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Story #Alumni

Youngest mayor of Austria with export studies

Proud to be a graduate: Our alumni and their success stories

Bernadette Schöny, a recent graduate of the IMC Krems, has made it. She successfully completed her bachelor degree in "Export-oriented Management" and has been Austria's youngest mayor since February. In the last municipal elections in Kaltenleutgeben (Lower Austria), the successful young politician won the elections and is now, at 27 years of age, the youngest female head of a municipality. In an interview she tells us how she managed to combine her challenging full-time job and her full-time studies, which she successfully completed a few days ago, and what she was able to profit from her studies most.

Fotocredit: Peter Ramberger

Bernadette Schöny is happy about her recently acquired Bachelor degree in "Export-oriented Management" and finds that she is already running out of IMC Krems. Photocredit: Peter Ramberger

Networking with international students is very important to me

"I applied for the bachelor programme in Export-oriented Management because I didn't just want to study economics, but my focus was clearly on the international field, and still is. Having spent some time abroad before, it was essential for me to complete my studies in English. Networking with international students is very important to me and the degree programme was very diverse in that respect.

Teaching contents that I remember particularly positively are actually all "legal subjects". I never really wanted to study law, because this field would have been too dry for me. During my studies, however, the legal contents were explained with a practical focus and not only in theory. Even though I am the mayor of Kaltenleutgeben and act on a municipal level, understanding international agendas is also very important on this level. How to come to an agreement on an international level and what different institutions there are was very helpful for me and I found it very interesting. That is why I decided to specialize in this area. What I really liked about the programme was that it was not just about learning 100 pages of material by heart, but that understanding the content was much more important."

The study helped me to broaden my horizon

"I was able to broadened my horizon not only because I learned a lot for exams, but also through my fellow students, who came from different regions of the world. The world doesn't end at the Austrian border, there's much more to it."

Double burden: full-time job and studying is no walk in the park

"I can't recommend working 40 hours or more outside of college. Although my employer has always been very accommodating in this respect, and I have often worked at weekends, networking with other students has suffered greatly. I was often the last to enter the classroom and the first to leave. Besides, I often had to answer e-mails, which of course affected the attention during the courses. It was really not easy to reconcile work and study. I often had to study late at night for exams because I simply didn't have time during the day.

In the times when it got really stressful, it was actually always touch and go for me, as I wanted to deliver a good performance both at work and at study. Therefore, I bundled all my strength. When it was a little less stressful, I did a lot of things in nature to balance things out. In addition, I always went on holiday and looked at the world.”

I wouldn't want to change my job as mayor

"As mayor, I am not only the representative of my market community, but I am also the building authority of the first instance. Which means that I approve building applications. Although I am not from the building industry, I have an excellent building expert who supports me here with his expertise. Otherwise I chair the meetings of the municipal council and the municipal board. Furthermore, I also have many personal conversations with citizens, and try to help or assist them with their concerns. Every day is different and that is what makes my job so exciting. I do not want to swap!

Since I have always been very committed in the past years, I would like to hold only the office of mayor for some time. All in all, I am always very busy and the next task is already waiting for me, which I will certainly be happy to take on. In the medium-term future I would also like to do a master's degree. Maybe even again at the IMC Krems. I have never regretted studying here, on the contrary. Although I only finished my studies a few weeks ago, I am already starting to miss IMC Krems.”


Many congratulations from the management team of IMC Krems!

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