie polityczne zwierzątka z wielką lubością wplątują nas w coraz to kolejny konflikt wojskowy na terenach gdzie polska racja stanu ma takie znaczenie jak moje pragnienie rządzenia Libią. Wysyłamy tysiące żołnierzy, tysiące ton sprzętu, a nawet okazjonalnie wywiosłujemy jakiś nasz „okręt”, czyli kupę złomu oddaną nam, bo było taniej niż zezłomować (za dawnych czasów to się nazywało „celem treningowym artylerii morskiej”). Nasi politycy lekką ręką wydają miliardy z naszych podatków na zabijanie ludzi którzy nam nic nie zrobili, w krajach gdzie nawet polskie biura turystyczne nie wyślą różowych Barbie ani łysych w klapach. Marnują miliardy które powinny zostać wpompowane w szkolnictwo, zdrowie, postęp technologiczny, i robią to bez podania nam jakichkolwiek spójnych teorii, modeli geopolitycznych, poza Chicagowsko-Jackowskim uwielbieniem hamerykanów i ich imperialnej polityki służącej wyłącznie zachowaniu cen ropy na hamerykańskich stacjach benzynowych by się grubasy nie wsciekały. Brakuje mi ciekawego modelu/uzasadnienia nad którym mógłbym posiedzieć i pomysleć.

Nasi żołnierze giną, bo takie są prawa natury i rachunku prawdopodobieństwa w przypadku gradu pocisków lecących ku głowie z prędkością 1100m/s lub eksplozji IED rozprężającej się z prędkością 3000m/s. Co jakiś czas zjeżdża do kraju kolejna owinięta flagą trumna a politykierzy, z charakterystyczną sobie obłudą, gadają pierdoly i rzucają slogany godne kreskówek z gumy Donald. Rodziny dostają żałosne ubezpieczenia, bo ich synowie nie lecieli w pijackiej CASAie ani nie wybierali się niepotrzebnie do Smoleńska.
Niemniej, zwłoki mają to do siebie, ze są binarne: jak ich nie ma to nie ma problemu a oddychające pre-zwłoki płacą podatki, ZUS, itp. Zwłoki-zwłoki to krótkoterminowy problem który ma to do siebie, że szybko gnije, przykryty płytą kamienną na cmentarzu. A wiec problem jest krótki jak zajawka w TVN24: trumna+flaga, powitanie, peany, do ziemi, wypłata, zapominamy.

Jako pasjonat historii, musza zadać pytanie: czy jesteśmy jako państwo gotowi na „żywe konsekwencje” wojen w których się udzielamy? Co dzieje się w Polsce z weteranami?
Ciekawi mnie z kilku powodów:
– Powracający do USA bohaterowie z II wojny światowej, a nawet Korei, byli witani jak wybawcy a państwo miało możliwość pomoc mi zakalimatyzowac się ponownie do życia;
– W przypadku wojny w Wietnamie już tak nie było i powracający byli wypychani ze środowiska z którego wyjechali a ranni trafiali w system żałosnej pomocy medycznej. W sumie, ogromna liczba trafiła na ulice i do „ruchów alternatywnych” (włącznie z zakładaniem większości gangów motocyklowych które działają do dziś);
– Żadne państwo nie uznaje „Gulf War Syndrome”, gdyż wtedy musiałoby wydać miliardy na leczenie i odszkodowania dla ludzi których to samo państwo wysłało do Iraku(1) bez odpowiedniego przygotowania;
– Anglia po Iraku i Afganistanie ma nowy problem: w mediach padło niedawno przerażające stwierdzenie: „w dowolnym brytyjskim mięście jesteś nie dalej niż 100 metrów od bezdomnego weterana”;
– Niedawno czytałem straszny artykuł o zmianie obrażeń wynoszonych z nowych konfliktów: o roli fali uderzeniowej w tworzeniu zmian mózgu, które nie są diagnozowane bo dotyczą tych co przeżyli wybuch, nie mają ran (widocznych) a nikt się nie interesuje długoterminowymi efektami wstrząsów na umysł i mózg jako komputer sterujący ciałem.
Wielkie, zaawansowane, bogate kraje nie dają sobie rady z weteranami: ich ilością, zróżnicowaniem i srogością ich problemów medycznych, problemami psychicznymi, rozpadem rodzin, przestępczością.

