by Mariya Stancheva, IB alumni, Associate - Sales & Marketing Recruitment at Michael Page International.
Hand on my heart – I was not planning on becoming a professional recruiter before I started my study program. Was it a good choice to become one and stand where I am today? Oh, most definitely YES! Let me tell you why…
My name is Mariya Stancheva – born and raised in a small city close to the beautiful Black sea cost in Bulgaria. I come from a normal family and I know it was difficult for my parents to support me financially in my dream to study abroad. However, in 2012 we made it happen and I came to the Netherlands to follow a Bachelor’s degree program in International Business and Management studies in The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
I noticed I was a little bit older (21) than most of my co-students at the time and they would notice I was a woman on a mission. The goal was clear for me – get the most out of the study in this leading educational program. I would always attend classes, I voluntarily signed up for 2 minors and I would get involved in as many extra-curriculum activities as I could handle (World Class of The Hague, organizing IB Got Talent, etc.) I also found time to go out with my friends and enjoy the student life in The Hague. Looking back on those years, I am grateful I ran that extra mile as this helped me tremendously in connecting with a lot of like-minded people during my student years and it was excellent for my network which is one of the most crucial elements of a successful career (as I happened to learn later on while working).
"I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort bubble."
Michael Page: Stock-listed A-brand Company in the Agency Recruitment world
After my exchange semester in Thailand (Bangkok), I was actively looking for an internship. To be completely transparent and honest with you – I was a bit confused which direction to pick. All I knew is I wanted to be challenged even more and I didn’t want to do the same thing day in and day out – I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort bubble.
I remember the day I stumbled upon an internship post on our university’s Blackboard about a position at Michael Page in Rotterdam at the recruitment team for Sales & Marketing jobs. I researched the company and decided to apply. 3 days later I found myself in an interview, having a great click with the hiring manager (thank you for believing in me and coaching me Stefania!) and quickly realized this is exactly what I needed at the time. Long story short – from 6-months internship, I got extension for another 6 months to write my thesis project for Michael Page. Then I was offered to stay and work at the company which I embraced as a great opportunity. For the last 4,5 years I have grown from Intern to Trainee to Junior Consultant to Consultant to Senior consultant and now I am an Associate in the team Sales & Marketing (the associate track is recognized as an expert path in recruitment in the context of our organization).
"I like to see myself as an entrepreneur with the backbone of a big organization."
So What do I do as a Professional Recruiter?
As a professional recruiter (on the agency recruitment side) I have a 360° consultancy role. This means that I am always “ the spider-in-the-web” in between several groups of stakeholders that I need to understand, manage and advise in order to deliver superior recruitment services. On the one side, I work with my clients – these are diverse companies that have certain recruitment needs. On the other side, I search, screen, select and interview candidates – these are sales and marketing professionals that look for the next step in their career progression. I am managing recruitment projects from beginning to an end – from a recruitment need arising at our clients to placing the right professional on the job, while constantly mediating between the two sides, connecting the dots, advising and consulting and spotting potential gaps that can make or break the whole process, advising on offer management.
How do all the assignments come in? Sometimes companies call me with the request to help, but often time I am pro-actively busy myself with business development. I continuously look at market trends, news, vacancies posts and I do commercial (warm/cold) acquisition in order to get new projects to work on. I have full freedom to build my portfolio of clients and companies I want to work with. What I truly enjoy as a recruiter is that I am not the whole day behind a computer matching CVs with jobs I work on. Besides being often on the phone, in various meetings and interviews, I am also on the road. I visit clients, pitch for new projects, I do job intakes/briefs. This is the part I love about what I do daily – every day is different, every client has diverse needs and projects always require custom-made solution I need to come up with as a business professional. If I have to sum it up in my own words – I have a very hybrid role combining HR, sales, marketing and project management. I like to see myself as an entrepreneur with the backbone of a big organization.
"I am still using every day a lot of things learned during my study."
How my IB Study program contributed to my success on the job
I am still using every day a lot of things learned during my study. I recruit sales and marketing professionals – having studied these subjects naturally helps when having an in-depth conversation with candidates and clients. With my knowledge I can directly build rapport and demonstrate I know what I am talking about and I am a specialist in the field.
However, a big learning curve for me came during some parts of the study program that many of us underestimate while studying. Integrated projects, team work, all the applied group assignments – those are key elements of our program that help us shine later on in the office. We all know the struggle to find the right team dynamics, to understand different cultures, to get everybody to meet, to handle a group member that is slacking and literally undergo many headaches to get a project done on time. Reflecting back – at the beginning of my study I would excel individually, but I had great challenges working in a team setting. Going through the whole forming, storming, norming team building exercise that we studied about during the Organizational Behavior module was a real-life challenge. But those integrated projects were of paramount importance to my development. The fact that IB program continuously puts us in an environment that was challenging is very powerful for growth and development. You cannot learn this from the books – you need to be given the space and guidance to experience it and learn from it.
By the time I got my diploma, I could handle properly various real-life scenarios and business assignment. I noticed at work it came naturally to me to be very hands-on, capable of working in a newly formed team that has to resolve a business issues quickly and effectively.
"It turns out you don’t have to have it all figured out before or during your study."
Looking 8 years back in time spent in studying and working in the Netherlands, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have entered the doorstep of The Hague University. The whole experience was key to the successful start of my career. This is why I am now a genuine ambassador of the program.
Looking on the way forward – I have made the decision to settle in the Netherlands and continue my life and career here. I have made a lot of friends, most of them from our university. I also bought a house 2 years ago with my fiancé. I can enjoy the stability of my permanent contract, good salary conditions and bonuses (+company car, flexible working hours). I am feeling happy with where I stand and what I was able to achieve in this period of time.
It turns out you don’t have to have it all figured out before or during your study – something you should explore opportunities you did not think of, take that leap of faith and try out until you find out what you enjoy doing. The International Business program gives the perfect overall view on business but it is you who needs to decide in what area you want to further develop and progress – it is a personal choice and responsibility.
And then another final thing to end with that you won’t read in the study books that I want to share with you – follow that intuition and heart of yours. Often times you already know deep inside the answers you seek – be brave and daring to act upon new possibilities and be confident enough with your education and preparation to show up and get to the next level.