The USC Bovard College Experience Through the Lens of MSHRM International Graduate Christos Stambolidis

Photo: Christos Stambolidis

The online master’s student experience at USC Bovard College looks a bit different for everyone, especially if you’re located outside of the United States. Between the time difference, potential language barriers, and social and cultural viewpoints, the international student experience presents some unique challenges.

Christos Stambolidis is a recent Master of Science in Human Resource Management graduate who completed the program while living in Athens, Greece. “Following the personal and professional growth that I went through while completing the program, I’d describe my experience as transformative, inspirational and diverse,” he says.

Speaking with him, we learned what made his experience at USC Bovard College rewarding and his hope for other prospective international students considering an advanced degree from USC.

A Desire for Professional Growth

Deciding to pursue a master’s degree is a huge decision. Oftentimes, students’ prior work experiences fuel their motivation for an advanced degree. This was the case for Christos. He was working in the hospitality and tourism sector, and described his experience as less than acceptable. Not only was he overworked, but the conditions were poor, and his wages were low. He also explained that the “lack of focus on the ‘people’ part of an organization shaped and motivated me to go into the field of HR.” Though he didn’t initially pursue a career in HR, he knew that professionally, he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and their working environments.

At the time, Christos and his wife had plans to move to the U.S. with hopes that new doors would open professionally. When it came time to apply for programs, he feared receiving admissions decisions. He even applied to eight different schools to increase his chances of pursuing an advanced degree in the United States. With a “yes” from USC, he realized it was the right choice because of the quality of education, the university’s reputation, and the degree’s value.

What Set USC Apart 

When asked what made his experience in the MSHRM program worthwhile, Christos emphasized the value of the live sessions, the connections with his peers, and applied learning. “[The live sessions] provided a huge opportunity to connect with people already working in some of the largest and most successful corporate organizations such as Meta, Google, Amazon, Lululemon, and more,” he said. “What made it different from other online environments that I had previously been a part of, either for educational or professional purposes, was that everyone was really interested to learn and actively engaged in discussions.”

He also touched on what he considered to be the most valuable aspect of the program—the connections made with the professors and other students. “The friendliness and interconnectedness are what I truly loved about the Trojan culture and the entire USC experience.”

In preparation for the next step of his career, Christos utilized the applied learning aspect to exhibit his growing knowledge and skillset of the field. He added, “[An MSHRM] definitely gives you a leg up when talking to employers to explain your experiences and showcase your expertise.” 

The Inevitable Challenges

Attending the live class sessions from Greece was challenging for Christos. He remained committed and joined the classes twice a week, from 2:00 – 4:00 a.m., for one year. “The will and desire to make something out of my life definitely pushed me to get up in the middle of the night and be fully engaged,” he said. 

Like many students in the program, Christos was juggling classes and personal commitments. He was also completing another degree program focused on organizational psychology. It took a lot of hours and dedication, but if he could go back and do it again, he would.

Career Advancement Post-MSHRM

The ultimate goal for most students after receiving their master’s degree is advancing in the workforce – whether it’s in the form of a more competitive skillset or simply climbing up an organization’s ladder. While in the program, Christos made a significant connection that put a positive stamp on his experience at USC Bovard College. At the conclusion of the program, he applied for a recruiter position in Amazon’s EMEA headquarters in Luxembourg. An MSHRM classmate of his referred him for the job. “He even took the time to prep me for interviews throughout the process, and I will be forever grateful for that,” he mentioned. Amazon hired Christos after he completed the program on the 1-year track in December 2022. 

Christos explained that his long-term goal is to work for a company that inspires a long tenure. “I feel that it’s not as common anymore, but I think it’s respectable and commendable for someone to stay loyal to an organization and commit to 25 or 30 years.”

Advice for Prospective International Students

“Don’t be afraid,” Christos says. “Just go for it.” Despite the challenges of the time difference, and balancing classes and his personal life, he made the program work for him. “USC’s program has opened so many doors for me that I didn’t even know existed and proved why the University of Southern California consistently ranks as one of the best schools in the U.S. and globally,” he exclaimed.

Learn more about the MS in Human Resource Management program.

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