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Advice from alumni: Alexandra Mishenina

Alexandra Mishenina graduated from EF Academy Torbay in 2011 and after earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Lancaster University, she took on a job at Ernst & Young (EY) in London. Today, she works as a Senior Consultant in Business Modeling and Analytics, and she has some good advice about your network. Read on to see how she got her job at EY: 


Full name: Alex Mishenina

Age: 28

Home country: Russia

EF Academy campus: Torbay

Program: A-Levels

Graduation year (from EF Academy): 2011

Favorite clubs: There were a lot of get-togethers outside, next to the sea

Favorite subject: Information & Communications Technology

University: Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Management at Lancaster, Master’s Degree in Operational Research and Management Science at Lancaster

Employer: Senior Consultant in Business Modeling and Analytics at Ernst & Young (EY)


Why did you decide to study abroad?

It was a great chance to broaden my horizons and get an international education experience. Plus, it was a great opportunity to apply to the best universities in the country.

What was your favorite part of the A-Level program?

The best part was that I was allowed to select the subjects I had the most interest in and the ones that I thought were the most beneficial for me in the long-run. I took mathematics, ICT and economics, which are all applicable to my current job. The teachers were really excellent and they always went the extra mile to explain something if students needed help.

How did you choose your university and your program?

When I was writing my personal statement, I definitely knew what I wanted to do at that time. I researched the subject online a lot and with the teachers who have business knowledge. I told them that I wanted something that was challenging and would satisfy my curiosity, something related to business and how goods can be marketed.

When I took a catalog for the top marketing degrees in the country, I saw that Lancaster was the top university for marketing at the time and it still is. I went to the top university for the subject I wanted to study.

Did you do any internships that benefited your studies or your career plan?

There was a work placement coordinator at my university that had a lot of contacts with local businesses and they hired students to work for them. The local business benefited from the additional employees, and in that way I was employed for three or four placements. I helped the businesses I worked for improve their marketing strategy and helped them grow their business. That’s when I first started getting interested in the consulting industry. By having those three or four projects over the summer, I realized that I liked doing the same job but I also appreciated meeting different people and doing different tasks. It was useful to know because it relates to what I’m currently doing.

Describe how you entered the career world after graduating from university…

After my Bachelor’s Degree, I changed the subject of my focus completely and started doing operational research which is much more mathematical. I realized I wanted to go back to my original studies of ICT and mathematics and gain new knowledge which I knew at that time was in high demand in the workplace. After graduating with my Master’s Degree, I found a great position at Ernst & Young – so I was employed by the operational research practice at EY and they employed me to a large extent because of the knowledge I gained in my Master’s Degree program. That degree is very applicable for the job. I knew a couple of firms that specialized in operational research, but I knew that graduates from previous years had gotten a job at EY, so I applied because I knew that Lancaster had a good relationship with the company in that area.

What are you doing now?

I’m working with clients from various industries – public and non-public companies – and I help them to drive useful insights using different analytical tools and modeling approaches. For example, if the firm wants to approach a certain strategy, I will build a model that tells them where they can cut their costs and by how much. We use the latest technologies to build different visual and interactive tools with the clients to help them with their decision making.

It’s a job of the future – if you study mathematics, then you can definitely succeed in this industry because the industry needs people with a mathematical background.

How important is it to establish a network of contacts?

It becomes more and more crucial every single year since you are being promoted within the firm, you have more influence on how the business goes and you realize that without a network of friends and colleagues, you will never succeed. It’s not about you, it’s about how you take the business forward. You need to know the right people to get interesting projects and to get into the industries that will benefit the most from the job you are doing. Since we are very project-based, we need to have contacts in various industries to win those projects.

What advice do you have for current EF Academy students?

I think a lot of talented people go to EF Academy because if you join it, you are already one step ahead of so many other people. At EF Academy, you join an international group of students, which represents your first network of people who you need to stay in touch with. You can meet a lot of friends that you’ll stay in touch with for the rest of your life.

But that’s not just the case in high school, it’s at every institute or workplace you enter. The contacts that you make and the friends you meet are very important in the long-term.

I think studying something mathematical is really important if you want to get a career in finance or accounting, or even analytics. But even analytics is a big field for future jobs and it’s an exciting area that evolves so quickly and you will never get bored. My advice is that whoever is interested in math and technology should look into data science and data analytics roles. I think they’re very exciting.

What is the most valuable thing you learned at EF Academy?

To be honest, all subjects that I studied are applicable on a daily basis. I apply my mathematical skills on a daily basis and it’s a great subject to know – your math skills will be tested in every field. The second subject I studied was ICT and I must say, that it is crucial for my current job – it’s the foundation for everything. And the economics part was super valuable because I work in economics and I need to know about demand and supply – what I learned about this at EF Academy applies to every other project I have. It’s hard to say one thing that is the most valuable, but knowledge-wise all of my subjects were incredibly useful.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the fact that I went to EF Academy. I came from a small town in Siberia, Russia and not many people from there study abroad. If I hadn’t come, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your dream for your future?

To become an accomplished specialist in advanced analytics and operational research. This is an industry that really excites me and I see a lot of things happening that will change the industry and the business world, and I’d like to be part of that change. I’d like to continue living in London with my husband and have a family here and really enjoy London life.


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