Personal Experience: Follow Your Bliss
Ever wondered how professors ended up in their positions? AUBG professors had a light-hearted talk with students to encourage them to follow their dreams, find their passions, and enjoy the university experience.
Professors Hristina Kostadinova, Joseph Pilov and Mark Stefanovich talked about how insignificant the GPA is and how many things do not depend on the students applying for a university. The professors shared their paths of life that led them to where they are now and gave practical advice to the students. The Life After Graduation: Personal Experience event was organized by AUBG Student Advisors on Nov. 12.
Joesph Pilov, a Business Administration Department professor, who graduated from AUBG in 1996, focused on his experience in Microsoft. He worked in the company for 15 years after he finished his master’s program in the University of Oklahoma and held hundreds of interviews.
One of his most valuable tips was not to focus on grades. Pilov said that when he was at the interviews, he never looked at the GPA on the CVs. Instead, he would ask the person more detailed questions about the skills he or she possessed, or the languages of programming he or she knew. “As long the people knew their stuff, I would recommend them,” Pilov said.
Similar situations are present in some of the schools. According to Pilov, the admissions might initially separate the applications into a pile of those who meet the minimum GPA requirement. Then, they might look at the recommendations, eliminate the ones which did not meet the expectations, look at the courses studied, etc. By the time the commission must make a final decision, the GPA turns out to be not a decisive factor.
“The point I am trying to make here,” Pilov said, “this constant thrive to have an “A” is, in my opinion, worthless.” As long as you have above around 3.3, you should be fine, according to the professor. “Five years from now, it won’t matter what grade you had,” he said. “You might be better off learning some particular skill and getting a B, than going to a class that will get you an easy “A”.”
Next, professor Hristina Kostadinova from the Computer Science Department shared how she ended up teaching at AUBG for the third semester. When she graduated, she applied for a job as a software developer. At the time, it was a demanded profession in Sofia, so she received several offers. She chose the one where she liked the team and the environment the most, and not the one where she would receive the highest salary. “I understood that my motivation comes from people,” Kostadinova said. “I want to support them and help them with their job. I found what I really want to do in my first job.” She realized that the technical part of the field was not for her. Instead, she discovered that she preferred working with people.
A few years later, Kostadinova earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in the South-West University “Neofit Rilski” in Blagoevgrad. She came to AUBG to continue working with people and share knowledge with others. She advised the students applying for a job to fill out an application for each specific position at each place, considering the places’ specifications and needs. It would demonstrate how interested an applicant is. She also advised to build a portfolio of all the works and experiences the person has.
“My story is a little different,” professor Mark Stefanovich said. These were Stefanovich’s first words of the evening. He shared the things he has learned over the years, 23 of which he spent at AUBG. He focused on the art of asking for advice. “It’s really important to know what you want to do,” he said. “But what’s more important, is, when you are seeking for advice, try to find people like yourself, that would respond similarly to the situation as you would.” Otherwise, he said, you are getting wrong information.
He talked about how important it is to find your true passions and desires. “What you’ll like the most, you will do the best; what you do the best, you will like the most,” he said. “I don’t know which one comes first, but these things work together.” Stefanovich dared the students to take advantages of all the possibilities and do only what they want to do. He insisted that the students must believe in themselves by quoting Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, who said, “Follow your bliss.”
Stefanovich said that college years are the best and the easiest. Later, life will get harder – there will be bills, relationship, kids. But for now, the students can enjoy life carelessly and figure out what they truly like. “If nothing else, by the end of AUBG, you’ll know what you don’t like,” Stefanovich said.
The few students who attended seemed to enjoy the event. “I came there to get some ideas about what to do after graduation and I got what I wanted,” Eugen Bronasco, a second-year student, said. “The advice was very helpful, especially about MBA, being ready that everything will go out of the plan, and about whose advice we should listen to.”