1. What led you to study public policy at CEU?
Studying public policy at CEU was a natural continuation of my undergraduate studies. I obtained a BA degree in political science from the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, where I took classes in public policy analysis. They left me intrigued, captivated, confused, and eager for more. Why CEU? I had encountered a few scholars who had graduated from CEU or cooperated with CEU faculty and they recommended this university. The Center for Policy Studies (CPS), which was in charge of the Public Policy program back then, was highly regarded in my academic circles. I did some research about its staff, projects, etc. and concluded that it would be a great next step in my life.
2. What do you remember most about your time at CEU?
Four things: courses, library, CBA grocery store, bed. These were the elements of my usual day. It was intense, and I remember that at first I was shocked. I had expected to have free weekends to discover the city and the country! However, after a period of adjustment, everything went smoothly, and actually my fondest memories are linked to the excellent student-professor rapport and the fact that working hard was actually commended.
3. What have you been engaged in professionally since graduating from CEU?
At the end of the MA program, I was admitted to an internship program at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental organization and the leading global migration agency. Specifically, I was selected to work at IOM's Regional Office for Central and South Eastern Europe. This subsequently turned into a regular job, and I worked with them for six years. I then worked as a consultant with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for two years and returned to IOM for a year-long research project. I am now back with UNHCR, working on staff training and development. In a nutshell, ten years after graduating from CEU's Public Policy program, I have worked with the leading international agencies in the field of migration and asylum, published several books and reports, attended and hosted numerous events, met amazing people, and even got myself a bunny as a pet.
4. How have your policy studies at CEU contributed to your career?
To begin with, the internship that jumpstarted my career was facilitated by CEU. Second, having completed a research degree, I often had an advantage when it came to developing and/or implementing research projects. I have had frequent opportunities to use the research skills I acquired at CEU in my work. Third, at CEU I developed my writing and drafting abilities, thanks to classes like "Academic Writing" and "Writing Effective Public Policy Papers" and to all the papers we wrote throughout the year. This has come in quite handy with all the grant proposals and reports I have had to write.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tough one. I have worked on issues linked to human mobility for more than a decade. It is something I took advantage of myself when I came to CEU, and I will definitely do so again. A lot of things could happen over the next five years. For example, I could be working in a senior position with an international organization or NGO or as a manager in a business organization, or I could be involved in some startup. Regardless of the outcome, I hope it will be a very enjoyable, character-building journey.
6. Do you have any advice for current students?
Enjoy the diversity of the university – diversity of faculty, experiences, generations, geographies, and backgrounds. For those who feel overwhelmed: hard work pays off. However, make sure you schedule some time away from your studies, even just an hour. For those who feel discouraged or somewhat disenchanted: you can't expect instant gratification, but do reflect critically on the skills you're gaining. They will be very useful for your professional career.
7. What is your favorite thing to do in Budapest?
I love biking around and discovering the city and its stories and the surrounding areas, especially the Danube bike path. Hiking is also fun. In the winter I like to decompress at the thermal spas. I also enjoy to a great extent the diversification of ethnic food offerings in recent years.