Andrey Anastassov (‘10) on Making a Change in Society, One Step at a Time
Back at AUBG, Andrey Anastassov (‘10) studied European Studies and Journalism and Mass Communication and took part in a number of student activities including radio AURA, the Student Government, the newspaper DeFacto and Rendezvous- a student club dedicated to inviting inspiring speakers on campus. Upon graduation, Andrey completed a master’s degree in Political Science at Central European University where he focused his research on the concentration of ownership in private mass media in Bulgaria.
Ever since, Andrey has dedicated his career path on making a difference in society- first as a recruiter for Teach for Bulgaria—an NGO that aims to create positive change in education—and then as radio host at “Career for You”—a Bulgarian radio and internet platform that offers listeners information on interesting and useful opportunities for career development. Andrey also has experience working at IBM and VMware and is now owner of Junix - a consultancy firm that helps big employers connect with university students in a meaningful way.
What was your first destination after AUBG?
I completed a master’s degree in Political Science at Central European University (CEU) where I focused on Political Communication in Bulgaria. My thesis was on the topic of the concentration of ownership in private mass media in Bulgaria.
What did you do upon acquiring your master's degree?
I returned back home to Bulgaria. I stayed here for a year and started working for the NGO Teach for Bulgaria which is part of the global network of Teach for All. The program serves the purpose of eliminating the gap between achievements in school education in public schooling in Bulgaria, meaning the inequality of achievements of students coming from a different socioeconomic background. My goal and role there were to find motivated and leadership-oriented young people who would become teachers to those students. I was working with universities and was targeting the most proactive students to become teachers. While I worked there, I was also accepted for a summer internship at the European Parliament’s DG for Communication. I spent the summer of 2013 in Brussels, where I was responsible for adapting press releases and communication documents for Bulgaria’s audience. I also got acquainted with media monitoring and how the institution works during plenary sessions. Upon completion of the internship, I returned to Teach for Bulgaria as a permanent employee.
Would you recommend the Teach for Bulgaria program to recent graduates?
It is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is willing to stay in Bulgaria and contribute to society. There have been really good examples of people from AUBG joining the program, both in the team and as teachers. The teaching program actually delivers greater leadership opportunities as it puts the focus on self-development and self-improvement and it offers a mentorship program that features leaders in Bulgarian business and society that support the organization. Teach for Bulgaria is a great school for life as everyone who took part in it defines it as the most life-changing experience that they’ve had. By participating you can change children’s lives and change the course of education in Bulgaria and at the same time grow as a proactive leader in society and life. As a matter of fact, in Great Britain, this is one of the top choices for career development for young graduates from some of the top universities in the country. There, it is called Teach First. The logic is to teach first so that you can gain a really good experience in life and then do whatever you have decided and studied for next. I think this is a really great opportunity for anyone who is focused on helping society first.
What is the story behind the establishing of your company Junix?
Junix helps big organizations such as the European Commission and Carlsberg to effectively position themselves where top students are. It also helps students get familiar with their employment opportunities. The company is a natural continuation of the university relations experience that I gained at Teach for Bulgaria, IBM and VMware.
Nowadays you host a radio show. How do you hope you are helping change society as part of this project? In what ways is the “Career for You” show helping improve the business environment in Bulgaria?
We started the project a few months ago as the collective effort of myself, a couple of our co-founders who are running their own business, and a contributor who is a journalist. Our team has a mission— and our mission is to deliver career happiness in Bulgaria. The country is now really in the phase of revealing new opportunities for young people of every field and major. What we do is we accumulate our knowledge and our expertise in the area of business and human resources in order to be able to help everyone on the labor market.
What would be your advice to recent graduates who are now just entering the labor market?
I think that everyone has their own path of development that they need to trust and follow, without relying too much on anyone’s advice and without relying too much on any wide-spread prejudice about career and career development. My own rule is to be happy with what I’m doing. I have so far enjoyed 90 percent of the activities that were part of my job. Finding a career that is not within the lines of your university majors is also completely fine. But the most important thing that everyone should really adhere to is persistence and perseverance. Without these qualities, nothing is achievable in the long term and in a sustainable way. I think one of the best things about life after AUBG is that we can fully explore our opportunities without any limitations while at the same time gathering from the experience of the liberal arts and the freedom to be flexible and adjustable to different environments. Combining this with commitment and perseverance, you can achieve anything.
Speaking of AUBG, to what extent do you think your AUBG experience shaped who you are today and helped you in your career and life?
What I was doing at my first job was exactly the same as some of my extracurricular activities at the university. At AUBG, we were organizing events featuring influential people and meetings between influential people and AUBG students. This was pretty much the same as what I was doing later on at Teach for Bulgaria as part of my duties. A lot of the extracurricular activities that AUBG offers are actually real-life initiatives that could, later on, be part of your ways of earning income. AUBG also taught me how to communicate with people that are outside of my immediate circle, people from all over the world, and people from different towns in my country. This eased my communication and helped me get along with everyone much easier than most of the people who haven’t been part of such an international community in their university.
What extracurricular activities were you part of at AUBG?
We ran an initiative called Rendezvous where we invited influential people on campus. I was also part of Radio AURA and, for a short period of time, I was helping at the university newspaper De Facto and at the Student Government.
Has your radio experience at AUBG helped you with your current experience at the radio?
Yes, in fact currently my work in the career show as a host is truly a continuation of what we were doing at Radio AURA. There is a story behind it. I was invited on Darik radio just as a guest and I mentioned to my current co-owner of the project that I was missing the radio because I was part of a radio in my student years. “You know what, we were actually planning to set up a new radio show,” she said. “Maybe you could be interested?” It turned out that we get along very well and that is how I became a member of the new team and the new radio show.
Interview by Dimana Doneva