by Veselina Apostolova
Meet Irina Novakova, the right hand of European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, at least when it comes to handling international media. Irina is a 2005 AUBG graduate whose Brussels-bound journey to the European Union’s top employment opportunities began in European Studies and Journalism classes at AUBG. And it is exactly what she learned in those classes that prepared her to stand out once she got there.
“I use what I learned at AUBG every day – whether it is the intricacies of comitology which I had to master for my Policy-making in the EU course, or the invaluable KISS rule (standing for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’ – we learned that in Journalism class).”
As a press officer for Commissioner Georgieva (who is Bulgaria’s EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response), Irina is in charge of organizing campaigns and writing articles, website content, press releases, and briefings. In addition, Irina organizes press events and advises the commissioner on media issues. She attends high-level Brussels summits as often as she visits disaster sites around the world.
Irina says that AUBG helped her develop many skills that have proven to be invaluable in her career; among these skills are team work, concise writing, research abilities, critical thinking, curiosity, and perspective. Thanks to the excellent instruction by and guidance of professors like Cosmina Tanasoiu, Robert Phillips, Aernout van Lynden, and others, Irina developed the knowledge and confidence necessary for professional success.
When Irina first came to AUBG, she intended to pursue a major in Computer Science. But as she proceeded to take courses that interested and compelled her, she grew aware of the possibilities fields like political science and journalism would open up for her. “This is how I ended up with two majors and a minor – in Journalism and European Studies, along with a minor in International Relations – and a secret regret that I could not do more courses.”
The broad interdisciplinary nature of the European Studies major and the imminence of European accession in Bulgaria at the time determined the geographical focus of Irina’s academic pursuits. European Studies combines studying history, political philosophy, diplomacy, and macroeconomics – all fields a European Commission press officer needs to be competent in to thrive in their profession.
Irina also has a master’s degree in European Studies from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. To support herself, she worked as a correspondent for Bulgarian newspapers Dnevnik Daily and Capital Weekly for four years. “It was an exciting time, as I got to report on the last stages of Bulgaria and Romania’s preparation for EU accession and the first years of their membership in the EU,” she says. Irina has also worked as a freelance journalist and stringer for international publications like The Economist. She joined the European Commission in 2010.