Having successfully completed the Buddy program this year, Olta’s story is a proof of the power of mentorship. It showcases how much students & graduates, can achieve in such a short amount of time given the accessibility to the right resources, guidance & access to strong support system. In this interview, she shares her story, why she chose Germany as a study destination, the challenges she faced during the job search process and how the Buddy program helped her land her current job as a financial controller.
Tell us your journey from Albania to Germany in pursuit of higher education
I graduated three years ago in Banking and Finance. In the same year, I decided to pursue my master studies in the same educational field. Upon the completion of my first year of master studies, I came to Germany as a double degree student to study Master of Arts in International Business.
Why did you choose Germany as a place to study?
Under no circumstance was I thinking of coming abroad, until I was awarded a scholarship where I could transfer in the second year of master studies to Germany. The reason why I decided to take advantage of such an opportunity, was mainly because I wanted to expand my knowledge further within the European market and to see what Germany had to offer. It is a popular studying and working destination in Albania. Not only that, but being close to Frankfurt for somebody with a finance background, It was like a golden ticket to many career opportunities.
What were your expectations when you first moved here?
When I first moved to Germany, my expectations were quite high. I had this idealistic country in mind that is portrayed in the media: However, just like any other country, it has its own challenges and sometimes we get disappointed when those expectations aren’t met. What made me stay however is the fact that I was very enthusiastic of my possibilities here. Especially given the fact that it is one of the strongest economies in Europe and Frankfurt being the financial capital, made me very optimistic.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Aside from the cultural and language barriers, my biggest challenge was finding an internship. I remember sending tones of applications to various companies, with no success. It was a tough time. Also, the lack of a proper support network that dealt with these challenges were nonexistent, and the career services offered at the university, did not really do much to tackle the issue at the core. I was almost at a point of giving up and returning back to Albania especially because the pandemic intensified these challenges, and it was almost impossible to be even invited for a job interview.
How did you find out about the Buddy Program?
I remember it was one of those days, where I was reading through LinkedIn, and I came across a post by Erica regarding the program. The timing couldn’t be any better. It gave me a sense of hope and I decided to join right away! I was surprised by how everything went very smooth and very fast. After the initial interview, I was assigned a Buddy and received all the program details I needed to pay attention to. I got in touch with my Buddy right away and started planning our sessions. I was really committed to achieving my goal which was to find an internship and she played a vital role in guiding and giving me advice on how to best navigate. She was almost like my friend. She even introduced and connected me to her professional network. This whole process really helped me regain my confidence and gain clarity of my career. I had a lot of self-doubt due to the rejections I received, but the program provided a very strong support system and it gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone.
The best advice I would give students who are in the situation I once was
Invest in your professional relationships. Great opportunities come from knowing the right people who could open doors for you. If I had known this before, I would have started way earlier. Join various networks that offer these possibilities. The Buddy program helped me achieve exactly that. Even if you can’t be part of the program, being part of the Career Lounge network will really help you connect with professionals from all walks of life. You will get to meet experts and they might give you tips for the industry you want to work in the future.
– Olta Muça
How can students & graduates make the most of the program?
Try as best as possible to implement the advice your Buddy gives you. Do not be shy to ask questions and remember they are there to help you out. Be proactive in scheduling sessions and stay committed to your goals at hand. Write down your goals, get your Buddy to help you define an action plan and don’t forget to document your process, that way you will be able to track your progress.