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Migle Zvirblyte

Migle Zvirblyte, MA HRM

HRM Assistant, Director-General Human Resources, European Commission

MA International Human Resource Management and Employment Relations, 2011

Tell us a bit about what your role at the European Commission.

Our team is a key liaising point between the European Personnel Selection Office and European Commission, and we mainly contribute to the planning and organisation of competitions for officials and selections for temporary and contract staff.

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I chose Middlesex because it offered the ability to study in an international environment and it came with good recommendations from those who had studied there before.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

The MA International HRM and Employment Relations course had a really interesting programme of subjects and I always wanted to study from an international perspective, which the course also touched on.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

Gaining practical skills and working on concrete, 'real' projects was what I enjoyed the most. For example, I had to create an HR strategy for a company of my choosing, analyse the real issues it was facing and provide solutions to them. This made a real difference for me, not only studying theory but also focussing on practical skills.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Middlesex?

At Middlesex there is a real international atmosphere and you have course mates from around the world which is fantastic. I also really enjoyed engaging with my tutors as well as the extremely interesting subject areas and projects.

How has your course at Middlesex helped you to achieve your career goals?

Before entering Middlesex University I was studying Psychology, but my postgraduate studies at Middlesex helped me to acquire a unique set of skills by combining this with Human Resource Management. I was then able to start my career in EU Institutions working in the HR sector as a member of the Organisational Psychologists team, where I could put my academic knowledge into practice.

What was the benefit of doing a postgraduate degree to your career?

Postgraduate study enriched the knowledge that I gained during my bachelor's degree. Choosing a related, but at the same time quite different, subject for my postgraduate degree helped me to acquire a unique set of skills which has helped me establish my career.

I also found that my postgraduate studies very much focused on practical assignments, which helped me to easily put my knowledge into practice.

What key skills did you develop in your course which you were able to use in your jobs after graduation?

Team work, problem solving and resilience.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying a postgraduate degree at Middlesex?

Get the most out of your studies. Choose a course which is interesting to you and absorb all the knowledge that is shared wit . Collaborate with your course mates, especially those from other countries, as you will learn new things from them and broaden your views.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you get to where you are professionally today?

I believe that the international aspect of my course and the ability to 'think globally' which I acquired while studying at Middlesex helped me get into my current position at the European Commission.

Can you give an example of a time when you put the things you learned at Middlesex to practical use?

During the 'Recruitment Selection and Assessment' module I learned many things which I use at work every day. For example, at my current job I was developing a questionnaire and had to test its reliability and validity and I used the skills I learned here.

I also work a lot on Assessment Centres and while studying at Middlesex I had to plan an Assessment Centre for one of my projects. This helped me a lot in the beginning of my career, as straight away I could effectively contribute to the work of the Assessment Centre team.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

I always dreamt of working with people not 'papers', so I thought that Human Resource Management would be a field where I would have the opportunity to work with different people to improve their work life.

The industry is very rewarding and I really feel that I am doing something good when I find the right job for the right person or receive positive feedback from candidates.

The only drawback I can think of is probably the fact that I haven't managed to escape paper work! Working in HR involves preparation of different documents and contracts; however I always see the bigger picture and know that my work is valuable.

How did you get your first foot on the career ladder?

After graduating from Middlesex I started work in an entry-level position at an HR company. Even though I was not completely happy with my position I enjoyed the company and it gave me the opportunity to find out more about the industry.

This first experience improved my CV and helped me get accepted on the traineeship programme at the European Commission, which then led me to my current position.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Getting on to the traineeship scheme at the European Commission was my defining career break so far. There were a huge number of applicants and only a few positions on offer, so getting chosen for this programme was a great personal and professional achievement.

During the traineeship, I had the opportunity to learn from the some excellent HR professionals and this helped improve my skills to a great extent. It also confirmed for me that International HRM is the field I am passionate about and where I see my career heading.

What are the top three tips you would give to current students and recent graduates who are looking for a similar career to yourself?

After graduating try to get experience in the field of your studies via traineeships or even low paid jobs, just to get valuable experience. It will pay off in the future.

Be proactive in your first professional job. Raise questions, ask for extra tasks and show initiative.

Stay in touch with your course mates. They can give you valuable professional knowledge of the industry and may be able to provide career opportunities.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Believe and trust more in yourself and your capabilities.

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