Breaking Stereotypes about "Silly Humanitarians"

Alexandra Tavrovskaya interviews four successful graduates and students of the HSE School of Foreign Languages.

Breaking Stereotypes about "Silly Humanitarians"

Photo by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

There is a stereotype that the exact and natural sciences are perceived by people as complex, logical, and based on real facts. Whereas the humanitarian sciences are sometimes seen as vaguer, and less prestigious. The knowledge of its adherents is underestimated. Moreover, the stereotype about the difficulty of finding a decent job for humanitarian students also exists. In this interview, these stereotypes will be broken thanks to our students and graduates.

– Sophia, could you, please, tell us about your education and what job you currently have?

Yes, good evening! I am Sophia Medvedeva and this year I graduated from the Higher School of Economics, in the program «Foreign languages​​ and intercultural communication». I received my diploma and a few weeks later I opened my own business, my foreign language studio "Lingua Franca" in the town near Moscow where I grew up.

– Wow, very impressive! Was it a spontaneous idea?

Not really. The desire to open my own business in the field of education haunted me almost from the very beginning of my studies at our university. In the first year, I felt that my English had improved significantly thanks to the HSE professors. So, I decided to use this knowledge in my own way. I started teaching English.

Later, in the third year, we had a choice of specialization. Without hesitation, I have chosen «The methodologies of teaching foreign languages». I was inspired by every lecture by Elena Sergeevna Lutkova, I found a lot of useful information that I used during my lessons.

– Are you still teaching?

Yes, now I continue to teach, but I am more focused on my language school. 

– Excellent. Tell us, please, did HSE greatly influence you in terms of your career? Maybe you want to give a piece of advice to future professionals.

I am grateful to the HSE teachers for the experience and knowledge I received. I want to tell every student of our university to listen to their hearts because it is the only right path in choosing your work. After all, as Confucius said: «Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life».

The next interviewee is Polina Bashkireva.

Polina, as far as I know, you have graduated with a degree in translation.

– Yes. When I was a sophomore, the path of a translator seemed to be the best of all choices, so I opted for «Translation studies» and crammed the languages devotedly; but, while studying for two more years, I realized that the post-editing of texts turned out to be more exciting for me than the translation itself. 

It's very exciting how your interest in the study of texts was developing. And now, what is your professional activity connected with?

– After the CV was finished and uploaded on, it took me about a week to find an optimal place to stay for a while: my first official post is the one of a proofreader at the media holding. My duty is to search for any type of mistakes and misspellings in order to ensure that the text is error-free. I adore deeply any type of work with texts, and the process of grinding and polishing the phrases until they are all perfectly shiny and ready for publication makes me feel that I am at the right place.

How important was the university's contribution to your decision?

– You know, at the beginning of the bachelor's program I was fully unaware of my future professional activity and in which field it will unfold. But, thanks to the Higher School of Economics, it was feasible to try a little bit of this and that, to participate in diverse activities, to make mistakes, and to learn from them. Finally, I managed to find something that enthralled me. It is hard to guess one’s forthcoming perspectives in our turbulent present moment, but hopefully, I found my destination for the next couple of years. I really am grateful to the professors of my alma mater: their efforts were not in vain, as well as mine. 

These are very wise thoughts. You don't have to limit yourself to one area. Finally, what can you wish for university graduates?

– I wish all of you, whoever reads these lines, to find your own path, pursue your endeavors, and look attentively at your elective courses, minor programs, and extracurricular activities: it might be that the professional direction of your dreams is lost somewhere in the list of the auxiliary courses. 

Let’s continue with Alexandra Kudashova.

Sasha, what is your profession, and what was the reason for choosing your career path?

– The choice of my profession directly depended on the Higher School of Economics, since it was the university that provided me with an internship in the place where I am now officially employed. In my bachelor’s degree, I highly concentrated on theory and practice in the sphere of teaching foreign languages. Later, I clearly realized for myself that I want to work as a teacher.

Could you tell us a few words about your internship? Your feelings and impressions?

– The internship at Moscow school No. 1253 highly impressed me, and I did not hesitate to send my CV there after graduation. I was impressed by the teaching staff who showed a great attitude towards us, the interns. This school has a very strong department of foreign languages. English is taught at a very high level, so it was very interesting for me to work in this environment and transmit my knowledge to children! I believe that the Higher School of Economics really produces great specialists with a lot of knowledge that is relevant today. Thanks to the partnership of the Higher School of Economics with major companies, the internship really brings great benefits, involves you in the profession, and helps with further employment.

Thank you so much, Alexandra! Our final question for the interviewees: what can you wish for young people who are just trying to find themselves?

– I would like to wish all students never to give up, not to miss deadlines, and to devote a lot of time to learning foreign languages!

And the last interviewee, but not least - is Aleksandra Polyakova.

Sasha, can you tell me a bit about yourself and your education?

– Of course. I am now completing my master’s degree in the department of foreign languages. I am studying linguistics and intercultural communication.  My specialization is «Linguistic research» and at the moment I am focused on cerebral palsy stereotypes. Why can't I, actually, go deeper into my own disease? But that is another story.

I see. So, are you officially employed now, if so: is it an offline or an online format?

– Yes, I am working now as a research assistant online at HSE and this job wasn't the first in my life. But let me give you a brief introduction first. After admission into the master's program, I restarted my job hunter search though it wasn't successful. The fact is that I got used to living as if I am physically in Moscow even in the case when I am disabled and, actually, have been living in Togliatti. Is it strange in this case to find a Moscow job? How is it possible? Well, after my admission to a state-funded place everything is possible.

How was the idea to go to work as an assistant at the university born? In which discipline exactly do you assist? 

– I just spoke to my peers who are already working as research assistants. It seemed to me an interesting thing to try. After this I wrote to HSE Career, describing my story, and asked about the possibility of working as an assistant distantly. Unfortunately, all professors have already chosen helpers from the students they already know. But according to HSE Career, I had the last chance to try the project «Digital assistant» by Vyshka Digital.

What was the recruitment process like? Was it difficult for you?

– Well, I filled out the application form, and attached my CV with a message, like «I really want to work with you, please, accept my application». A few days later I received the answer: «Hello, we got your application and estimated your motivation. Can we have a video call? ». I mentioned that I am an ex-translator, not an IT specialist, so maybe I am not suitable for this post... «You don't have to be an IT specialist. Take it easy», - they answered

So, the curators called me. After the conversation, I was connected to the educative module with a great deal of theory and many tests. I passed the final exam with 95/100. Having such a good result, I was offered to have a little internship with students who are already working as digital assistants. After all, we had a great time while I was watching how they worked.

What are your responsibilities, how is your working day going on?

– Recently I had my first day as a digital assistant who supports users with the help of a CRM system. For now, I have no mobile calls and use only typed comments to help people. I'm happy to have a job that covers all my needs. I am grateful for a chance to work a part-time paid job without leaving home.

Sasha, you are doing great! Tell me, are you glad you chose HSE as the place to develop your professional skills?

– Of course, I am. To my mind, HSE deals only with talented people who are concentrated on self-development. I am here only for two months but I've already changed much for the better.

Interview by

Alexandra Tavrovskaya