Besian Xhezo: “There are plenty of things to take advantage of while at AUBG. You just have to be eager to explore. Make the best out of it.”

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For the outside observers, the life of AUBG alumni seems unbelievably straightforward: graduating, applying for a first job, and reaching the dream employment in no more than a couple of years. Then, it is all about setting new goals and further developing the success story, as if by magic. Besian Xhezo, however, remembers it differently. His story is one about making choices, getting involved, and hoping that it will turn out for the best.

He grew up in Tirana during the shift from the remnants of communism in Albania to “what was emerging as an infantile democracy.” A regular childhood at that time, he says. Old enough to have some experience with the transition – the word that has marked life on the Balkans for the last twenty years. And yet, too young to sense the depression of the period.

Upon finishing high school, he was already intent on receiving a “Western education,” but his financial options were narrow. The alternatives, as he saw them, were the Albanian state university and AUBG. The latter was established quite recently, and his knowledge about it was limited to the fact that recruiters had visited Tirana. Although his uncle insisted on AUBG, Xhezo had doubts until finally confirming his enrollment. Looking back, he says, “Unaware at the time, I had made the right [choice].”
The tough choices did not stop there. In 2002, when Xhezo came to AUBG, he planned to do Business Administration, like approximately 85% of his class, he recalls. He ended up majoring in Political Science and International Relations, as well as European Studies.

As he advises the current students, “There are plenty of things to take advantage of while at AUBG. You just have to be eager to explore. Make the best out of it.”

And he did. He became an SG Senator and later Student Representative to the Board of Trustees. He played soccer, basketball, and volleyball. In the meantime, he also participated in the Debate Club, More Honors Academy, and Driving Club. For him, extracurricular activities have always been an essential component of the experience, which AUBG offers.

After graduating, Xhezo returned to Tirana. “I thought it was finally time to test what I was worth out of the class,” he adds. At that point, he could reap the fruits of his efforts at the university: “when it comes to finding a job, they [AUBG-ers in Albania] only have the burden of choice.” He explains that, on the one hand, employers highly value the alumni. On the other hand, the alumni themselves easily impress with their CVs and at interviews.

For him, the United Nations was a professional dream. Xhezo applied for the position of Project Manager of a pilot UN initiative, concerned with introducing Albanian youths to the role of the international organization. In Albania, the United Nations currently implements a reform called “Delivering as One UN.” Its purpose is to ensure coherence between the various UN agencies in the country, so that they function under common principles and the guidance of the state’s UN Resident Coordinator. In this context, Xhezo now works as Coordination Analyst for Non-Resident Agencies in Albania, providing harmonization between the efforts of the resident and non-resident UN agencies and the Albanian government.

Judging from his work experience, he believes that the most important abilities he has acquired at AUBG – both inside and outside the classroom – are the communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. He has learned how to manage his personal strengths and weaknesses, so that he can make the best out of them. “And how to never say ‘no, I don’t know how to do this’, but instead say ‘sure, let me look at it’,” he adds. In fact, he rates these skills as some of the decisive factors that give AUBG alumni a competitive advantage over other professionals in the region.

Despite being satisfied with his position, he has not stopped dreaming and making plans. He intends to pursue a higher degree, perhaps in international development, and join similar UN projects in other developing regions of the world, such as Africa and Central Asia.

Xhezo has already re-visited the university, and he promises to do so in the future. For him, “it is impossible to leave AUBG once and for all.” Although he admits that the campus has changed considerably, he still feels strongly connected to it. “AUBG somehow always felt like this island of a different mindset. Time stopped there. No matter how many students, how many new and old buildings, AUBG-ers will always share a common bond,” he says.

When it comes to assessing his own success, he is less confident, yet open to the surprises of the future: “Personally, I think I have come far enough in two years from graduation. But I have also learned that there is still a lot ahead, and this is just the beginning.” 

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