What are your roles and responsibilities at ITMO?

I am a part of ITMO’s International Admissions Office. I look after the admission of international Master’s students and also work with the summer and winter schools. In addition to my international responsibilities, I also look after the Study Abroad at Home program.

Could you tell us more about the Study Abroad at Home program?

Every semester, we host exchange students from partner universities and offer them a set of courses. We then have a competition for other students at ITMO to join classes organized for the exchange semester, which are all held in English. The goal of this program is to encourage cross-cultural competence. Participating students get to learn about different cultures. Also, it is a good place to practice communication in English. It prepares them for future exchange opportunities. 

Is this program open to everyone?

It is open to everyone, even Foundation Program students but usually, due to the number of classes conducted, Bachelor’s students seldom have the time to enroll in such a program. It is mostly Master’s students who opt for it.

How long have you been employed at ITMO?

I have been working here since 2018. So, it has been more than four years.

How did you find out about this job?

I am from St. Petersburg and ITMO is a very well-known university here. I found out about the vacancy very easily from its website

Did you learn English at school or were you self-taught?

Bit of both! Like most students in Russia, I was taught English in school. Later on, at the university, I studied international relations. So, I had to communicate in English quite a lot.

Also, I did my Master’s in the UK, so that contributes to my fluency in English, too. I also practice every day and I communicate with international students and university partners regularly. So, that helps as well.

“I enjoy devoting my life to internationalization and education,” says Ekaterina. Photo courtesy of the subject

“I enjoy devoting my life to internationalization and education,” says Ekaterina. Photo courtesy of the subject

How do you establish partnerships with other universities?

There are many different ways to do it. Scientific collaborations are one of them. Such relationships are mainly driven by the faculties. Sometimes, we also make connections through students and staff. Upon coming across a university that we think would make a great partner, we send out direct emails as well. Each of these partnerships begins with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which we agree on certain activities such as student exchange, research partnerships, etc. We value an active partnership the most — one that allows students from both universities to grow and learn from each other. 

Tell us more about your academic journey.

I did my Bachelor’s in St. Petersburg, majoring in foreign studies with an emphasis on Scandinavian countries. Apart from English, I also learned the Finnish language. I had several subjects about Scandinavian history and culture. Then, I went abroad to pursue a Master’s degree in Education Management and Leadership. I studied at the University of Southampton in the UK. 

And currently, I am applying all my knowledge of international relations and educational leadership here at ITMO as an employee of the international admissions office.

What do you like the most about your job?

I like working with students from different countries. I enjoy introducing them to Russian culture. Hearing about their experiences of studying at ITMO, making new friends, and learning Russian makes me very satisfied. These stories are the reason why I love my job.

What are some of the most memorable incidents in your career here?

When I joined ITMO in August 2018, I was mostly responsible for the summer and winter schools. My first big challenge came in February 2019, when a group of Japanese students from Kindai University visited ITMO. I had planned everything so well. The program was supposed to be flawless. 

However, a construction mishap at the Lomonosova campus ruined everything. We had to immediately relocate the students. To add to the thrill, there was a spree of bomb scares in the city, as well. Now we were responsible for not only safely relocating the students but also managing their anxieties. It was difficult and scary but in the end, I was able to handle the situation.

Ekaterina, a keen traveler, enjoying a trip to Paris. Photo courtesy of the subject

Ekaterina, a keen traveler, enjoying a trip to Paris. Photo courtesy of the subject

How do you like to spend your leisure time?

Cooking is my hobby. So, I love to spend my free time cooking different cuisines. I also enjoy traveling, watching TV shows, and playing video games. One of my favorite activities is spending time with my cat.

Are you more connected with your office colleagues or school friends?

I am mostly connected with the members of the several communities that I am part of. I feel more comfortable with them. I believe like-minded people are the best ones to be with.

What are your future plans?

It is a difficult question to answer, but I would like to grow more in my sphere and do my work in the best way possible. I always focus on becoming a better version of myself. That’s who I am!