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Anastasiia Bilous: Launching a career in the Berlin start-up scene

One year abroad in Braunschweig, then an internship in Berlin and then a permanent position in Berlin. The Ukrainian Anastasiia Bilous succeeded in starting her professional career in Germany.

by Janine Funke

Anastasiia Bilous © Noack/DAAD
Anastasiia Bilous . © Noack/DAAD

Profile

Name: Anastasiia Bilous
Country of origin: Ukraine
Job: Senior Project Manager at "Yukoono"
University study:  Logistics at the TU Braunschweig (2008 - 2009)

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, Anastasiia went to Germany to study for one year at the TU Braunschweig. “I always wanted to get foreign experience in order to increase my chances of getting a good job later on,” she says. While in Braunschweig, she specialised in Logistics and completed the course with a certificate of study.

Studying in Germany helped launch her career

Although study conditions in Germany were different than those in Ukraine, it turned out to be a good experience for Anastasiia. In addition to pursuing her studies, she also worked for the student organisation AIESEC. She had been an active member in the organisation while she was student in Ukraine. The AIESEC office in Braunschweig helped her when she had visa problems and provided contacts for obtaining an internship in Germany.

Anastasiia with her colleagues © Noack/DAAD
Anastasiia with her colleagues . © Noack/DAAD

She gained her first work experience at “Yakoono”, a typical start-up company located in the trendy district of Kreuzberg in Berlin. She started as an intern in the marketing department and then was promoted to the position of Senior Product Manager responsible for overseeing the company’s product development from the drawing board to final production. It was the perfect fit for Anastasiia, working in large, open offices in an international atmosphere, and involved in the company’s online operations. Today, the 25-year-old is employed at the online firm “Cupid”.

Knowing German is important

 Anastasiia honed her German skills during her time at university. Not only was it essential for her studies, but it proved immensely helpful for getting her first job. “German is a difficult language, but it’s worth learning”, she says. During her first weeks in Germany, she spent four hours a day five days a week attending a German course. After only one year, she had reached the C1 level. Even though English is spoken at the company where she’s working now, she regularly experiences situations where it helps to speak German. “The company sometimes assigned me certain tasks because of my German skills,” Anastasiia adds.

Cultural misunderstandings

Despite her good German skills, Anastasiia was constantly confronted with culturally challenging situations. The business culture in every company differs from country to country. “I had to learn that there’s a different dress code in Germany”. In Ukraine, female employees usually wear a dress and high heels to official company events. In German start-up companies, the staff wears more relaxed attire. Usually jeans and shirts are fine.

Anastasiia at work © Noack/DAAD
Anastasiia at work . © Noack/DAAD

The same applies to the code of conduct. “At some point, I simply began asking questions if I didn’t understand something,” says Anastasiia. She also stopped applying Ukrainian standards to Germany – both in terms of her relationship to friends, as well as her dealings with customers. 

German companies have a good reputation

“Having worked for a German company is an enormous boost for my career,” Anastasiia sums up. Many German companies are internationally respected and employers around the world place their trust in German standards. Anastasiia believes she wouldn’t have had such good chances in the labour market had she not studied in Germany, gained work experience and improved her language skills.

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