You’re currently working as a “Referent Employer Branding & Digital Content” at E.ON headquarters in Essen. Please tell us more about the path you took to this career.
My current job is within the Group HR department. I am not directly in recruiting, but rather in strategic development. Before joining E.ON, I had already worked in the advertising industry as a copywriter and brand manager in Moscow for several years. Nevertheless, as a student, I could not count on a full-time position, so I joined E.ON in May 2018 after my first year in the Digital Media programme. In my first year, I worked 20 hours a week in a student job with a fixed rate (those with a Bachelor’s get 10 euros/hour, and those with a Master’s 12 euros). My reason for joining the company was not just money, but also the chance of improving my prospects and gaining a lot of international experience. My first full-time contract was limited to one year. Oftentimes, after graduation, you get offered a permanent role. In my case, due to the German bureaucracy and the COVID-19 crisis, I am quite happy to just have my job for another year.
What are your main tasks and responsibilities?
I am responsible for a complex range of tasks affecting employer brand internal and external popularity on the market. My job is to create the right Employer Value Proposition and communicate it effectively via all digital channels, while also building a comprehensive and effective recruitment marketing strategy and developing media activity in external and internal social networks. As a member of the Business Solutions team, I am responsible for conducting and processing workshops (candidate experience, the community of practice, onboarding), shooting and editing photo and video content for the E.ON brand (testimonials, key visuals, office videos), guiding part-time contractors, shaping the brand image and editing web content.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Right up until the COVID-19 crisis hit the business world, I would say the creativity and travel it entailed! Now it is about being creative without travel. I started travelling to take part in and conduct HR community global meetings, organize workshops, and film testimonials (business portraits of employees) right away in my first month of employment. Since May 2018, when I first started working at E.ON as a student, I have travelled to Lisbon, Budapest, Berlin, Hannover, Munich, Nottingham, Bolton, Derby, Malmö and this list was still growing until recently. Right now, I facilitate business meetings for different purposes, define best practices, and act as a digital ambassador for my colleagues. I consider this a nice outcome for the time I invested in my studies, you know.
Which important skills for this position did you acquire during your studies at Rhine-Waal University?
Effectively communicating with a group of people with different backgrounds and developing projects with them was a useful learning experience. My portfolio with projects I did while studying impressed my boss at the interview. My insights and experiences with German bureaucracy were also helpful. If you are eager to learn and know why, to what end, you are working so hard, then you will end up learning a lot. It’s the same reason why somebody not interested in a degree or course will not make any progress. I feel the most important thing to learn is when to recognize the opportunity. If something doesn’t work out at first, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will not get to where you want to end up. I have learned to be as flexible as possible thanks to the places I’ve lived and my failures and wins, which I learned through HSRW and living in Germany overall. The path worth traveling is often bumpy. Graduation day was one of the happiest moments on my path abroad.
You received a Blue Card after your studies. Can you briefly explain the requirements and the benefits of holding a Blue Card?
The requirements are quite tricky – you need to earn over 53,000 euros a year before taxes to qualify for a Blue Card or you need to be recognized as somebody with an essential job such as an IT specialist, in which case you must earn at least 42,000 euros a year before taxes. The latter was my case. To prove that I belonged to this group, E.ON provided me with a recommendation letter after my first year working as a student. It listed all of my job’s daily responsibilities and their significance. Oh, and you must also be employed in your area of qualification. That is why the word “Digital” was included in my title. Companies can adjust roles to fit this requirement. Of course, it always depends on the company, the role, and your relationship with your boss. Try to always create opportunities to show your indispensability to the company. Having unique skills and knowledge makes you valuable.
Looking back, how would you evaluate your degree program Digital Media?
I would say that it was essential for me as a non-German to break into a career in Germany. Due to a broad understanding of “digital study”, differences in education systems and teaching approaches, initially, classes may seem boring or classmates may behave unprofessionally because many tend to judge professors as customers judge the service they receive. If their expectations do not match reality, then their frustration and confusion will only continue to grow. Some students also need additional time to pass subjects or modules due to the terms of their learning agreement. You should keep in mind that the average graduation time is 5 semesters of study. If a degree programme says its only 3 semesters, it doesn’t mean that you will graduate in 3 semesters. I think 3 semesters is a very challenging pace for this degree, as it requires deep knowledge and insatiable curiosity, particularly for successful research.
If you had to describe Rhine-Waal University in three words, these would be…