4. December 2014 Jonáš Jelínek

Business and studies

Before I embark on detailing the novelties and challenges of my third year in St Andrews, I will go back to my summer briefly describing my experience.

I spent a great deal of time preparing my summer – I would spend it on an entrepreneurial programme in a developing country, helping local entrepreneurs grow their businesses. I had been accepted to the programme and everything was on track until I discovered that one compulsory preparatory session collided with one of my exams, resulting in a shift of my departure date which meant I would not return back to St Andrews in time for my third year, effectively preventing me from participating. Upon arriving to Prague in May, I was thus clueless about what I was going to do for my summer – a rather unpleasant situation.

I was lucky enough to quickly secure an internship in a London specialist political and security consultancy which I had been involved in since October 2013 writing regular reports on Somaliland and Tanzania as a country analyst. Interning in Frontier Horizons enabled me to extend the breadth of my knowledge of particular countries in Africa as well as my research and analytical skills. Throughout my time in Frontier, I witnessed the nexus of the academic side of international relations and their real business use. I got my hands on researching issues in several countries, daily reporting, business development activities and detailed political and economic analysis. The relatively small size of the company resulted in close contact between me and the director which made me feel like my work was appreciated and worked with.

Thanks to The Kellner Family Foundation, I managed to secure a place in Sotio, a biotechnology company researching immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. This is a uniquely pioneering effort within the Czech Republic for running such an enterprise requires significant investments and certain levels of scientific research. Being part of such a company, albeit for a little while, felt like contributing to something with life-changing potential. Given my background, I was not able to join the scientific team, but I worked as a Junior Analyst in the Strategy and Business Development Department. Before I started making contributions to the Strategy team, I had a few days to absorb the necessary knowledge regarding Sotio’s research and biotechnology in general. Initially swamped under a myriad of scientific papers, I gradually started making sense of the new and incredibly interesting world around me. After conducting some tax-related analysis for the financial department, I started working on my own analytical overview of the Middle East pharmaceutical market. Even though I was only an intern, I got treated very well with full support from everyone. When I recall my experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the previous year, these two cannot really be compared.

After returning to St Andrews, I immediately made use of some of the experience I gained throughout summer and devoted myself fully to developing my own business which I had started in my second year. My sushi-delivery business has now expanded and we operate a fully-fledged retail from the heart of St Andrews on Market Street. Due to the immense difficulties of combining running my business and studies, I gave up on all my other activities.

Academically, I am in Honours continuing my degree in International Relations and Arabic. The workload has increased, but it is manageable. There are two modules in Arabic – Media Arabic and Short Stories; while Media is more contemporary and focused on the language, Short Stories are very literature-based. In International Relations, I have one module - Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Interventions which revolves around the UN and its peacekeeping efforts.

That is all for now. I will try bringing some more insights into the academic side of St Andrews in my next post.

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