EF Academy New York alum Tomiris Medetbekova majored in Strategic Design and Management at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York. In March we met to talk about her time at school and university, and to get some tips on getting those all-important internships.
What brought you to EF Academy?
I have been travelling all over the world since the age of seven and I love exploring places and meeting new people. Every summer I went to a different boarding school in the UK and met lots of different people from all over the world. I loved that experience and it meant that my childhood was so different from the other kids who stayed at home. I got such a broad view of different people and cultures from across the world and I loved it. I had my sights set on going to live abroad for a long time. I had never been to the US before coming to EF Academy but I attended an event and just knew it was the right place for me to be.
Do you think EF Academy changed you?
Back home I lived a very sheltered life. I went to school, I played tennis, I studied and not much else. I went to small private schools so I wasn’t exposed to much. Then, when I came to EF I was surrounded by different cultures and it was so much fun to see this new environment, experience new things and views of life. EF prepared me a lot for university and being independent. People usually experience that independence for the first time when they first start university but when I started I was prepared because of EF Academy. I had seen New York before and got used to being able to go to the city on weekends and then come back and have our own little community. When I came to college I was able to focus and study. Once you get to university everything counts, from day one you should be looking at what your major is about and what you are doing to build your resume to apply for the internships you will want to do. The more experience you have, the more secure you will be after university.
What have you been working on at university?
For my senior project I am working with Ethereum which is a blockchain company that has their own digital currency. Me and my partner are creating a business strategy for them. Not many people know about the company so we’re working on the strategy to look at how VR and AR can be used to help people understand blockchain better. People can read about it 10 or 20 times a day and not understand what it is. An easier approach would be for people to see it and interact with it. We’re looking at creating that experience to teach people what Ethereum is and what blockchain is. We could have just done a report but me and my partner decided to take advantage of this school and all the tools that we have and actually design something different and useful.
Have you done any internships?
I started at 16 in Milan, I was a buyers assistant for Versace. My job was to basically fold clothes and clean tables and listen to what was going on. It was long, hard work and I’ll admit my love for fashion took a bit of a hit. I didn’t stop though, I did another internship with a fashion firm which was more marketing based. Those internships helped to build my resume and I was doing fashion and marketing which I liked. Shortly after someone sent me a message on LinkedIn to invite me to his start up. It was a tech startup and it was great to see how people use their internship opportunities to perform and show their skills in leadership, communication and networking. I saw how they were acting and after that I did everything I could to be as dynamic as possible and learn lots of different things. I found it’s important to also gain certificates from different places to prove I could do these things.
Do you have any tips for applying?
People need to be as universal as possible, especially in New York City. Go see places and meet people and do as much as you can, don’t just study. Apply for more than 80 positions. Don’t apply for 10 and sit and wait. Some might reply but if you want to work in Fortune 500 companies you should apply for all of them. Apply for an internship, wait 4 days, send a follow up message, then do this again maximum 3 times after that. Then, after that do something crazy like a written note of your cover letter directly to a person in that office. You have to keep pushing for those jobs that you really want. Research not only the company but the hiring manager. Find their email if its public and contact them directly and say that you would like a few minutes of their time to show how much you want the position. Give them a date and a time for a coffee or lunch near their office and prepare thoughtful and unique questions that are actually interesting and set you apart.
Do you have any tips for students joining EF or moving on now?
When you apply for universities, focus on getting hard skills at undergraduate, then do your business or art degree at grad school to make yourself as attractive for jobs as possible. I’m doing a business degree now but I’m going to work then go into Computer Science or data science at grad school because tech is so important right now.