Spotlight On: Anna Prokhorenko, International Student Advisor
Hi Anna, what do you do at Brand Academy?
I’m the first point of contact for everyone who’s interested in our English-language study programmes. For instance, if you send an email to email@example.com, it ends up on my desk. I also represent BA at study fairs. Just recently you could have met me at the Master & More and the Stuzubi fairs in Hamburg. After first contact, I guide prospect students to their applications, then to their verbal examinations and, ultimately, to enrolment. I present and explain our programmes, answer all kinds of questions, provide advice, and organize and conduct visits to our campus.
Have you held jobs with similar responsibilities before joining BA? What’s your background?
Previous to working here I did international marketing for Hamburg City College and before that I held a position as International Marketing & Sales Manager with EIIE EURASIA Institute in Berlin. My key task was exciting young people from all over the world for the Pathway programmes and for studying in Germany. I’ve studied at FU Berlin (German language and literature) and TU Berlin (Intercultural communications and German as a foreign language). Currently I am working on yet another degree, this time in business economics.
In trying to excite prospect students about BA, what are your strongest arguments?
Firstly, I emphasize our uniqueness. There’s simply no other institute of higher education as focused on the topic of brands as we are. Secondly, I point out that practice-oriented learning is essential to our teaching philosophy. For instance, our students don’t just learn the theoretical instruments of brand management, but regularly apply them as part of practice projects supported by international partners from the corporate and agency world. We know that the labor market needs brand experts and we go to great lengths to ensure that our graduates are qualified to occupy that role. Experience teaches us that we are right to do so because our graduates tend to rise quickly through the ranks in brand managing companies or agencies. Not seldom they even start their own companies.
Do you have any advice for those who would like to study at BA?
Aside from having to meet the formal academic requirements for the respective study programme, we are looking for applicants with a passion for brands and marketing. They should be creative while thinking analytically and either strive for becoming an entrepreneur or starting a successful international career. However, personal traits are also important, not least because our class sizes are strictly limited. Hence, we take great care to ensure those who make it into a class fit together and are at about the same level.
As a result, it takes no wonder that we consider CVs and motivational letters crucial in selecting our students. Generally speaking, application documents tell us a lot about the applicant. Since you only have one chance to make a first impression, my advice is to make sure it’s a favorable one.
What are the greatest challenges in dealing with prospect students?
One of the most pleasant aspects of my work is also the most challenging: I have to deal with a lot of people on a daily basis. I believe those working in people businesses know the two sides of that coin. More specifically, our prospect students come from all corners of the world and therefore have very different ways of thinking, working and communicating. I have to adapt to those and other differences on top of the individual ones that differentiate human beings anyway.
For reasons of time and practicality, a significant part of my communications with prospects are conducted by email, but I always prefer Skype and telephone calls when I have a choice. It’s much more personal and it facilitates answering questions and discussing the prospects’ needs and expectations in detail. However, in an ideal world all prospect students should come visit us in person. Seeing something with your own eyes is much more convincing than being told a hundred times.
What motivates you? Can you think of any particularly satisfying experiences?
Many of our current students have joined BA without previously setting a foot into it. That requires a lot of trust. In addition, studying in Germany is a big deal even for Germans. You have to invest money, probably have to move to a different place and chances are you are insecure with regards to the ultimate outcome of your efforts.
It tends to be even more difficult for foreigners. They have to leave behind the lives they are used to, perhaps also their jobs and their families in order to follow their dreams. They encounter a new culture with different customs and habits, a new language, new people. A lot seems strange and unusual. That’s a great challenge and the decision whether to tackle it or not is a difficult one. 14 years ago, I, too, came to Germany for studying, so I know what I’m talking about. I know the challenges foreign students are facing in Germany and how to solve them. Comforting and encouraging prospects is also part of my daily tasks. As a result, I feel like I share some of the responsibility for the decision to come to Hamburg and to join BA.
However, when the students have enrolled and been here a while and I hear how much they like the programme, our approach to teaching, how professional and qualified our lecturers are, how much they learn here and they tell me that it was ultimately a good decision to join BA, then I feel happy and also somewhat relieved because it means I’ve done something good and haven’t promised too much.
What are you up to when you’re not at work?
I love travelling and discovering new cultures, countries, people, languages and cuisines – no matter whether on a long journey or during a quick holiday trip. I simply love being on the road. It fits that I also love running. I’ve done the Berlin Marathon, but half marathon is my favorite distance. For me it’s similar to meditating and in the end, you get an adrenaline rush on top! That aside, I work a bit as a fitness trainer and give courses – a very nice way to balance out those long hours at my desk. Not least, giving courses helped me realize that I love motivating people.