Employment after Graduation: A Manual for Students from Graduates
Sooner or later, every student faces the problem of employment. Sometimes even the most purposeful and motivated people may find themselves in a situation, where there are no special working places for a particular person with an exact set of skills, but a variety of opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and experience gained at the university. We’ve conducted an interview with Alexander Bertov, our graduate of 2017, who shares his experience in getting job after the university.
Tell about yourself: what did you find interesting about Political Science and what did you do apart from the studies?
“I graduated from HSE last year. Somebody mightthink that finishing the university will change everything, it’s like the beginning of a new era - adulthood. I did not feel anything like that. Everything was the same, although it was unnecessary to go to the university then, so we could go camping in the woods.
During my first and second years of study I was really engaged in the debate club. Honestly, it was even more useful than lectures and seminars during of all 4 years. There I learned how to structure my thoughts and ask right questions. Perhaps it is one of the most useful instruments of self-development.
If you ask about my academic interests, I can say that I am one of those guys who never know what they exactly want. I wrote all of my term papers and final qualification workswith different supervisors. There is nothing horrible in it. Don’t be afraid if you want to change your topic or a supervisor. At the end of my study I was into Economics and prepared my BA thesis on banking crises.
I was planning to enter European University at St. Petersburg for a MA program on Financial Economics, reading a lot and studying mathematics. You can learn everything if you have 3 months, so do not be afraid of trying something new, for example, entering the Master’s programme on another specialization that is loosely connected to your previous one. However, the situation with the university was complicated and until the end of October nothing was clear. Eventually, something went wrong. You probably know it as well as I do.
How did the process of your employment look like? And what played an important role?
Generally, acquaintances matter a lot. If I am not mistaken it is called «horizontal communication» and social capital. It’s very important. Meritocracy is an interesting concept, but it doesn’t always work.
I literally wrote to my acquaintance something like: “Do you or your friends have a vacancy for a «smart guy»?” Within a week it appeared that the Administration of Moscovsky District needs such a person.
I came to a job interview with the Deputy Head of Administration. While we were talking, I understood once again what Political Science does matter in the real world. When our discussion turned to the citizen participation and people’s involvement in political processes, I almost started to speak about types of political culture by Almond and Verba. When we began discussing problems of communication between governmental levels and different institutions, I was thinking about principal-agent problem and models of control: fire-alarm and police patrol. And it’s cool.
Once Dr. Starodubtsev and I made the seminar, searching for political concepts and theories in journalistic texts. This was very useful. If you can look at things this way, you will be able to propose adequate solutions for existing problems. That is how it works. Firstly, you take an abstraction, a theory, and find out what the core problem is. Then you adjust common logic to current circumstances. After the interview the Deputy Head of Administration said that the vacancy is mine. That is how I became a public servant.
The next day one of my colleagues shared with me that she had read Max Weber and Acemoglu & Robinson. And that was also cool.
Right now I’m the press secretary of the District department. My duties include attending local events, publishing news on the Administration’s website and in local newspapers, administrating of the group in VKontakte. Sometimes I take interviews, communicate with the media. Also I frequently go to the attics and basements of different houses. I can tell you anything about hot water supply in your building or how many cubic meters of snow can fit into a KAMAZ truck.
Can you give a few tips for our future graduates?
Develop your skills. If you can do something, for example, design a webpage or create an Android app, that is splendid, have experience of managing real projects – even better. I want to mention social capital once more. Accumulate connections and build reputation of a reliable person, who can learn fast, if he or she does not know something. People should trust you.
Everything will be great!
P.S. Artem Vorobiev and I invite you to join our project team on Russian regions. We want to continue the development of the informational portal. We need people who would like to collect and process data, take interviews and film videos. We need people who will be ready for searching the news and publishing them, we also need authors of analytical articles. This project was born on our fourth year of studying and we want it to prosper.