Guest Post: Besik Turazashvili, NYUAD Class of 2014.
I began researching this year's summer internship opportunities in December of 2011, as I wanted to find a position that would contribute significantly toward my major and my interests, and make me more specialized in the fields of economics and marketing. I applied to a variety of positions and among those I was offered were opportunities in Paris, Moscow, and Buenos Aires; but I made the choice to spend this summer in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I was a legal & tax service assistant and marketing and PR manager at Ernst & Young (E&Y), one of the world's largest audit companies.
I am ethnically Georgian, but was born in Russia and lived there most of my life, studied in Italy, and then was accepted to NYUAD. Thus I had never lived in Georgia. It was quite a difficult decision to go to Tbilisi alone and start an independent life there, despite the short length of my stay. But it was a nice surprise to learn that Ernst & Young has a nice office in the heart of the old town, which is extremely beautiful and popular with tourists whose numbers each year rival the population of the entire country.
Iva Khokhlov (pictured above, right), law practice leader at E&Y, was my mentor and boss, who assigned me projects and made my experience smooth and interesting. I met Iva in 2011 at the Tiflis Avenue Art Gallery, one of the top art centers in Georgia. As marketing and PR manager I conducted market research to determine requirements for existing advertising materials and for creating better future products. I managed several projects, including designing three advertising catalogs for different company departments, holding photo shoots with other employees, and creating a database for the company's future needs in advertising materials. I was also responsible for managing the marketing resources of the corporation and designing advertisements that will be published in a local magazine.
In addition to my marketing and PR manager duties, I was a personal assistant to the head of the HR department. There, I helped with the recruitment of new staff members and assisted the head of HR during meetings with the partners. I also worked closely with senior directorial staff to provide administrative support and perform secretarial and administrative tasks, including the organization of a two-day trip to Khevsureti, a part of Georgia high in the mountains, for approximately 75 people. For me, the most difficult part was negotiating a contract with the tour operator to ensure that every small detail was accounted for, and making sure everything went well. By the end of the internship, I had completed a variety of projects and I have to say that I learned a lot from this experience — multi-tasking included!
It was quite surprising to get a summer internship with Ernst & Young, as the company generally accepts just third- and fourth-year students.
One aspect of the internship that I really enjoyed was the interaction with the local community. It made me realize how people think and act in that part of the world, which, before the summer, I had only associated with summer vacations at the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. I had never been that close to my people. And an added bonus; working at E&Y was very helpful for my language skills. I was required to use several of them every day, not just because the partners are located in 140 countries, but to communicate with the employees in the Georgian office who, like my classmates, are from many different countries and cultural backgrounds.
It was quite surprising to get a summer internship with E&Y, as the company generally accepts just third- and fourth-year students, but I think the experience and knowledge I gained during my internship at NYUAD's Career Development Center — and the advice I received on my visits to the center — as well as my time in the marketing department of PR agency Hill+Knowlton, helped me a great deal. Meeting and collaborating with people of different backgrounds is part of the unique experience of NYUAD and this is helpful when working individually or as part of a team at big corporations like E&Y.
While in Georgia I also interned at the Institute of International Education, one of the world's largest and most experienced international education and training organizations. My main goal was to share my experiences at NYUAD with top students in Georgia who study in the country's most prestigious institutions, have studied abroad, or just show outstanding talent. As part of the internship I organized and managed a conference at the American Councils in Tbilisi, where I presented information about the University and explained the application process. I also reached out to a few schools and collaborated with them to share the opportunity of studying at a global university with students who could never imagine it possible.
This summer was really productive for me and I learned a lot from each and every person I worked with. That each employee, from intern to top partner and manager, was willing to share his or her knowledge and experience with me was amazing. My time at E&Y also made me feel confident in my decision to work in the field of marketing, and I am sure that this experience has made me grow professionally and that it will help me in my future career. Because of this internship, I plan to contact E&Y in Abu Dhabi to inquire about opportunities and continue this wonderful way of gaining more experience.