24713_rot

I jak da sobie rade nasze malutkie państewko z politykami którzy nawet nie potrafią autostrady zbudować, biurokratami zatrudnianymi przez pociotów i lekarzami którzy pracują na 16 etatach? Czy nas tez czeka rosnąca grupa wyrzutków społecznych, opętanych demonami wojny, cierpiących na drogie w leczeniu schorzenia, których wyrzekli się wszyscy?
Jeszcze nam tego brakowało, by do naszych mafii wstępowali weterani, znający się na zaawansowanej broni, nie bojący się gradu pocisków i umiejący zabić przy pomocy plastikowej łyżeczki. Malo nam było w czasach gdy ex-antyterrorysci szkolili gangsterów za kasę, lub ex-komandosi wspierali jedne i drugie mafie w ich lokalnych wojenkach?

Oczywiście, ten problem zajmie parę lat, a wtedy żaden z aktualnych decydentów nie będzie już przy żłobie. Ale może weterani zapamiętają tych co ich wysłali do piekła i za parę lat przypomną o sobie pod domem tego czy owego? Jak im pikieta nie wyjdzie to niech przynajmniej felgi zabiorą — i tak będą kupione z naszych podatków.

Zobaczmy jaki efekt odniesie najnowsza próba uregulowania tych kwestii podjęta przez polski rzad. Tutaj jest informacja ze Stowarzyszenia Rannych i Poszkodowanych w Misjach poza granicami kraju.

W 2012 pojawił się pierwszy glosny medialnie case

and a little moment from my favourite band

Call me Lecter, Hannibal Lecter

James Bond just kills people and beds beautiful women. Hannibal does all that and somewhere, when he has the time, he eats them, arranges them in beautiful formations or helps us admire how blood can enchantingly squirt from a severed artery across a clean white wall.

And, I do mean the TV series, now in its 3rd season, although the movies are cool too.

Long time ago, I came across Manhunter Red Dragon (not the pathetic remake “Red Dragon”), which introduced me to the word of killing people for fun, and Hannibal (at the time played by some other British actor), enjoying himself. Then Silence of the Lambs with Agent Claricccccccccccce Sssssssssssterling and the bottle of Chianti. And a few days ago, I finally found time to watch Hannibal Rising, which I loved, for the death, the illustration of pain turning into psychosis and of course Lin Gond (sexier Joan Chen) with Samurai swords. God created Ms. Gond to wield a sword and do terrible things to men. Weird timing, as just before that scary movie, I did a marathon re-run of the first 2 seasons of Hannibal, with the awesome Mads Mikkelsen (look for his other movies!).

We all KNOW who Lecter is, as Thomas Harris has created a movie super (anti)hero that anyone with a TV has been exposed to. But, the TV show takes us deeper. This is the phenomenon of last 15 years – good actors run from cinema movies and get involved in TV series. Why? Whatever a director can fit into 90 minutes for a cinema, can be deepend, enhanced, developed, accentuated, built-upon in a series of 5-6-7 seasons, each having 22 episodes, each episode lasting 46 minutes. TV series’ beat movies each time. They make us feel at home…

Hannibal kills. But he makes it look soooooo nice. Never before have you watched a movie or a TV show, seen the beginning where a single individual does his shopping, work, sports and YOU know that he is soon to meet Dr. Lecter. And, as the creators of the show intended, you KNOW what Lecter does. So, unlike CSI, when you expect murder, you watch Hannibal and enjoy the ripening of the… meat. Is the “Meat” training (for good meat taste)? Is the meat working (smart meat)? Is the meat scared (fear releases hormones that SPOIL the meat). Hannibal likes music, he loves his food, he appreciates beauty, he listens to opera, he can scare psychologists and confuse forensic detectives. In the meantime, he finds new meat (victims), plays with them, kills them, leaves some meat in the refrigerator and….
– Throws a lavish dinner for his stratospheric-society friends;
– Arranges whatever is left of the victim(s) in to aesthetically appreciable forms;

In the meantime, he is able to find other sociopaths and, have fun with them, by warning them of impending FBI investigations, FBI raids or… he simply talks to them about the aesthetical consequences of their work. Why dump a body in a river, when you can glue the body in a funny way to a ceiling?

