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Madina Yerkalina about moving to Italy, studying at Politecnico di Milano and a career at Vodafone Italia
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29.07.2022

Madina Yerkalina about moving to Italy, studying at Politecnico di Milano and a career at Vodafone Italia

Madina Yerkalina told how she graduated from the bachelor's degree at ENU, and then entered a major university in Italy. Now she works for Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile operators.


Madina Yerkalina, 23, city — Milan, Analytics&Insights Specialist, Vodafone Italia, @madinarkl

Мадина Еркалина

About moving

I come from Petropavlovsk. I received my bachelor's degree in Astana. I studied at the ENU with a degree in Thermal Power Engineering. While studying under the exchange program, I lived in Poland. During this time, I visited 11 European countries and made friends with people from all over the world. At the same time, I decided to get to the USA and the next year I went there under the Work & Travel program.

Мадина Еркалина

By the end of my studies, I decided that I would continue my studies abroad. I applied for various programs in Europe and the USA. I received refusals, scholarships, and discounts. As a result, I chose Politecnico di Milano. This is the best university in Italy, which is among the top 150 universities in the world according to the QS rating.

Now I am studying at Politecnico di Milano for a master's degree. Recently I have been working at Vodafone Italia.

About adaptations and difficulties

Italy's main problem is an invincible bureaucracy. I received my first residence permit for six months, and it turned out to activate the bank card only three months later.

Another disadvantage that everyone faces is technological backwardness compared to Kazakhstan. To apply for a residence permit, you need to buy a brand that is sold only in a tobacco shop. And you can apply only by mail.

Мадина Еркалина

Another difficulty in adapting is the language. Being in Milan, you can survive with knowledge of English, but you can fully live only by speaking Italian. Learning the language of the country in which you live is necessary in order to at least be able to protect your rights.

Immigration is the beginning of a new life


Most Italians are friendly. After a while, you have your own baker, barista, cashier. The sportiness of the locals is surprising. Despite a carbohydrate-rich diet, they manage to keep in good shape. In Milan, it seems like everyone is running. And you yourself succumb to a sporty mood, lead an active lifestyle. The local schedule also contributes to this. After 14:00, you will not be able to have lunch with the locals — lunch is strictly at 13:00. It's the same with dinner. You don't have to wait for dinner before 19:00. At 05:30, the city wakes up and makes noise: shops are being cleaned, bakery counters are being prepared and bars are opening.

For those who have recently moved abroad, it is important to find their people. It is desirable that they are not only Russian-speaking, but also local. Acculturation through communication with the locals is most effective. There are many traditions and features in Italy that vary from region to region, and discovering them for yourself is an exciting activity. Easter and Christmas holidays have become my favorite time of the year.

Мадина Еркалина

Immigration is the beginning of a new life. You learn to talk anew, discover a new world with your own characteristics, show strength of character and defend your rights. It is important to remain patient and believe in success.

About studying at the university


It took me a long time to get used to the university. In the first year I had only three subjects. But for each subject, students are given one or more projects that need to be carried out in a group. They are made up randomly, excluding the possibility of doing a project with a friend or with a person from your country. This is how soft skills develop and new acquaintances are made. There was no chair available on campus during exams, and during the pandemic, it was necessary to book a place in the library a week in advance. Students study a lot, and they like it.

How to look for a job in Italy


Getting an education in Italy does not guarantee a successful career, but a local diploma from a prestigious university has weight. To work here, it is not enough to know English. I am an employee of a British company, but all my colleagues are Italians who speak their native language. All training and meetings inside the office are held in Italian. Only meetings with colleagues from the UK, Spain, Turkey are in English. Therefore, I studied Italian on my own and with teachers, practiced with friends.

By the end of the last semester, I started looking for a job. It is important to do this in advance. LinkedIn helped me. This is a powerful social network where you should post your profile. Career Service from the university also helps, where you can apply to adjust your resume or to pass a trial interview with the RK. My university organizes career fairs twice a year, where you can establish contact with representatives of companies and leave a resume.

Мадина Еркалина

In Italy, as in many countries, connections are of great importance. If one of the employees can recommend you for a position, it will increase your chances. You need to approach the job search in an organized manner. I did this purposefully for about three months, kept an excel spreadsheet where I entered companies and positions, a contact person and feedback with further steps. I responded to five to ten positions a day, checking different sites: LinkedIn, Glassdoor, University Career Service, company websites.

A well-written resume is the main condition that you will be contacted. After that, you need to go through three or more interviews. It is important to talk about yourself as a good team player and about a possible contribution to the development of educational and work projects, to show professional skills. As an immigrant, when you are looking for a job, you already demonstrate determination and ability to cope with difficulties.

Having technical skills is good, but it's even better to develop soft skills. Self-confidence, the ability to be a good team player will help in finding a job.

After receiving the contract, some bureaucratic problems need to be solved: the conversion of a residence permit and the receipt of other documents. HR companies are rarely familiar with the process of hiring a foreigner, so you need to search for information yourself.

About the features of working at Vodafone


I am working and writing a master's degree on the topic of Metaverse Marketing. Vodafone is a provider of 5G technology, without which the existence of the metaverse is impossible. Therefore, I will conduct interviews with colleagues working on this project in order to obtain materials for a diploma.

Colleagues from the first days received me warmly. Before starting work, my colleagues and manager invited me to an aperitif, where during an informal conversation we got to know each other. In the first weeks in the office, they organized coffee breaks, joint lunches with colleagues from other departments. The company pays great attention to team building and networking, which is nice.

Мадина Еркалина

Two days a year, they allocate time for a day off from work, when each team organizes a joint active holiday. The culture of communication with management is also different. There is no distance in the team, communication takes place on you. There is confidence that your opinion is being heard.

The company invests in continuous employee training. There are agreements with educational platforms: Coursera, LinkedIn learning, language courses, thanks to which you can grow as a specialist. My manager reserves four hours a week for training for all team members. At this time, no one can set up a meeting for us.

Мадина Еркалина

A nice bonus — employees have access to a platform where you can find discount coupons and special offers for shopping, recreation, travel.

How did the move affect

Life in Italy gives many life lessons, but some were especially important. First, you need to work hard to fulfill your dreams. Secondly, it is necessary to be flexible and open to new things. Thirdly, to appreciate family and friends. Fourth, to know your rights and be able to declare them. And fifth, enjoy the wonderful city in which I live and appreciate every moment.

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