Today we sat down with our newest employee, Melanie Mladenova. She joined us as a Marketing Sales Manager. Melanie is in her final year studying at the International Business School at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Today, we sat down to talk about job hunting and why she joined Payments & Cards Network.
What led you to Amsterdam?
I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and attended a language high school while there. This exposure to languages helped me see how much I wanted to live abroad. So, I began to think about where to go after graduation. I chose the program in Amsterdam for two reasons. One, is their first year enterprise project. I was given a lot of insight on how businesses run. That gave me a great opportunity to start up a business as part of a team. The second reason I chose to come to Amsterdam is to get a general idea of my interests in the business world rather than specializing right away. I wanted to be exposed to as many international businesses and learn as many skills as possible.
In my past few years, I’ve been finding mentors, building up networks, working part time and studying full time and learning as much as I can. I went to an exchange in Barcelona and in my third year I interned and made the decision about what I want to do. I decided I would like to focus on sales—which I had enjoyed in my internship. And the financial world interests me. I’d done a paper and research project about Islamic finance and wanted to see if I could find a position that combines these elements. I wanted to see what I could do with clients and sales experience along with my communication and language skill set.
What has it been like joining the Payments & Cards Network team?
Well, I was approached by Payments & Cards and we had a preliminary conversation. I found the company welcoming. Additionally, there is structure. The company is clear in their goals. The fact that you as a company are clear on what you want to achieve made it a quicker and easier decision for me as well. I like that I can ask for what I need and the company was flexible with me. For example, I’m working on my final thesis here while working. And the company and I have figured out a way to do this that works well with our schedules and I can then contribute that research I do back to PCN.
There’s lots of room for growing here and exploring different opportunities. That’s the fun part of working at a smaller and international company. Here we are seen as people, it’s not too hierarchical. I can ask anyone I want for training and advice and it’s motivating to work side by side with people, regardless of their role within the company. I also think it’s nice because the company makes sure to set KPIs for us and think of fun rewards—these perks are not required but we appreciate them and it motivates us further.
What do you hope to learn while working here?
I already love talking and making connections but what I’m looking forward to with sales training is learning more about strategic thinking. Learning what I can do to take proactive steps towards success. It’s not useful to worry or be anxious but rather move forward with calling people and creating these networks.
Any advice for those who are job hunting?
On your LinkedIn, make sure you really describe your job, show how you’ve developed yourself and show people your range of skills. It’s not bad to show skills you honed even in settings that are different than your target job. It’s good to show you’re a well rounded person when job hunting. In terms of your profile picture, make sure it’s professional. One way I like to think of it is: would this profile picture be appropriate for any level of employee at a company? If your potential boss could imagine you in any role within the company based on that photo (manager, administrator, HR) then you’ve picked the right type of photo.
In terms of the job search, don’t give up! You never know when or where the right position will show up. It can take months. I know, I’ve been through that stress! But until you go out and make mistakes and learn from your interviews, you’re not prepared. It’s OK and actually good to go out and make these mistakes until you learn to be your genuine self at these interviews when job hunting.
That’s what people look for more than a skill set—they look for employees who have potential. So don’t worry if you don’t match every single job qualification, just pick up the phone, try to network and remember even a CEO has been in your place before. Most people can empathize with being a job seeking intern and will respect your bravery in calling them or getting your foot in the door.