Simultaneously, the TV series Hannibal plays with the FBI by providing them with forensic advice about (other) sociopaths, advises them on cases of incarcerated psycho inmates (including one unlucky FBI consultant) and, best of all, invites the FBI geniuses to dinners during which he serves many amazing dishes containing meat.
Hannibal scares you, makes you think of becoming HIM and also, instils the desperate, immediate need to become a vegetarian.
Unless, you appreciate the dialogue from episode 1 series 3, when Hannibal talks to a kidnapped (other) sociopath:
Other sociopath being eaten: Cannibalism was common among our ancestors. The common link between us and the apes was missing, only because we ate him.
Lecter: This isn’t cannibalism Abel. Cannibalism only happens when we are equals.
Other sociopath: This is only cannibalism if you eat… ME.

Throughout, we are shown taste, class, gene se qua, gravitas, and all the other cultural qualities that any well-bred member of the social elite can exhibit. Lecter enjoys beauty, music, opera, quality, food, tastes, smells, pheromones, emotions (of others), and the overall life experience.

The movies made Lecter cool. The TV series makes him a role model. But can our society survive such examples of sociopathic perfection?

Lecter, as created by Harris, is the guy that you can identify with. Got frustration at work? spend a day imagining your bosses eviscerated on fishing rope, some metal hooks and a good S&M cage. Annoyed with your office neighbour? Take him “to lunch”, where you serve him/her with their own leg, well-baked in thyne, wine, with some basil thrown in. Never got paid by the boss of your collapsing company (while he, the Boss, continues to drive the Ferrari)? Do a garden BBQ, where the “meat” is fresh, really fresh, recently “off-the-bone” and juicy, moist, tasty, “as if it came of the cow a few minutes ago”. If only the “cow” appreciated the guest comments, while it (the “cow”) hangs in your garage, bleeding, crying, trying to call its mother…

Doctor Lecter, you received a trully USEFUL education 🙂

Love your drone

For all the spooks out there: this is a fun “what if” article ;p
In recent months, national governments have increased the speed with which they are introducing controlling legislation, aimed at defining the rules related to drones. Of course, rules regulating private and business drone usage, as the governments themselves just loooove to send a drone to spy on you and/or fire a hellfire missile through your window.
So, we are now seeing rules being placed on drone operators – initially governments want people who fly them for business purposes to gain licences: show them that you can fly a drone for business reasons, pay a few thousand bucks and get your “droner licence”. Logical people will ask: what is the difference in flying a drone to spy on your girlfriend and flying it as a business. Answer: none. Flying a drone is flying a drone. It still has a camera and makes weird pictures of weird people doing weird things. But, if you are a business, then you have to pay your fee to the government for your right to do things, e.g. licence for whatever activity. It makes you think, how will Amazon do this, with Jeff Bezos’ idea for Amazon drone delivery?
The future of drones is amazing, as visible by the latest conferences and trade shows.

Genius scientists show us the next stages of drone developments (watch the video!!!!!!!!).

My wonder at government stupidity is stimulated by something else. Drones are a recent phenomenon, released to the public by overeager nerds.

I would understand the government desire to limit this technology, but, of course, it is impossible, as any toy store now carries technology recently used only by elite army units.

I would like to push the thought a bit further, in terms of what we as citizens can USE, and the government has little or no power to stop us. Ever seen this?

This is a 5000USD miniature JET ENGINE, used by model aircraft operators, to power their aircraft. It weighs 5.3 lbs (2.3kgs) and has thrust of 53lbs (23kgs) and can rotate up to 112 000RPM!!!!
THESE kind of aircraft…

In the late 1990s I had the pleasure of attending many miniature aircraft shows, where some truly crazy people flew some amazing aircraft. Amazing not just due to the chosen real aircraft, but also due to the size of the models.

I had some crazy evenings talking to similar crazies (you know who you are) about the idea, that this is way too dangerous. Cool but dangerous. The size and speed of these jet behemoths allows to ask one interesting question: when will someone use them for stupid reasons? You may ask: why would Marcin ponder such ridiculous notions? Answer: Dale Brown, a cool high-tech combat fiction author wrote about flying aircraft into buildings around the same time as did Tom Clancy. Both of them wrote many years before 9/11. The White House already has problems with amateurs flying drones to spy on Obama’s sex life. Enough examples?
Now, in those same creative 1990s, we talked about some other crazy stuff. Loooong before advanced flight simulators and commercial or even privately-available GPS. The idea was to take the existing technology and take it to the next step:
– Build a huge model (we loved the F14 Tomcat at the time);
– Buy the 2 jet engines needed to make the sucker go faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast;
– Install the standard flight system with its multi-band control unit;
– Add a second connection bandwidth;
– Install TWO cameras, that would feed the operator through the additional bandwidth.
– The Operator would have a helmet with stereo-vision installed, so that he could see “live” images;
Younger readers may laugh, at the “duh” (logical, today) nature of the ideas, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, none of this stuff existed. A decade before anyone thought of Occulus Rift, ELSA had the first 3D glasses (ELSA erazor III), which fluttered each eye to provide illusion of three-dimensionality.

