Polya has a successful career as an international project manager and a marketing expert. She has a university degree in Marketing and Business Administration and has a flair for graphic design and photography. Our exchanges with her reveal what role her internships abroad and international experience played in her professional and personal development. Her story can help you prepare to make the most of graduate studies and enjoy a rewarding career.
When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer because of my acute sense of justice. I thought that by becoming a lawyer I could contribute to the creation of a fairer world. However, I took another professional path when I grew up and this remained a dream.
What is your career dream now?
I would like to find a cause to work for. I want to know that what I do matters and that my everyday work is dedicated to a certain cause. For me, believing in what I do is more important than the career itself.
What do you like most in your career so far?
Mostly the international experience and the lessons learnt. Thanks to my job I had the chance to visit places that I have never believed I would be able to see and to work and learn from amazing professionals from different cultures. This has enriched me immensely as a person and expanded my horizons. My professional experience turned me from a mere dreamer into a person who realises that dreams can actually come true if you put in effort and hard work. I learnt how to be patient and not to accept ’no’ as an answer. I learnt that I can overcome myself and find a solution to every problem; it’s just a question of finding the right tools.
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When did you actually start working and gaining professional experience?
During my first year at university I started working in the marketing department at an engineering firm, which allowed me to gain practical experience in addition to the lectures. A year later I took a graphic designer job, which combined well with my marketing experience. I was very happy that my hobby was able to pay for my education and also cover my living expenses.
After my graduation I started looking for internships abroad because it was important for me to start gaining international experience. I took an internship with AIESEC, an international student-run organisation based in Rotterdam. It sent me to Italy, where I worked at University of Genoa as part of a team that organised events designed to advise new graduates on their career paths. I was involved in different marketing activities, the creation of visual identity and generally the whole organisation of events.
Still eager for international experience, I then took a second internship, again with AIESEC. This time I ended up in Malaga, Spain, in a hostel which I was supposed to promote. My job consisted of marketing, website updating, and registering the hostel with the most popular booking websites such as booking.com and tripadvisor.com, which involved negotiations, dealing with documentation, and establishing partnerships. The internship was supposed to run for six months but the management of the hostel liked my work and extended my stay by six months.
Eventually, despite my love for Spain, I realised that I wanted to apply what I had learnt abroad in my home country, because home was where my heart was.
How did you apply for these internships? What were the requirements and the application process?
The application process was really easy. The AIESEC system gives you access to different internships around the world which you can directly apply to. It’s all about what your interests and dreams are. The work conditions are indicated in the offers.
Will you encourage students to get internships and why?
Yes, definitely. I would encourage them to look for internships in foreign countries because this will accelerate their personal and professional development. This is the way to really grow. Even though an internship can be tough and low-paid, it’s totally worth it. Internships abroad literally teach you how to survive, hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, family and friends. You will have to adapt to a new environment and culture, and at the same time excel at work. All this helps to grow in every aspect and you start believing in yourself more.
How did you end up in Advent Group?
Once I realised that I wanted to return to Bulgaria, I had the chance to find a truly interesting and fulfilling job which further enabled me to satisfy my adventurous spirit. I joined the AccessMBA team as an International Project Manager organising educational events all over the world. I learnt the art of negotiation and also improved my perseverance. I travelled a lot – for several years I spent more time in airplanes than in any other form of transport. I could pack my entire wardrobe into a suitcase. I have visited more than 30 countries and learnt that being in Moscow on Monday, in Beirut on Tuesday, in Mexico City on Friday and in Los Angeles over the weekend can be just a normal part of your week. I was lucky to find this unique workplace where I met great individuals who share my love for travel and adventure. I am truly grateful for the experiences, the lessons learnt and the lifelong friendships I created here.
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