An interview with Nicoleta-Simina Proștean
“Right from the start, I really appreciated the openness of the people of Cologne”
Nicoleta-Simina Proștean comes from the beautiful medieval city of Mediaş in Transylvania, Romania. She studied for her Bachelor in Cybernetics, Statistics and Business Informatics in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Vienna (Austria). In the autumn of 2012, Nicoleta embarked on a master programme in Cologne. She had a scholarship to study Economics and Information Systems at the University of Cologne from the Rochus und Beatrice Mummert Foundation and she went on to graduate in 2015.
After graduation, Nicoleta began her professional career, starting out as a consultant at MHP - A Porsche Company in Germany. Today she lives in Stuttgart and works on an international SAP project in the automotive industry.
In the following interview, she talks about her time as an international student at Cologne’s WiSo Faculty and what it was like starting a career after her master degree. And she gives some tips for international students!
What was your experience of Cologne and the WiSo Faculty as an international student?
Cologne is a multi-faceted city, with loads to do. It’s a very welcoming place – very open towards international guests. Right from the start, I really appreciated the openness of the people of Cologne. If you take part in Cologne’s carnival festivities (which you have to!), you soon get infected by their love of life. The green parks and pretty lakes give the city additional appeal. I often miss Lindenthal, the green district where I used to live.
The WiSo Faculty campus is very international and helps every single student feel at home. I remember the uni ran lots of events for us at the start of our programme, especially for the international students. That sped up the process of getting to know other students and made it easier to settle down in our new home.
How did your career develop after you took a Master in Economics in Cologne?
I started applying for jobs in Romania and in German-speaking countries straight after graduation. My international network gave me access to some very interesting offers of employment. I was specifically looking for a German company so that I could stay in touch with German business culture as it suits my personality and style of working very well. Fortunately, my credentials are in high demand in today’s digitised world of work. I did well in the selection interviews because the workshops included in the Mummert scholarship programme gave us considerable added value. That helped us improve our soft skills and get our careers off to a dynamic start.
You now work in IT consulting. Could you describe a typical day at work for us?
Well, I think everyone has heard of the typical consultant lifestyle. And I can confirm that you do practically live in hotels and out of suitcases. But there are lots of advantages that make it an appealing profession for someone like me – someone who’s active, inquisitive, communicative, solution-minded and always on the lookout for a challenge. Every day at work brings something new. You spend a lot of time in meetings, you have to be very flexible both in terms of working hours and the tasks you have to perform. But if, at the end of the day, you enjoy it all, then you’re happy.
What do you particularly like about your job?
My latest project gives me access to new working and business cultures as it constantly takes me to different European countries. The best thing about life as a consultant is that you get to know various business models in a very short time, which results in an amazingly steep learning curve in your own area of expertise.
Have your Economics studies helped you in your professional life?
The Master in Economics and Information Systems complemented my Bachelor in
Cybernetics, Statistics and Business Informatics really well, adding processual and business-relevant knowledge to my technical background. What got me where I am today is the person I have become, with my advanced language skills, excellent training, management education on the Mummert scholarship programme plus my international experience.
When you think back to your studies at the WiSo Faculty in Cologne, what’s your fondest memory?
My time in Cologne was wonderful and challenging. The programme itself was a challenge because I had to adapt to a new way of learning. My background prior to the programme was more technical and practical. For the master, I had to deal with a large volume of theoretical, formal and often abstract learning material.
But I have particularly fond memories of the term during which I worked as an assistant in the Department of Information Systems and Systems Development.
If you had to do it all again, would you still choose to study in Cologne and why?
Yes. The programme itself was excellent and the lecturers extremely professional. I really appreciated the fact that it was so easy for students to access the world of research. In Romania, there are hardly any opportunities to work as an assistant in a department so early on. My studies in Cologne were also very much linked to the Mummert group. Without my fellow scholarship holders, the whole experience would not have been as valuable for me.
But you do have to be aware that the weather in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is situated, can be very wet! Having said that, Cologne compensates for it with its lively, welcoming nature, its carnival and the openness of its inhabitants.
What three tips can you give us for our students? And have you got a special tip for international students?
#1 Take the plunge
Take advantage of the events organised by the Erasmus Student Network in Cologne, the University‘s Buddy programmes and the great team responsible for international students to help you find your feet quickly in your new home of Cologne!
#2 Revise strategically
Set up revision groups to make exam revision easier. It’s important to know how to revise, not just what to revise!
#3 Network and enjoy yourself
Enjoy the campus and the city! Be open towards new cultures, volunteer in student organisations and create your own network. Take advantage of your time as a student, read as much as you can and pursue your hobbies! One you start working, you won’t have so much free time anymore.
In a nutshell, my motto is the Latin “omnia mea mecum porto” (all that I am I carry within me) because human capital is the most valuable asset any organisation has.
Thank you for the interview!
About Nicoleta-Simina Proștean
Nicoleta-Simina Proștean comes from the beautiful medieval city of Mediaş in Transylvania, Romania. She studied for her Bachelor in Cybernetics, Statistics and Business Informatics in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and Vienna (Austria). In the autumn of 2012, Nicoleta embarked on a master programme in Cologne. She had a scholarship to study Economics and Information Systems at the University of Cologne from the Rochus und Beatrice Mummert Foundation and she went on to graduate in 2015. During her master studies, she was head of the Association of Romanian Students in Germany (germania.blogs.lsrs.ro).
She also worked as a student assistant in the Department of Information Systems and Systems Development, under Professor Werner Mellis, supporting a variety of research projects. To gain more practical experience, she spent a term as an intern in trading process management at OMV AG in Vienna.
After graduation, Nicoleta began her professional career, starting out as a consultant at MHP - A Porsche Company in Germany. Today she lives in Stuttgart and works on an international SAP project in the automotive industry. Nicoleta is a volunteer member of the Romanian CAESAR think tank, the political party PACT (Platform for Civic Action, founded in 2016) in Romania and the Rotaract Club (Rotary International). She is also responsible for cultural trips to Eastern European countries through the alumni association of the Rochus and Beatrice Mummert Foundation and for growing its alumni network.
Interview: Sarah Brender
(The interview was initially held in German.)