So, the ideas were there, but no one took them to the next-next-next level.

To finish the article: take 25kgs of plastic aircraft, add 2 jet engines, advanced avionics and put some “boom” stuff into it. What do you get?

Or hell, why not build a cruise missile, with one or two $5000 jet engines inside it?
Citizens, cherish your drones! A drone does more than your rifle, protected under some constitutions…
Nerds, enjoy the funnnnnnnnn!!!!
And, yes, I do enjoy being a “what if” doomsdayer 🙂

Taking Chance

Combine Kevin Bacon with an amazing storyline based on an acclaimed short story based deep in real life and you have yourself a tearjerker. This is a movie that will make women cry and men, real men, either cry (secretly) or wipe their eyes claiming “allergies”. During this movie, I have MANY allergies.

This is not a movie about love. Not clear love. It is a movie about death, death in combat, suffering, loss, tragedy. A solider dies in Iraq and his body is transported from Baghdad to his final resting place in the USA. This is a movie about the dead soldier, PFC Chance Russell Phelps. None of us know him, none of us ever heard of him.
His body is the focal point of all human reactions. Reactions that make you THINK, PONDER, CRY.
This is a movie made regardless of war’s multiple sides – the enemies and good guys, heroes and villains. It is a movie about ultimate death, sacrifice for an ideological ideal and the suffering of normal people left behind to… live through the death/sacrifice.

Initially, you watch it to see the progress of the body. Taking Chance. Action on the battlefield, his trauma, death. Battle hospital. Diagnosis. Death = body. Incomplete body. Transport. Rammstein AFB (USA base in Germany), cleaning of body, progress. Body arrives in USA, undergoes the next stage of cleaning, analysis. You see the RESPECT offered to fallen soldiers by medical staff who NEVER met/knew the Fallen (with a capital F). And then you see the system for taking a body of a fallen soldier to his home. What other form of respect is there?
And the miracles begin. The accompanying officer getting upgrades at the airlines. Baggage staff respecting the coffin, pilots asking for passengers to WAIT until the coffin-accompanying-hero disembarks, lines of people saluting the (unknown)coffin. The pilot of a regional flight remembering the name of EVERY fallen hero he ever carried. The love, attention and devotion of every citizen that had the honour of witnessing the final journey of a fallen soldier. The little signals along the way make you think about love, honour, duty, service, sacrifice. Survivor guilt.

You see a motion picture and understand that in a good country, the Fallen are revered, respected, loved. They are Fallen FOR the nation. Nothing else matters. All sins, mistakes, errors, inadequacies, are GONE. You (they) died for the nation. All is forgotten, but your courage.

I am not a Marine. But I can only say (by claiming the right to the IMPOSSIBLE): Chance Phelps, you are remembered, because your final journey is so deep and powerful that, regardless of nation-state, YOU HAD AN IMPACT. Greater after your death, but an awesome impact nonetheless.
This is a movie for your darker evenings, when you need to be alone. You, your soul and a good bottle of expensive whiskey.

Rest in Peace, Pvt Phelps = @IMDB.

Semper Fidelis. Because none of us, outside the Marine Core, have the right to say “Semper Fi”.


Quote: “If you knew more soliders like PFC Chance Phelps, the world would not need the Marine Core.” Can there be a better admission/salute?
The movie shows us, normal people, that WE MEAN SOMETHNING, even in death. REMEMBER THAT.

And remember – PFC Chance Russell Phelps, USMC, 1984-2004.

Mr/Miss, thank you, excuse me. Where is the politeness?

What happened to formal politeness in the 21st century? Why is everyone on a first name basis or expects/demands to be? Who forced upon us this myth of instant “friendship” and “zero distance” with people we don’t know or who serve us coffee or call from the blue to sell new mobile services? Even more with those at the workplace, for whom “instant pall-hood” has become a religion (don’t they have a LIFE outside the company walls/halls?)
I’m wondering whether it is (my) age talking or maybe a feeling of self-worth and pride from one’s achievements, but I started noticing that the (various) barriers between myself and the rest of the world are a very important part of life. I work hard to improve myself, advance, gain promotions, be recognised. And…to distance myself from (most) others.

