Where are you now, Stefani Kostadinova?

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Stefani Kostadinova's picture

Where do you work now?

I am currently working at the SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. I am interning here for the summer, before I go back to finish my last year of college at the American University in Bulgaria. I am a part of the Managed Services department under Products and Innovation. I am mainly working on reporting on key performance indicators; I am also the “financial person” in my team, meaning that financial questions and issues get directed to me. I have also done some internal marketing, such as working on the announcement of new deals and clients acquired.

The internship has been extremely useful for me because I am not being treated as an intern, but as a responsible team member. I have projects of my own; for example, I created a KPI reporting dashboard tailored to the needs of the department. In addition to getting my own projects, my supervisor relies on me to report directly to our manager, making me accountable for my own work. For these reasons, the internship has been invaluable as a learning experience.

Recruiting Experience and Personal Development

I got invited to an interview in a rather unconventional manner — I submitted an online application. I am using the word “unconventional” here not because it is an uncommon strategy among job applicants (quite the contrary, actually), but because from what I have heard and from what I have experienced myself, people rarely get contacted for an interview invitation after applying online. This was certainly the case with me — I filled out numerous online applications to no avail. My future boss, however, took the time to read through all the resumes and shortlist candidates, which is unusual in an age of resume-screening software. Even though I got where I am now in an unusual way, I would advise others to keep networking, rather than rely solely on online applications.

There is one big takeaway from my application experience that I believe would be useful to any young job seeker. One of the main reasons I was invited for an interview were my previous internship and competition experiences. The person who hired me was interested in the type of work I did in my previous internship, as it was similar to the type of work I would do at SAP.  At no point did she ask about my GPA or course record. While these are undoubtedly important, I have come to believe that a person’s involvement in projects and competitions as well as her work experience are the decisive factors in receiving an interview invitation. For that reason, I would advise those looking for an internship or an entry-level position to focus on what they do outside of class just as much as they focus on their studies.

Project Firefly’s Role

That being said, Project Firefly has been a great advantage for me. It is certainly one of the reasons I am considered the “financial person” of the team — being a HOLT Champion certainly makes a candidate stand out. It also communicates that you have certain specialized knowledge, even if you do not have a lot of working experience, as in my case, for example. In addition, the skillset you get from Project Firefly’s competitions is transferable across industries. I am currently working for a software company, but I still use the analytical and logical approach to thinking that I used for the HOLT Valuation Challenge, for example. I do not work in finance and valuation, but the financial knowledge and critical thinking skills that HOLT helped me to develop have been a great asset in my current position in addition to helping me secure it. 



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