The FINANCIAL – Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, full of possibilities but also many challenges. It offers a tremendous opportunity to boost your career and personal skills. It is therefore not surprising to see the number of students living abroad steadily increasing.
Nevertheless, there are many students who do not feel ready to take this life-changing step. We would like to inspire them by sharing the success story of N26’s Jr. Data Analyst Tamari Tsverikmazashvili.
From studying at candlelight in her little house in Gurjaani to getting her dream job in Germany, Tamari has come a long way to pursue her dreams, and studying abroad was one of the main keys to her success. Here are some of the challenges she faced by studying abroad that will eventually become the benefits of her experience.
Learning a new language
In most cases, the first challenge of moving abroad is not really knowing the language, which may be quite discouraging at first.
Tamari was only 15 when she won a scholarship in Iowa. She moved there knowing only a few words of English. Within a year she got the chance to really improve her language skills in a way that would allow her to study at the best universities all over the world.
Becoming a strong independent person
One of the scariest things when it comes to studying abroad is having to establish yourself in a completely different environment, where you don’t have any safety net of family and friends.
Tamari had to face the same challenge, which was particularly hard when she moved to China; a completely different culture, so far from home. At first, it was really difficult. However, she did not give up and managed to establish herself there and enjoy her new lifestyle. This change gave her the opportunity to travel all over Asia and make new friends along the way.
Embarking on this journey on her own really boosted her confidence and made her a stronger, more independent person.
Discovering career opportunities that you couldn’t find back home
Many students study abroad with the intention of going back to their country once they finish their academic journey. Many others decide to stay in the new country, in most cases because they are presented with great job opportunities.
After her degree in Tbilisi, an Erasmus in Venice and a scholarship in China, Tamari decided to move to Germany. She was admitted to Humboldt University in Berlin, where she did a master’s in Science, Economics, and Management.
Moving to Berlin, she became a client of N26, embracing the values of one of the fastest-growing tech companies that is very popular among students. After 2 failed applications she finally got an internship within the company and now enjoys a permanent position. She is grateful to have found a job she loves as a result of her unique study-abroad experience.
Some final advice
Whatever your career and life dreams may be, don’t miss out on the opportunity of studying abroad just because of fear. Tamari’s Georgian roots shaped her early life and dreams, her travelling shaped her future and career, and you can do the same!
Tamari Tsverikmazashvili on her studies, travels, and journey to N26
We sat down with Tamari to chat about her studies, travels, and what she loves most about her role at N26. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us a little about your childhood.
I’m from a very small town in the country of Georgia. We didn’t even have electricity growing up—I studied by candlelight. In my geography books, I would see these foriegn countries and longed to go to them, to explore different languages and cultures. But we didn’t have any access to a computer or the internet.
Then, when I was 15, there was a country-wide competition conducted by the U.S. Department of State, choosing top talent and sponsoring visas to study in the U.S. for one year. After going through four stages of competition, I found out that I had been selected.
That must have been an incredible feeling, to be selected for such a prestigious program. Were you nervous?
I was. It was the first time I’d ever left my family and gone to another continent. I didn’t even speak proper English at this point. I lived with an American family in Iowa, went to high school, and learned to use a computer for the first time.
At the same time, it was really exciting. It gave me a lot of opportunities, especially to improve my English. When I came back to Georgia, my goal was to get a scholarship and study abroad.
Where did you go to college and what did you study?
I did my bachelor’s at Tbilisi State University, the best state university in Georgia. I studied economics there on a full scholarship. Then, I did an Erasmus in Venice, Italy at the University Ca’ Foscari.
After that, I received a full scholarship to do my master’s in International Business at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in China. It was a great experience for me because China is a completely different culture. Just being there, having a chance to travel around Asia and meet so many amazing people—it really motivated me.
Next, I decided I wanted to move to Germany, and was admitted to Humboldt University in Berlin, where I did a master’s in Science, Economics, and Management.
College is a formative time for many of us. What stuck with you the most?
Probably the relationships I built with my university professors. I’m still friends with my professors from Georgia, for example. We’re still in touch.
In Italy, I was struck by this fairy tale life I got to live. The university was right in the city center, and I would walk along the water to get to class or to my teaching assistant job.
In China, it was the first time I felt really lonely, which made it a time of personal development. Suddenly, I had to establish myself in a completely different environment with people I’d never met. And it was hard at the beginning—but in the end, I realized that it had made me very strong.
How did you end up at N26?
I’ve loved N26 ever since I moved to Berlin. I was a customer, and it’s generally very famous among students as a big tech company here. I applied a couple of times, but I was always rejected. But I didn’t give up!
In my final semester at Humboldt, there was an internship opportunity and I was selected. Then, after just five months, they offered me a full-time position. I’m really happy to be part of this big N26 family, and I really enjoy working here.
What do you like most about your job at N26?
I would say my team, because that’s where your love for your job starts. Obviously I love analytics, I love solving problems, I love working with numbers and statistics. But I would say I love my team first and foremost.
I also really love using data to answer questions. Data gives you direction—it means that you’re not blind anymore, and I believe that you can only prove what you can measure. What’s more, I really feel my impact, which also gives me purpose and a passion for my job.
How do you apply the skills you learned in your degrees to your current role?
There are technical skills I learned in college that I use regularly, such as statistics. I work with lots of numbers and data, so statistics is always essential when we build a model or when I analyze data.
But there are other skills that are perhaps more important, because they’re the skills that are built over time, and not in one six-month course. And those are teamwork, communication, respect, and structurally approaching problems. I think the most important skills are the skills you start to learn in kindergarten—the skills that come with time.
Looking back, what life lessons did you take from your time at college?
When I was at Humboldt University, it was really hard for me at the beginning, and I didn’t really believe in myself. Some mandatory courses were really difficult for me. But in the end, I worked hard and even got good grades. So, I learned that sometimes you may not believe in yourself, but when you work hard enough, you can do anything. It might take time, but you can still do it.
Another takeaway is to be open. Sometimes, we want to stick with the one thing we’re good at, and do it our whole lives. But that’s not how it works. The more open you are—the more diverse your mindset is—the more creative you become. This is really important in the workplace, but also in your personal life: to have different perspectives on everything, to question everything.
What are your goals going forward?
I love working at N26, so at the moment, I don’t have any plans other than to just be here, grow within the company, and add value. I may even switch one day between different analytics spaces. But in general, I like the analytics route, because I see a lot of potential—and a lot of impact—in data.
What’s some advice you would give to current students?
I’ve also been lazy, I’ve also been lost, I’ve been rejected, and I’ve failed. But you always get back up. That’s the point of life: to always get up when you’re down and fight for something better. And if you’re stuck at the moment, that’s okay.
Also, acceptance is really key, in your personal or professional life. Just accept yourself, with your skills and your strengths. Not everyone can be strong in mathematics, for example, but if you can excel at painting, that’s amazing! We are all different, and accepting yourself for who you are is what’s going to make you succeed.