29 Jul 2020

“Take everything from GSOM!” — an interview with fourth-year student Nikita Dreval

Nikita Dreval, a fourth-year Bachelor student at the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University (GSOM SPbU), is the organizer of many extracurricular activities of the business school — Management Career Week, sports competitions, as well as a participant and winner of case championships. In an interview, Nikita told why he chose education at GSOM, how he combines study and active participation in business school events, as well as about an internship at Tele2. 


Why did you choose Bachelor program at GSOM? What principles were you guided by?

The first time I heard about GSOM in February 11th grade from a friend who was then already in his second year and, showing me a textbook on microeconomics, told me about his studies. After that, I carefully studied the site (all sections), read the alumni reviews and realized that it was worth going to the open day. Well, after visiting the Mikhailovskaya Dacha, seeing the glass, the lecture hall and talking with the students, I realized that you don't have to go to open days anymore, the choice has been made. And even the road two hours from home did not frighten! 


Among the main principles that guided me, I would name the perspective and comfort of learning. These are corporate partners, foreign partner universities, the special business environment of the GSOM Family, and, of course, the well-equipped Mikhailovka Campus, which you always want to return to. 


How did you envision studying at GSOM? And did your expectations come true?

To be honest, I had little idea what awaited me. On the one hand, there was a feeling that you were going to "Russian Harvard", on the other, there was a fear that everything would turn out to be just a beautiful picture, and the training would be in accordance with all the canons of stereotypes about a sad student life. But closer to the beginning of my studies, I became confident that everything would be cool. And it was confirmed by all 200%! After studying in a fairly classical school, GSOM group projects, real cases, brainstorms in glass and just an unrealistic volume of educational and extracurricular projects, I could not help but impress.


You are actively involved in the student life of the university, you are a member of many organising committees. What do you like most in the extracurricular life of GSOM? And how do you manage to combine it with education?

When I just applied to my very first organizing committee (the Kultsport team, in which, by the way, I am still a member), the motivation was “to take everything from business school”. But by the second year I realized the real value of extracurricular projects and events. This is not only an extremely rewarding experience, but also the wonderful people you work with. For the last two years, the opportunity to meet, make friends and work with new, cool people is my main motivation. I think that getting to know these people is the main asset that I really hope to keep after graduation.


At GSOM students perfectly improve their time management skills. I use Google Calendar, where I notes all my classes, meetings and projects. The main rule is to write down all tasks, activities and goals, and then check the plan and prioritize each day, not forgetting about the study.


What was most useful your work as an organizer of extracurricular projects?

The organization of extracurricular activities is, on the whole, a series of interesting cases. For example, when organizing the all-Russian conference Management of the Future'19, my colleague and I needed to be in two places at the same time. While we were taking drinks and meeting musicians for a gala dinner, we controlled the situation in Mikhailovskaya Dacha by phone. 



Now you are doing an internship at Tele2, tell us about your experience, how did you get there?

Having learned from the experience of finding an internship after my second year, I started looking for an internship for the summer as early as April. In the current environment, with companies canceling all internships, the search has become even more challenging. I submitted a resume to Tele2 and passed a multi-stage selection. First, the agency that deals with the initial selection of personnel identified me by my resume in sales, because of which I had to take tests with questions in SQL and Python (I miraculously passed them), then there was an online interview and an interview on Skype with the head of the sales department , as a result of which another interview was scheduled, only this time to the corporate communications directorate. After that, I successfully solved the test task. I had to write a native post for a lifestyle blogger and develop a concept for a press event. Then I weighed all the pros and cons, compared the offer with others and decided to start internship in Tele2.


What advice can you give to students who have not done an internship yet?

I think the main advice is not to be afraid to try and never give up. It is very likely that the first time you get into the dream company (it does not matter if it is an international FMCG company or BIG-3 consulting) you will not have a job offer. In this case, it is important to have fallbacks and be ready to start your career with a smaller company with a lesser known brand. Often, the experience gained on such internships is no less cool than on internships in large companies. Of course, it is necessary to prepare for the selection. Study the company's website, its corporate culture, determine for yourself why you would like to work for this company, talk to current employees, pass tests and find out the details of selection for an internship. This will greatly increase your chances of getting an offer. And if you are not afraid to take on projects and internships throughout the year, by the time you graduate you will have a good resume that you will be able to show to any HR specialist!


What knowledge and competencies are required for a successful internship?

When selecting for an internship, the main criterion is often not knowledge, but motivation and willingness to work and study. Many representatives of HR-departments said that "burning eyes" and understanding why you wanted to work in this particular company was a much more important factor than knowledge of terms or software.


During the internship, you should not hesitate to ask questions, make new acquaintances. It is necessary not only to complete your work tasks, but to study the business processes of the company as a whole, use its corporate resources, training courses. And, of course, you shouldn't be afraid to express your opinion. Most companies value a fresh, critical opinion on the current organization of the business and reward employee creativity. Here, studying at GSOM becomes a competitive advantage, because it changes a way of thinking: students become open-minded, consider problems from different points of view and offer comprehensive solutions. And a good suggestion for improving any process will increase your credibility in the eyes of the employer.


What advice can you give for the first and second years students?

I would recommend to take everuthing from your studies. Four years, in fact, is a very short time and therefore you should not miss opportunities, you need to be proactive, not afraid of new things, not be afraid to try, be prepared for the fact that not everything will turn out the way you want, but only you are responsible for who will you become after these 4 years. And finally, a list of must-have actions for freshmen:

  • Meet new people every month. Perhaps they will give you a new impetus to development.
  • Try to do a project at least once (no matter educational or extracurricular) the night before the deadline. This will show you what you are really capable of. But don't make it a habit.
  • Try to participate in at least one event as an organizer. Regardless of whether you continue this activity, you will definitely discover new qualities in yourself and in others that you might not even have known about before.
  • Don't miss out on the opportunity to learn something new outside of the curriculum. Take part in case championships, online lectures, sign up for online courses, and read business literature. All this will only increase your value as a specialist and as a person.
  • Remember that being a student is not only about studying and business, but also about great memories. Relax! Travel with friends, walk until the morning, become a buddy for exchange students, and spontaneous trips. These memories will stay with you for life.