First, there are the negative reasons for maintaining personal distance:
– Just because you know my details from your computer screen does not make us BFFs or pals or mates or druzya;
– Just because you are lonely and have no life, does not allow you to be on a first-name basis with anyone you meet (does anyone remember this term “first name basis”?);
– Just because you were badly educated and were not taught the difference between “friend” and “acquaintance” does not give you the right to hug me and use my first name;
– Just because you snuck your way into a job and now have an inferiority complex does not give you the right to demand use of first names in the workplace — employees might actually want to stay as far away from you as possible (Polacy – pamietacie termin “nie tykaj mnie”?);
But there are also positive ones for maintaining personal distance:
1. A boss is someone to be respected for his/her achievements and for formal position within the structure (it is difficult to utter “Vice President…Johnny);
2. Some people have so many formalised achievements (titles, etc), that it is grammatically impossible to refer to them in any informal manner and they deserve to be “titled”;
3. Some relationships require a distinction between you and the people above you, around you and below you, so that stupid (subjective) perceptions do not confuse the (objective) relationships;

And then there is culture, history and good upbringing. Mr, Sir, Madame, Mizz (Ms) indicate the true nature of a relationship (either subservient as was in the olden times or of distanced semi-equals today), and calls for using the individual’s surname WITHOUT crossing the familiarity border of “you” (ty) and/or first name. Those, are for family, people you know for many years and had frequent contact with and for…friends. And here lies a key issue for the Facebook, Twat (sorry Twitter), VK and mobile-texting generation: FRIENDS are few and far between – if have 5-6 friends by the time you are 40, you are a lucky person. Friends are people on whom you can count to help regardless of circumstances, who like (love?) you regardless of your inner demons and enemies and who can tolerate your behaviours and can pay your bail. Not the ACQUAINTANCES who are only interested in your money, adding you to their “like” lists or wanting to “borrow” your homework or people accidentally in a photo whom you then “tag”.

I recall an interesting explanation during a recent trip to Ukraine, which (regardless of its absolute correctness) summarises this issue of relationship “naming”: Andriej Viktorowich Zalevski (first name, name of father “otchestvo”, surname). As a stranger/lesser I am expected to refer to this imaginary person as “Gospodin Zalevski” (Mr. Z), after a few years I may be allowed to be more forward and talk with “Andriej Viktorowich” and a few more years down the road HE can propose to progress to a first name basis. To those around us, the mode of reference is a clear signal of our relationship and its length/depth.
As time goes by, I am more for the forceful return of such a system, as:
– I like to respect those who deserve respect (equal achievers, superior achievers, big bosses);
– I like to maintain distance between myself and strangers;
– I realy like to miantain distance between myself and other employees, who do not interest me whatsoever;
– Where people have formal titles or posts, they should be referred to (with the exception of post-soviets and their “upgrading” of intermediate titles, where vice-minister is “minister”—a post is a post!!);
– I see no reason to give (absolute)strangers and inferiors any ego boost, as they do not deserve it (otherwise they would be in one of the above categories).
Besides, in all cultures we find that it is easier to standoffishly insult a stranger while not losing any class. “You Sire, are a swine!” sounds much better and funnier (Anthony Bourdain offers some good examples!).

And finally, do you want to be forcefully “friendly” with people whom you consider to be complete and utter idiots? Especially at work 🙂
And, yes, I seem to favour high power-distance relationships.

Frakkin’ Battlestar Galactica

I just completed another marathon of BSG 2003. As the owner of the amazing 30DVD pack (30, 40, 50? discs), there comes a time each year when the BSG universe needs a re-visit.
I was too young for the original BSG. Yes, I know, using the term “too young” makes the original BSG aaaaaancient. I recall the original BSG as something looked upon as something weird, not-so-cool, with uncool special effects and a weird premise. What a mistake!

I experienced the BSG universe only through the new redoing. It blew my mind. I loved the darkness, the losses, tragedies, deaths, suffering, blood, guts. This was the first time that something was real, raw, hard, bloody, ruthless. It was all about survival for a species faced with total annihilation form a supremely-powerful enemy that knew you too well. Each death hurt, each tragedy was personal, every plot twist was a surprise.

