'Ask the Right Questions—It Will Help You Find Yourself'
We talked to Anastasia Telichko, a 2022 graduate of HSE University-St Petersburg. Anastasia completed the Bachelor's programme 'International Business and Management Studies' (from 2022, the updated programme is implemented as the ‘International Bachelor's in Business and Economics’). Anastasia is now open to new experiences while developing her career in the government of Primorsky Krai, where she is engaged in sustainable development issues. In this article, read about her memories of her studies, a trip under the exchange programme, and the very useful skill of asking yourself questions.
— What does the Alumni Community mean to you? What is it like to be an HSE graduate?
— When we talk about university life, we usually think that it is temporary: you finish your studies and start working. But often in the course of work, you face situations when you need expert support or even people for your team to start your own business. That is why it is always important to become a full-fledged part of the process. In this sense, a graduate is someone who keeps in touch with people who are similarly active. A successful graduate falls out of the 'race', but keeps the student spirit and a desire to dig deeper, search for information. Self-education is extremely important, so I would call myself a 'lifelong student'.
— You took part in an exchange programme. What memories and feelings do you have about such an unforgettable adventure?
— The American programme I participated in is called a 'Year Foundation Program'. It is available for students under 20–21 years of age. As this programme was independent, I was also able to apply for the mobility programmes at HSE University. I tried to do it twice. I failed in my first year of studies. Due to the pandemic, the American programme was postponed until the fourth year, and my exchange programme in Japan was also scheduled for this time. There were some specifics related to the curriculum, as all the double classes in the fourth year at HSE University were planned for the first semester. I spread my efforts, made up the timetable, and went to the USA. At the same time, I had an opportunity to study in Italy, Japan and the USA. I can single out some differences, but there are very few of them. Everywhere, they put a great emphasis on self-education. Lecturers devote very little time to students. Preliminary preparation and independent study of the material is a very important component of learning. As for the universities' infrastructure, HSE University is definitely on the same level as foreign educational institutions. After the trip to the USA, I realised that it was very useful to find a role model and go to a certain professor or research group at a university. Interest must arise from personal requests. Moreover, in my opinion, there is more freedom in the choice of courses: you build your own curriculum without compulsory blocks; our system of credits is partially similar. In Japan, they put more emphasis on teamwork, strict deadlines and reports.
― Was it hard to study well at such a tempo?
— Many people told me that it looked like I was only travelling and not studying. To that, I always said that it only seemed so. It is much more interesting to share your impressions of a trip and new places than to simply talk about the educational process, though I talked about that a lot as well. Do not be afraid to combine studies and travelling. If you do it consciously, you will be able to find time for everything.
— Have you got any life-hacks about how to maintain a work-life balance?
— You should understand that you don’t always have to like everything you do. And if you are thinking about postponing some tasks, it is useful to analyse what helpful things you can get out of it. It is essential to get in the right mindset and find useful and interesting aspects in routine tasks. Also, you shouldn't spread yourself too thin and overload yourself with various areas of focus. Obviously, it is important to try something new, but it is a common mistake of first-years to fall for the FOMO effect. People get burned out because of it, feel stressed and tired, do not have time for everything and do not finish things. You can spend several hours planning, analysing the risks and predicting the results of your work. It is not nerdy to write down your plan and structure the tasks. Of course, there might be some unpredictable tasks, but they teach you to think critically and act in unforeseen circumstances. If you make a mistake, it is a chance to learn a lesson and gain a new experience. Do not get upset if your boss says that you performed a task badly. Quite the opposite—you should thank them and ask for reasonable criticism to understand how to do better. Good and effective time-management may influence your job satisfaction. When everything goes smoothly, it might be boring (laughs).
— You act very reasonably and are moving towards your goal. You also seem to understand what you want to achieve in terms of personal development.
— It is truly important. In the first years of studies, people usually postpone such thoughts, believing that certain goals and desires will appear later. But you should work on it, sit and try to find something! You should realise what you like and what gives you pleasant feelings. Goal-setting is important both in the short and long run. Of course, you can calculate your whole career path, but later, once you have achieved everything, you may understand that it is not what you really want.
— What are you doing now, working in Vladivostok?
— I am in the middle of the employment process at the government of Primorsky Krai, where I will engage in sustainable development: charging stations, transport, green standards and strategy. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but to solve current problems in the city using new trends. Now, I am trying to fill in strategic gaps, create road maps, and find the expert base. Specific tasks appear out of current demand. Recently, for example, I had to form a long list of experts who would be able to monitor the climate situation in the city. I arrived at the conclusion that each manager had to be a bit of an HR manager and a psychologist, as well as understand the financial and business aspects.
— Are you planning to apply for a Master's programme?
— Yes, I am. But in a year, after I have worked for some time and understood which hard skills I lack. For instance, I might study something related to finance, analytics, advanced mathematics, or choose a more specialised track. It is nice when you can do a job that somebody else can't. That's why I might consider specialising in energetics, chemistry, genetics or biology.
— What do you want your life to be like in five years?
— I will turn 26, and I hope I will be surrounded by people I feel good with and doing a job I enjoy. Not forcing myself to do anything, but if it is necessary, letting it make me happier in the end anyway, to gain inner peace and satisfaction. I want to be a specialist and a professional in my field.
— What advice would you give students reading this?
— Some pieces of advice might be good, but not very effective. You should ask the right questions: 'What do I want?', 'Where and with whom do I want to be?', 'What do I want to do?' That will help you find yourself.