Asya Velichkova (’20): ‘One does not simply graduate from AUBG and forget about it’
A person with a big heart, a passion for helping others, and a constant smile on her face – this is alumna Asya Velichkova. She graduated from AUBG in May 2020 and found a job in the marketing field, a challenge she was already prepared for thanks to her experience as President of the Better Community Club at AUBG and the Marketing Head of StartUP@Blagoevgrad. As a co-founder of the AUBG MultiTalent Quest and a student who has worked with Admissions and OCC, Asya says that at the university she has met wonderful people who have become her friends and role-models. Now an alumna, Asya wants to continue contributing to the university and has just joined the AUBG Alumni Association (AAA) as a Director-at-Large. We spoke to her to hear more about her objectives as part of AAA, her student memories and life after graduation.
What are the three most interesting things the AUBG community should know about you?
As most of the people at AUBG know, I’m really into community work. I love the club activities at the university and I was absolutely devoted to the clubs I was part of. These were StartUP and Better Community Club. So, they’ve been a huge part of my life. The second thing is that I love parties and spending time with my friends and my classmates outside the classroom. And, the third is that I’m an extremely smiley and positive person. I love helping other people. I love being around my friends. So I think there are the three things that describe me the most.
If you have to describe yourself with one word, what would it be and why?
That’s a very interesting question! Probably, I would describe myself as a smiley person because that’s what most people always tell me. My long-time friends and even strangers say that I am always smiling no matter what the situation is.
How did you learn about AUBG? Why did you decide to study at our university? What did you find most meaningful about the liberal arts education?
It wasn't hard to learn about AUBG given that I’m from Blagoevgrad and I graduated from the local Foreign Language High School. I always had AUBG on mind. I applied to a couple of other universities in Europe and one in the States. But the thing was that none of them gave me the opportunity to choose between different options. Since a very young age I was into computer [science], but also into geography and business. And all the time I was thinking about which is the best option for me – to go study computer science or to go study business. And none of the other universities gave me that opportunity that AUBG provided me with. So, I just decided that’s the best option for me because it’s close to my family, it’s close to my home and I had the opportunity to graduate with two majors which was very important for me.
The most meaningful thing for me was that freedom of choice, that no matter the standing, you can choose subjects, you can go and try them, you can find out if you like them or not. During my first year, I decided that I was going to study Business & Computer Science. But after the first class I took in the computer lab, I realized that wasn’t my thing and I shifted to Information Systems. I had the ability to study various things which shaped my personality, and helped me build my soft skills as well.
You were the President of the Better Community Club and the Marketing Head of the StartUP@Blagoevgrad. What impact did those extracurricular activities have on your personal and professional growth?
To be honest, these two clubs developed me as the person who I am today. Apart from the studies and the education that I was getting, I needed some skills in order to start developing myself as a competitive player on the market.
So, that’s the most important thing – they shaped me as a person, they helped me develop my skills and they were really preparing me for my personal life and business career. For example, we had numerous StartUP weekends and conferences that we were organizing. I was part of the Marketing Department team for four years and for one year I was the Marketing Head of it. We had great time and we put great efforts in order to develop StartUP as a team, to build a marketing strategy.
From the other hand, the Better Community Club and my role as a president there, it was extremely crucial in my life because it helped me build my leadership skills – I needed to manage many new people, to be a project manager, to be the marketing manager and I had to be sure that everything is going smoothly in the team, to take care of the HR management, which is a great opportunity. And that’s why I was taking all of the club activities so seriously – because that’s exactly the place where you’re building your skills, you’re meeting sponsors for the events – we wouldn’t be prepared to know what to expect from the world and the business community after we step out of AUBG without their help.
You are a co-founder of the AUBG MultiTalent Quest. What has been your experience as part of the quest?
My experience as part of the AUBG MultiTalent Quest started even before studying at AUBG. It was August 2016. It was something unknown to me and something brand new. I jumped on board. It was a very, very intense process, we had to invent the Quest using our creativity.
After that, when we already had something like a plan of execution, I was responsible for the strategy development and the recruitment of the AUBGers. The AUBG MultiTalent Quest is a competition which is for eleven-graders, but in the same time it requires to have the whole AUBG body working – so that we can have something big, and we needed facilitators -- AUBG students -- and at that time I was freshman and most of my friends were freshmen. So, the first generation of facilitators were my friends and people that were interested in the idea of having an AUBG MultiTalent Quest, people that are inspired by the idea of having this competition on campus. I was also responsible for the design and the marketing of the competition and at that time I was working very closely with the AUBG Marketing Office and also Admissions because they’re helping a lot with what I was doing, and I was helping them. So, it was a joint contribution in order to build what we have now. I was also facilitator, I was a trainer of the facilitators and for two years now I’ve been a jury member, and now probably as an AUBG alumna, I’m going to be helping from the side of the Alumni Association.
You were also part of the Admissions team as an Admissions Ambassador. Why did you decide to help with Admissions at AUBG and what was your experience there?
