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Kristiyan Dimitrov (‘15) on Earning the Tchaprachikoff Scholarship: „Plan Ahead, Gain Experience, Build Relationships”

Alumnus Kristiyan Dimitrov (‘15) has been awarded the AUBG Tchaprachikoff scholarship that supports Bulgarian alumni accepted to a top graduate program in the U.S.  A mathematics and business administration major back at AUBG, Kristiyan was offered admission at six top universities in the States and chose to study a Master of Science in Analytics at Northwestern University.

In this interview, Kristiyan talks about the things he learned at AUBG, the people he met along the way and the experience he gained working at Google’s headquarters in Ireland — all of which ultimately helped him secure a place at one of the best universities in the world.  

What was your first job after AUBG? What have you been up to ever since?

I joined Google after graduating from AUBG. My first role involved supporting Bulgarian advertisers and agencies as a Google Ads Specialist. So, if you called Google with an AdWords-related question, I might have been one of the people to pick up the phone and answer it. After 1.5 years of helping clients in this way, I became a Measurement & Attribution Specialist. While in this role, I helped some of Google’s largest clients across Europe optimize their marketing campaigns using Google’s suite of data and analytics products.

Fun fact: As a side project, I was responsible for selecting which Google Doodles appeared on the Google homepage in Bulgaria!

What prompted you to pursue a Master of Science in Analytics and why did you choose to apply to Northwestern University's program in particular?

I chose to pursue graduate studies because I wished to continue learning and developing myself. More specifically, I wanted to advance my technical skills in order to further discover interesting career options. I’ve seen first-hand the amazing applications of Machine Learning and Data Science within many of Google’s products. From automating marketing campaigns to detecting cancer cells in biopsy images - the opportunities are wide-ranging and inspiring. My goal is to be part of creating such tools in the future.

Of the six universities that offered me admission to their programs, I chose Northwestern because their Master of Science in Analytics is so well crafted and thought out. The courses included in the program build on each other and they are designed to develop skills that are much in demand in today’s tech industry. Furthermore, for the duration of the program, Northwestern provides students with constant access to real-world projects supplied by industry partners. The cherry on top is an obligatory summer internship. Other significant factors I considered are the location, cost and reputation of the program.

What role would the Tchaprachikoff scholarship play in your academic and career development?

Without the possibility of securing the Tchaprachikoff scholarship, I might never have applied for graduate studies at such a prestigious university. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. The scholarship opened my eyes to the possibility of going to a university that previously would have felt inaccessible to me.

Now that I've secured my place at Northwestern, the Tchaprachikoff scholarship is a strong stimulus for me to make the most of this incredible opportunity. Receiving this scholarship is a huge vote of confidence on behalf of AUBG and the scholarship committee. I look forward to continue making my alma mater proud.

What would you advise other alumni who would like to use this scholarship opportunity in the future?

Plan ahead, get some solid work experience and build good relationships with people you meet along the way.

Plan ahead: I planned to go to graduate school while at AUBG. I spent most of the summer before my senior year preparing for the GRE exam because I correctly anticipated that, after graduating, I would never again have the same amount of time to devote to preparing for the exam. I ended up taking the GRE at the start of the fall semester of my senior year, with the intention of using the score for graduate school before it expired in five years. When it came to applying for graduate courses, I cast a wide net and spent approximately six months applying to a total of 14 graduate programs, all of which fulfilled the Tchaprachikoff scholarship requirements. It took a lot of planning to make sure I had enough time to do the necessary research and gather everything required by each institution.

Work experience: I’m glad I decided to work for several years before pursuing graduate studies. My experience in the professional world gave me valuable insights into what skills and behaviors are important. It also helped crystalize my interests and strengths. As a result, I felt confident in my choice of graduate degree and my ability to make the most out of it.

Build relationships: I am immensely grateful to professors Robert White and Kaloyan Slavov. Not only did the courses I took with them shape me as a graduate school candidate, but they kindly wrote me recommendations that were instrumental in getting me accepted to a range of universities.

Tell us a bit about your time at AUBG. In what ways have your AUBG education, experience, professors and friendships had an impact on your career and who you are today? Are you still in touch and collaborating with other AUBG graduates?

I loved my time at AUBG. I recall, as a freshman, being aware of just how much AUBG was broadening my mindset - both inside and outside the classroom.

The Business Administration major helped me understand businesses on a more holistic level by teaching me their primary functions: cash flow management, accounting, marketing, etc. Furthermore, the Business Ethics course with Prof. Robert White helped me consciously form my philosophy in both business and life in general.

At AUBG I also realized I love applying computational software to real-world challenges. While I’ve always been very interested in mathematics, I managed to refine this passion in these three great courses: Numerical Analysis with Prof. Kaloyan Slavov (now teaching at ETH Zurich) and Econometrics 1 & 2 with Professor Didar Erdinc. These were also instrumental in shaping my choice of a graduate degree.

I had a lot of fun in my extracurricular activities and discovered I love being in front of an audience. I participated in multiple theatre plays, musicals and even delivered a talk at TEDxAUBG. These experiences have been very valuable in my professional development. The public speaking experience I gained at AUBG prepared me for presenting at multiple Google conferences in front of 400+ Google clients. I’ve since realized how incredibly important it is to communicate in an effective manner; people don’t just care about what you say, they care about how you say it.

Finally, I am very happy to say that some of my best friends at Google are actually fellow AUBG alumni. Their drive and companionship motivate me to strive for great things and remind me of the great place that AUBG is.

Interview by Dimana Doneva

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