Ignoring some of the vacuum-dynamics (aerodynamics without the aero), all is awesome. Graphics have not been outdone by time. You live the space battles, get the brain wired with weird manoeuvres, die with every killed pilot and move your head when space debris comes your way. It is real (unlike the “Gravity” bull…).

I find myself torn between the characters, wanting to be each one and then pondering their (mine?) choices. Would I have been as tough as Odama, making the deadly decisions resulting in so much death? Would I be as rebellious as Apollo in going against the norms and standardised expectations? Could I be so two-faced as Sy? What would I do as the President (whichever)? How many times would my decisions have led to more people dying or when would I have been much tougher (less humane) than them? This show is about power – its ultimate applications that take individuals to their gory deaths but assure the survival of the species. This is absolute power and politics and war.

As an economist, you get scared about their resources, consumption and human issues. As a technologist you get headaches considering the issues of space travel and maintaining their technological base. As a sociologist… of My God!!! Panoptic principles, Stockholm syndrome, etc etc etc etc…. etc. In one place you have inter-species conflict, genocide (and its psychological results), terrorism, kidnapping, murder, sacrifice, suffering, weak-becoming-strong, strong cracking under pressure, leaders emerging from nowhere, population needing new babies, abortion, religion, mafia, money, food, slavery… and sooooooo much more.

Drop on top the God component and you have a mind-blowing experience. How do you fight, defend and survive, when everything was predefined thousands of years ago, gods planned your every move and they do not care about you, as you are a cog in the machine. Question to BSG freaks: was Starbuck real in the second half of 4th season? Or was she sixth-sensed?

BSG is biblical. All the weird and unbelievable things in world religions are there. Blind faith, crazies being sanctified, sects emerging, people dying for their beliefs, unstoppable enemies, failures and resurrections and invisible gods who planned everything eons ago and now sat back to watch the show.
Put me into a bathtub filled with white goo, and… “JUUUUUUUUUUUMP”

So Say We All.
ENJOY the BSG universe

Masters degrees – choose correctly

For Bachelor students on their final years, the Masters stage becomes an important stepping stone to a good career. Of course, as with everything in life, the Masters degree stage has its own challenges, opportunities, costs and benefits. As such it should be analysed and planned carefully.

The main decision components are:
1. Definition of quality.
Quality is not the holy grail of education, as no one knows what it really MEANS. Definitions are offered that suit those that provide those very definitions. So each person must define for themselves what they understand to be a “quality education”:
– Overall prestige of the institution. Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, MIT. Names that assure immediate amazing careers. Or an institution in each country that everyone knows, fears, respects. A good guide is the Times Higher Education Ranking.
– Narrow prestige (reputation) for something very specific, showing leadership in that narrow area. Finance? Wharton. Luxury goods? Monacco.
– Knowledge passed in class. Top specialists in their fields, advertised on the university websites (good universities have nothing to hide!) with extensive CVs, top publications, senior positions in business or government. Professors with international reputations, authors of books used in universities around the world, scientists with publications in top international journals, people employed by top “think tanks”, etc.
– Contact with the business world (or diplomatic or administrative or technological) – are the teachers in corporate employment, or were they senior directors of departments? Ex-Minister teaching a course, Diplomats, CEOs, etc. Can they teach by giving their real-life examples? Can the teachers be useful later, as business or job contacts?
– Market-perceived quality, measured by speed and level of graduate employment after programme, the competition for graduates among companies, speed of advancement.
– Strong networking, both in terms of the contacts that you will make during your studies (your classmates will go far and high, so they will useful) as well as the strength of the Alumni Office, managing the alumni mafia, which loves to employ later graduates of its OWN university.

2. The trade-off between price and “quality”.
Whatever you define as quality, it will cost you. Top universities are expensive because… they can charge those prices. Ferrari will not lower its price. Nor will Harvard. In USA and Europe many universities advertise their programmes by showing how much money their alumni earn. MBA schools show how much MORE you will make after their MBA. Understood?
As soon as you define, which outcomes are important for you, compare them to the fees that you will be required to pay. Consider the fees, especially when you are a non-EU or non-US student planning to go there – they will charge you more (that is their business model).
If you have no money and want to do a Masters degree cheaply, do not expect any good outcomes. You will get your piece of paper. If you need a Masters only to tick a box on your application, then the cheap programme is for you. But at some point, someone might need some knowledge from you, and … you will not have it. Nor any useful skills.
Consider loans or scholarships – have someone else take the financial burden of your studies, so that you can repay it over time, while already having a well-paying job.

