This week our interviews with Young Professionals in Denmark continue, and our latest candidate is Aleksandra Yakimova. She is Bulgarian and moved to Aalborg, Denmark in 2013 to study her bachelor's degree in computer science at University College Nordjylland with a top up in software development.
She loves the Danish education system because of its freedom to pick electives, and finds it challenging and intriguing. Therefore, she stayed in Denmark to complete her master's degree in Information Studies at Aalborg University. It was such a joy talking to her and hearing her Denmark story because it was full of enthusiasm, positivity, and motivation.
Tell me a little about yourself, and your background
I grew up in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. I completed my high school degree there which focused on German and French, life happened, and I ended up in Denmark. I started a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, but after two years I decided I'd rather go abroad because of the experience, and a better educational system. That's when I started studying at Aalborg University in 2013. When it came time to pick my master's degree, I chose information studies because I wanted to focus more on the user and not so much the coding. I wanted to know how the users see reality. In 2017 I decided to move to Copenhagen, and Aalborg University was kind enough to let me study at the campus here in Copenhagen.
Why did you decide to come to Denmark?
For me, Denmark is connected to fairy tales, honestly, this is one of the main reasons that I came to Denmark in the first place. Other than that, Denmark is not that big, and you can quickly get around the country, and it is extremely connected.
Was Denmark what you expected?
I arrived on a Sunday in Aalborg, and I was shocked. Everything is closed on Sundays, it was like a ghost town, I didn't understand where all the people were! Funnily enough, now on Sundays I don't go anywhere either; Sundays are for staying at home.
Was it hard for you to meet friends in Aalborg?
Bear in mind that Aalborg is a lot smaller than Copenhagen and doesn't get as many international people. It was hard to find local Danish friends. It wasn't until the Danish and International class were combined at university that I started becoming friends with Danish people. Other than that, I have always volunteered, which is also a great way of meeting people.
How did you come across the Young Professionals in Denmark program?
It was during my master's program that I heard about YPD, I was volunteering at University College of Northern Denmark. We basically helped people integrate, hosted parties, and events. One of the students in charge had a boyfriend who had been part of YPD, and she said that I should look out for admission openings.
Do you think the Young Professionals in Denmark program has helped you in any way?
Yes! We started receiving weekly newsletters with job openings throughout Denmark for internationals like myself. I started applying to some of these jobs, and that's how I got the job I have today. I also attended a lot of the events that YPD has hosted, and it gave me the opportunity to meet some great companies, as well as networking.
Are you looking to stay in Denmark once you are done studying?
I am definitely staying in Denmark for the next five years, and then maybe Sweden!
What is your role at Wunderman Nordic?
I work as an email campaign specialist and then had an amazing opportunity to join the UX Team as an intern Junior UX Researcher. The UX department is made up of some of the top people within the industry in my opinion. It was a great learning experience, hard, and a challenge, but that's how you learn new things!
What was the application process like for Wunderman Nordic?
First it was a CV and cover letter followed by two interviews.
If you could give a piece of advice to someone who is moving to Denmark, what would it be?
Don't be afraid to apply for jobs even the professional ones, just go for it! Here people are open to international people so do not let that hold you back. Secondly, I would recommend completing your education in Denmark. It's a good education system because it gives you freedom as well as a lot of electives that allow you to tailor your course to the subjects you enjoy.
Also, there are so many volunteering opportunities in Copenhagen. So even if you are a poor student, you can always volunteer. For example, last year I really wanted to go to Copenhell, a metal festival. It is very expensive and difficult for a student to afford it. So, I volunteered at the festival and in return could attend the event for free. There's always a way in Copenhagen, you just have to find it.