Admission has been one of my favorite offices at AUBG since the very beginning of my AUBG journey. That’s the place where you go and these are the people you call whenever you have questions during the enrolment process, and after that – with the selection of classes and so on. At one place, we have the most smiley, positive, and nice people. And, it was an amazing opportunity for me to work with them, to get to know them better because they have one of the most difficult jobs, but one of the most pleasant ones at the same time. They are giving their time to the people that are going to be AUBG students, and the parents of the AUBG students. So, they are taking every single person very seriously. They are paying special attention to all the candidates and I wanted to be part of that. But this only was not enough for me – so, I was part of the AUBG Admissions team, but also of the OCC team – for four years, I was working there. Probably most of the JMC students know that because they were coming to the office, they were taking cameras and microphones. So, that’s an amazing team I was part of and now I’m super grateful they gave me the opportunity to work with them, get to know them and get experience from them.
After completing your studies in May 2020, you are currently a marketing and community manager at Anveli Group Ltd. How difficult was it to find a job right after graduation? What has been your professional experience so far?
As my role model – [AUBG Professor] Sabina Wien – says, “if you believe in something and if you believe in yourself, then nothing is difficult.” Motivation is crucial. I was extremely motivated and I already had a plan what I need in my life and how I want to proceed with it. So, I didn’t wait for May, I found a job in February. It was like a very long journey because as I person fresh out of college, you are not secure enough about your skills. And it is very difficult to be competitive in the filed of marketing. So, I applied, the interview was in two stages, a theoretical and practical part that included tasks related to strategic marketing, design, video editing and building a development strategy for the expansion of the market. And, yeah, couple of months later, they called me. I am part of the Anveli Marketing team and we have dental clinics in five countries in Europe. So, up till now, I am extremely happy to work there, and without the help of AUBG, the skills that I got in the clubs and the education from the classes and the knowledge that I got, I was not going to make it.
How does your typical workday look like?
First of all, to start with that, we are a multinational team. We have Bulgarians, French people – the sales force department, people from Morocco. My work there starts at ten am – with a morning coffee with the colleagues. I communicate closely with the sales manager because marketing without sales and sales without marketing – that would be mission impossible. So, we work very close in order to obtain our mutual growth because if the sales are going up, it means that the marketing is working and when the marketing is working, then they have good sales. That’s how we start the morning – with a small briefing with a cup of coffee. Then, I begin with the tracking of how the marketing campaigns on the different platforms are going. Now I am also responsible for the Arabic market since we are trying to penetrate it. So, I communicate with the Arabic clients and patients that we have. I am also doing many analyses to check the performance of the company. I am editing the photos and the videos that I need. Every day, we have different meetings with companies regarding the services we use in collaboration with them. It is a very interesting company. It is pretty amazing working with all the people in the company. And, having in mind that there is a mini multi-cultural society there, it works perfectly for me since I love the diversity – that’s why I was part of AUBG as well.
You have recently become a Director-at-Large at AAA. Why is it important for you to stay involved with AUBG even after graduation? In what ways do you hope to contribute as part of AAA?
One does not simply graduate from AUBG and forget about it. I know it from my friends and my personal experience. Even though I graduated in May, I still have AUBG close to my heart, the people there, the clubs and the professors that I keep communicating with. That’s why I decided to apply for the AUBG Alumni Association. For me, that’s like a major job and an opportunity provider and shaper for the AUBG students because in the AUBG Alumni Association there are many brave, motivated people who want to help other AUBGers build their careers. So that’s why it was crucial to me to be part of it because I want to give back to AUBG, because there were many people who used to help me get my scholarships. That’s what I’m planning to do in my future – give the opportunity to other people to make their dreams come true and start studying at AUBG.
As an AUBG alumna, what would you advice current students on how to take the most out of their university years?
I would say join the clubs – for me, that’s something obligatory. Because, yeah, we’re getting our knowledge from the classes and everything, but in order to obtain some skills, to build your character as a person, to be ready for the real life, you need to have some soft skills, you need to know how to communicate with people, you need to know how to manage people, you need to know how to work in a team and take decisions in highly pressured times. That’s what the AUBG clubs provide. Also, it’s a lot of fun – you meet your friends there and even people who can be your future business partners. The other things I would advise them is not to miss any opportunities. The AUBG community is so rich with events that we are organizing, from social entrepreneurship competitions, IT competitions, the TEDx, Olympics, the Dance Crew, to all of the charity activities that we are having with BCC. These are all activities which are helping the AUBG community, which are helping every single person to start developing his or her way, to find what he or she wants and in that way start gaining experience as part of different competitions and activities.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In my free time what I enjoy the most is watching TV, being around my friends, travelling with my friends. I love the time when I’m surrounded by people I love. And I also love the time when I’m alone by myself – reading books or coding, watching TV, cooking. So I have various hobbies but my biggest hobby is being with friends – it doesn’t matter if we’re at home sitting on the coach and just chit-chatting or we’re somewhere outside, horse-riding or going for walks. I just love the time when I am surrounded by my friends and my family.
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
I will start from the professional view point: my plan for the future is is to develop myself as a very strong player in the marketing sphere. I have many role models. in future, I want to be able to give back to the AUBG community – to give back to the people who need support, no matter if it’s about the development of their career, or fulfilling their scholarship criteria. That's my vision for myself in future – to be a good marketing team lead and at the same time be a happy person. In my personal life, I see myself surrounded by the same people I have now, by my family. I really hope that I would build my own family because at my age people start thinking about having families, kids, but we will see how that's going.