NU SSH Student Stories: Interview with Nurdana Adylkhanova about her experience in Japan
Please tell us about your background and why you chose BA in Political Science and International Relations?
When I was a junior high school student, I was selected as an international student by HiroSemi Project, which gave me an exclusive opportunity to study at Japanese high school and participate at peace activities in Japan. This experience brought me to the study of international relations.
What were your research interests while studying at the university? Were you able to publish papers or take part in conferences?
My main research interests were the politics of post-Soviet countries, mainly the Ukraine conflict, as well as the nation-building and identity in post-Soviet space.
Which courses did you like the most? Why?
There were many courses that I really liked and it’s hard to name all of them.
But I think that the courses where I could advance my research skills the most were Professor Helene Thibault’s course on Advanced Topics in Comparative Politics, Professor Ho Koh’s class on Foreign Policy Analysis, and Social Science and Research Methods class led by Professor Azamat Junisbai. Also I would like to thank Dr. Erika Alpert for giving me an opportunity to assist on her research project and gain valuable research experience.
Can you tell us about NU (SSH) faculty a little, how important are they in a student’s study life? Perhaps you have a favorite one?
Our SSH faculty is full of inspiring, interesting, and supportive professors and mentors.
I would like to give special thanks to my advisor Dr. Spencer Willardson who has always been very dedicated to his work with students and have supported me during my academic journey at NU.
We heard that you work in an IT company in Japan. Could you please tell us about your work? What do you do? What is your position?
I work at an IT Company that builds its own applications based on the Salesforce CRM platform. My main role as a Salesforce Consultant at the Customer Success Department is to ensure successful adoption of our products. I am responsible for working with both Japanese and international clients.
How did you find this job? And how was the application process?
I was recommended for this position by members of my professional network. The application process included 2 interviews and documentation screening, after which I was accepted for the job.
How did studying at NU SSH help you with your career choice so far?
During my academic journey at NU SHS, I realized that international sphere is where I could realize my full potential and contribute the most. NU helped me not only to build a strong theoretical foundation, but it also provided a space, where I could advance my soft skills and learn to think critically.
What skills are most valued by employees in foreign companies abroad?
I think that in a fast-paced environment that we are living in, the important qualities are adaptability, flexibility, readiness to constantly learn and grow, as well as communication skills.
Do you work closely with the Japanese? How are they at work?
Yes, I work mostly with the Japanese. Our managers encourage work-life balance and care about well-being of their employees. We have a flexible work schedule, opportunity to work from home, free counseling services to deal with stress, and many initiatives to promote healthy lifestyle. Generally, my colleagues are well-disciplined and very dedicated to their work. But also, they are fun to work with.
What qualities of the Japanese would you advise the Kazakh people to adopt?
My favorite trait in all people, generally, is punctuality. Personally, I don’t like when people cancel meetings at the last moment or forget to meet deadlines.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In what fields do you want to work? Are there any KZ companies, organizations you would like to work at?
In 10 years, I expect myself to be an experienced professional who is passionate about her job. Also I want to be surrounded by my family, kids, and maybe get a dog.
In what fields do you want to work?
For the next years, I am thinking about continuing to develop as a professional in IT field, where I could work closely with international partners and clients.
Are there any KZ companies, you would like to work at?
To be honest, I need more research on KZ companies to answer this question. I have heard that the number of start-ups and companies is growing from year to year, which is delightful to hear. Who knows, maybe I will build my own company in future, where I would like to work.
Based on your student experience, what advice would you give to newly minded students? Any suggestions?
Various internships, volunteering, and entrepreneurship experience – all of this helped me to learn more about me and my interests. I think it’s always important to give it a try, and not to be afraid to challenge yourself.