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Maxim Borisik on Internship at Gazprom and Work at American IT Company

It is a common practice for HSE – St. Petersburg students to combine studies and work in their senior year. However, often finding a balance between these two activities can be pretty challenging. Maxim Borisik, a third-year student of the educational programme 'Logistics and Supply Chain Management', not only gets good grades but also works for almost nine months at an American IT company. The editorial board asked Maxim how he manages to remain successful in both areas.

Photo from Maxim Borisik's personal archive

Photo from Maxim Borisik's personal archive

How I became a student at HSE – St. Petersburg

Well, first of all, I decided to apply to HSE – St. Petersburg because my Unified state Examination (Russian analogue of the A-level exam) results allowed me to get a state-funded place in the Bachelor’s programme 'Logistics and Supply Chain Management'. Also, my friend studied there and I had a chance to ask her first-hand experience. She said she really enjoyed studying the programme and that it included a lot of career-oriented subjects.

In addition, in the 10th grade, I took preparatory courses at HSE – St. Petersburg to get ready for the Unified State Examination. The classes were often held at the campus on Kantemirovskaya Street, and I really loved its atmosphere, the people who studied there, and the building itself is so modern.

Studying on the programme

The programme offers both compulsory career-oriented and elective courses. For example, there are courses in python, management, and economic statistics which will certainly come in handy in many other areas apart from logistics: big data, business analytics, and consulting. And, as my friend told me, there turned out to be indeed a great bunch of career-oriented courses: Supply Chain Management, Mathematical Methods in Economics, and Models in Logistics, among others.

Classes are usually held in a non-traditional, still highly effective format. On subjects and seminars that fall within business, arts and humanities areas, we study in a case format. That means we split into groups, discuss business cases, and then present our solution to the rest of the class. The perks of this study mode are that you learn how to work quickly and interact with other team members. Besides, it teaches how to defend one’s point of view and give a speech in front of the public.

Among the programme’s subjects, I got especially captivated by accounting, probability theory and a special research seminar with an emphasis on business and marketing (hereinafter referred to as a Research Seminar). We took a course on accounting in the second year: we learned how to make a journal entry, create financial reports, prepare cash flow statement, etc. It seems to me that learning bookkeeping is always relevant and gives a significant advantage over other graduates. For example, there are a lot of audit companies and understanding accounting makes it easier to build a career in this area. Apart from that, our mathematical skills always stayed in good shape – this mostly thanks to the 'Probability Theory' discipline. We often had to pass tests, learn by heart a great number of new terms and formulas. For me, this subject turned out to be a real challenge, which I managed to successfully pass.

The Research Seminar is being held for the third year in a row. From all its modules, I especially remember those two at which we were taught how to scale up and promote a business. These modules were just what I was striving to learn, so I took active participation in the classroom: I took part in seminars, came up with presentations. That was when I was noticed by the Research Seminar's professor Elena Volkova.

Professor Elena Volkova then helped with my personal project, not related to the university. I came up with a startup that would help a small business to get new customers. I wanted to create an application in which a user could see on a map all new cafes and restaurants located near a certain point. So the idea was that each person could find a good-rated place for dining out and having a rest without leaving the house area. I am really thankful to Prof. Volkova for helping me learn how to evaluate the market and calculate the financial indicators of the project.

Student environment and extracurricular activities

I like the student environment at HSE – St.Petersburg: all the guys here are highly motivated, constantly trying something new, and this without a doubt rubs off on you. I made a lot of like-minded friends on the programme, one of them launched a startup, the other is engaged in a cryptocurrency-related project. An awesome company, isn't it?

A big plus of HSE – St. Petersburg for me is that there are a lot of extracurricular activities. I attended the Entrepreneurship Club in my first and second years. At this club, we exchanged business ideas, participated in business games, that is, in small case-based championships. We also attended lectures by speakers who have owned and run businesses for more than twenty years.

The club is run by Sergey Melchenko, who once helped me with a startup idea. He organised a meeting to which he invited his colleagues from other universities and business owners. At the meeting, I spoke about the project, listened to experts' advice. It was a very valuable experience, and after that, I even recorded a podcast.

Extracurricular activities can help get promoted in a career as well: many companies are looking for employees who can come up with an initiative and take on responsibility. Believe me, you will get all that and even more here!

Internship at Gazprom

I came across an internship offer at Gazprom browsing through their Telegram channel. I immediately sent out my resume to their HR department corporate email and an hour later received a response with an invitation to come to their office the next day.

I was asked about my skills and where I had worked before. When it was my turn, I asked what the position consisted of and what kind of direction it was because it was not the main Gazprom branch, but 'Газпром ЦПС' (in English, Gazprom TsPS), the IT department for the digitalization of investment business processes. It was nice that at the end of the interview the staff shared some feedback on my resume and the way my answers could be improved.

As a result, I was invited for an internship. It lasted about five months, and during this time I took part in an IT audit project. I was responsible for checking how efficiently the company uses and works with data. Our department analysed business processes and offered ideas for their improvement.

During my internship, I relied mainly on Excel and Word. I already had good Excel knowledge thanks to economic statistics and operational management taught at HSE. Special thanks to Alexander Mayevsky for teaching me these skills! In the IT audit, I worked in a team of six or seven people, so the teamwork experience that I gained at the seminars came in handy.

Working at Intermedia

It is almost nine months since I have been working at Intermedia, an American IT company that makes cloud communication software. We have a fairly large range of products: Internet telephony, integration with CRM, an online call centre, and one of the services that could compete with such a cloud communication giant as Zoom.

I got into the company through an internship in project management, which I found on the HeadHunter website. The internship lasted three months, and I did well with it, so I was offered a position in the company. Of course, I jumped at this chance.

I am currently working as a junior project manager. My responsibilities include: prioritising tasks for the development team, leading the product launch process, writing business requirements, and communicating with other teams.

One thing that shocked me at first was that I had to assign tasks for myself and that I was free to arrange my working day. Then I got used to it and now I feel it was a great experience because it helps recent graduates to learn new things faster, taking on responsibility.

Work-study-life balance

The most important thing is to manage your time wisely – not to procrastinate, devote sufficient time to each task.

You also need to be able to find a common language with others. I sometimes need to ask the team manager or colleagues to postpone meetings. I know that if I explain the situation, they will not refuse.

Also, it is important to learn how to take a rest. Just a quick walk with a family member or meeting with friends can do great to release the stress, at least this always works for me. Just never forget to give yourself some time off!

Interview Hacks

Going through more than fifteen interviews I've figured out the best way to talk about myself and my experience in front of potential employers. Here is just a quick breakdown of things I’ve learned:

Firstly, it is probably impossible to get rid of anxiety completely. This is a natural process, and you should not be afraid of it, you just need to take control of it.

Secondly, as with other things in our life, perfection comes with practice. The more often you go to job interviews, the easier it becomes to pass them. Therefore, I advise you to go to interviews even in those companies in which you don’t really want to work. This will teach you how to communicate with the HR department and other people involved in the recruitment process.

Thirdly, it is worth preparing a short story about yourself in advance, mentioning your successes. You will be asked this cliche question at nearly every interview, so getting prepared beforehand will make you feel more confident.

Fourthly, never forget that student internships teach how to communicate with people and work in a team. So don’t be afraid to talk about your skills and accomplishments — sincerity is always the best strategy to win people's hearts! After all, the reason you apply for an internship is to get those missing skills.