3. Time/speed.
In the world there exist two main modes of education: full-time (Monday-Friday), and part-time (weekends), with part-time usually taking longer to complete, as the hours are spread over less contact days. Europe is all about Bologna, and 90% of Masters programmes last 2 years. UK is sabotaging Bologna and still offering a one year Masters. Full-time means little opportunity to work, while if you need to work to pay for you programme then part-time is the solution, but you may have visa issues.
Masters programmes will be either:
– Low on content, to fit it into a one year stretch;
– Very intensive to fit everything into a short time (then you cannot work);
– Longer-lasting, to provide all the courses you need;
Every option has trade-offs. Fast = shorter time to start work. Longer = more knowledge. Intensive = no time for anything else. Easy/shallow = only get diploma (no real knowledge).

4. Selection of correct specialisation.
We assume that you have, at least, decided on the rough area of knowledge that you need, for example Finance.
The next step is to identify what you want, need, or think will be useful. You can pursue:
– Very broad education, in the general field of “Finance”, with some core courses (set by the university, required) and choose what you like or find interesting through elective subjects;
– A very narrow specialisation, with very deep courses providing you with cutting-edge knowledge, skills and understanding;
Those pursuing the first type, will want a career in “general” finance, from staffing cash registers, through assisting stock traders, to doing analysis in a bank. A job awaits anywhere. An average job. Those pursuing the second, narrow type, will gain employment in appropriate institutions, and probably get it faster, earn more and get promoted faster. In narrow specialisations, the level of competition is higher as people are more focused and they contribute stronger KPIs.
As in all these analyses, the message is clear – decide where you want to work and pursue that with determination!

5. Home or abroad.
Highest quality is located in only a few countries – most of you do not live in them. Remember, quality comes at a price, so make sure you can afford it.
Going abroad has its costs – financial expenditures (tuition, flights, living expenses), stress for yourself, family and friends, lost relationships, traumas, visa problems, travel problems, risk of sicknesses, etc.
But studying abroad offers amazing opportunities (alongside the advanced knowledge) – about this I will write in the future. For now, we can state that foreign degrees from good countries are more valuable in the heated battle for top jobs.
If you cannot find funds for study abroad, spend money on a top local university. And consider the opportunities outlined below (a second, better, foreign degree later, a few years into your career).

6. Immediately or not?
Rushing into a Masters degree immediately after your Bachelor is only one option available to all. In reality, you can:
– Finish the Bachelor and go to work, get the job, get yourself sorted out, gain the first real-life experiences. Then, after a year or two, take the Masters and do it alongside your work, adding the second degree title to your now-interesting CV;
– Finish the Bachelor and never do a Masters degree, as your career might not require further formal qualifications;
– Take the Masters immediately after Bachelor, “get education over with”;
The last option has some subcomponent issues. Rushing into a Masters might seem simple, you get a “MA” tick on your CV, but it could be a mistake – you should think about what you really need and want. Maybe a delayed Masters, once you get some money, will be better (it will help your career)? Or, maybe, after 2-3 years of work, you will see an opportunity in something that needs a Masters degree, and THEN, you do one, a correct one? For example, you did finance, but then you see the market need for forensic accountants?
Overall, the biggest danger to delayed Masters is that you will not want to go back to university, so many people “rush through” that second stage of education. In essence they waste time and money.

So, to finish off – a Masters degree should make sense, as part of your overall life/work strategy. If that is the case, then you already know: where, when, how, why you will do the Masters. Otherwise, do any masters immediately, to have the “MA/MSc” title by your name, or WAIT. Wait until you know what you need to do.
Follow your plan! Do not leave anything to chance!

Graduate careers – a critical perspective

Universities insist that they are providing students with the best education that is perfectly integrated with the needs of the labour market. This, in theory, should lead to 100% employability of graduates, immediately upon receiving their valuable piece of paper.

Looking at the people in different subjects, each one with an ambition to become the top dog in their field, it is clear that students should not rely on the promises of universities claiming to have the secret to immediate career success, nor depend on university career offices to find them the perfect job. A person’s success is a combination of luck and own career management. Depending on others leads you to an unemployment benefit line.

Students – plan and manage your own careers! NO ONE else will do that.

Otherwise, you will be swallowed by the tide of identical graduates, finishing your programme, your university, the same programme in dozens of other universities. Thousands of clones are pushed onto the labour market each year.

How to succeed – what is a good graduate career?

  1. Plan your career for the next 5-10 years.

University is not a period of life, after which comes “something else”. University is a stepping stone for the next 10 years of your career. You will have received the knowledge and skills (and degree certifying to that fact), from which you should step into full-time employment, preferably in an area related to what you’ve just studied.

I ignore useless people who moan that “they don’t know what they want to do”, as those people are wasting everyone’s time, efforts and the financial resources of family or government.

Good people, intelligent people, will have a good idea where they want to go, what they want to do.

Build a secret plan.

University (Bachelor) => Graduation => First full-time job, early experience, getting the first employer onto your CV => experience working + understanding real people (and crazy bosses) => Masters (part-time not to lose work?) => Second job or sizeable promotion within original organisation =>First mortgage … Etc.

Follow the plan.

Figure out what happens in the industry that you want to work in, what are the trends, where is the cool work, where do people earn or make money, who the powerful people are. And then, plan yourself pursuing that.

Develop alternatives in your plan. Be ready for changes – in your first few years OTHER PEOPLE will make decisions about you, so you always have to be ready for good and bad decisions made by THEM about YOU.

  1. Be aware of important trends.
  • Statistics are your enemy – every year thousands of identical students graduate and go looking for the same jobs.
  • Degree inflation – the value of lower degrees or qualifications is diminishing, as (see above) thousands graduate each year in each discipline. Soon, every cleaner or security guard will have a Bachelor (and a Bachelor in “ochrana”, that are offered, for example in Poland ;p).
  • Competency inflation – 2 languages are the norm, as are three. Four or five are desirable. You know Word? LOL – How about Visual Basic for Excel? Driving licence? Maybe a tank driving licence is still unique…
  1. Decide on the final outcomes of your education.

Be aware that there is a trade-off between quality/prestige and price. If you want to get your higher education done easily and cheaply, do not expect good jobs afterwards. There is a reason why top companies/organisations hire form best universities. Quality education = a lot of knowledge. But then, quality education = $$$$$$$$.

The chances of getting an amazing job with a bad education are remote – you would have to find an employer who does not understand the low value of your diploma and then, after appointment you still have to show your unique skills (if you have them). This combination of luck is unlikely.

If you did a low quality Bachelor, then jump in quality/prestige for the Masters. Bad Masters? Do another one in a better university. Hell, go abroad.

  1. Don’t waste time – differentiate yourself.

With thousands of clones graduating each year, you are among them, lost in the crowd. Everyone has the same degree title, similar GPA, even identical subjects on their transcripts. During your studies, pursue additional differentiating factors:

  • Learn more languages (with certificates, proving your skills – just not IELTS);
  • Gain additional qualifications/certificates, both at university and outside;
  • Work experience BEYOND what is required towards the degree (holiday work, part time work around classes, even full-time work integrated with classes) – anything to show to a potential employer that you are a “real employee with experience”;
  • International mobility (exchange) for a semester, to show intercultural and international experience and competencies (or even multiple exchange semesters in different countries, as is increasingly the norm in Europe) – show that you can live and study abroad, that you can deal with foreign cultures, languages, institutions, laws and people;
  • International double-degrees (or triple, if you can get them), where you gain a second degree while studying for a year or two at the foreign partner university – if possible seek programmes that award DIFFERENT degrees, enhancing your value to a potential employer;
  • Research towards your future career – write a dissertation on a topic that will show your future employer your interests, competencies or ambitions;
  • Take courses or gain skills towards your future career (all degrees allow for electives, or take additional courses/credits);
  • Get involved in projects outside of classes that will enhance your experiences, show your organisational skills, people skills;
  • Start projects, that will show your innovativeness and entrepreneurialism;
  • Attend conferences, events, to gain certificates, see what really goes on and, maybe/hopefully, pick up contacts of useful people, whom you can later contact about work/projects/opportunities;

 

And then, your CV will be INTERESTING to an employer, who will see a young person of above-average competencies, experiences, someone to whom a job offer MUST BE MADE.

You could argue that the lazy ones will get jobs too, but their chances are much smaller, as they are all IDENTICAL. You could argue that some weak graduates will get jobs because of family contacts – although true in some cases, understand that most employers need GOOD people (not children-of-friends), and will in many cases opt for the QUALIFIED CANDIDATE – you.

And after getting the job, you start on the SECOND challenge – developing your career ;p