Meet Valentini, the International Relations Alumna
The sky is not the limit... The deep space maybe
Valentini Aristotelous graduated from ACT in 2003 and she is working as permanent staff to the European Space Agency (ESA) in the ESTEC (European Space Research and Technical Centre) establishment located in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. For the last ten years, she has been working in the GALILEO Project (Europe’s satellite navigation system) as management and administrative assistant of two teams, Space Segment, and Navigation Security Office. Space Segment is responsible for the satellite procurement and launching, and the Navigation Security Office is responsible for the physical and personal security and for information protection of the project.
You are currently working in the European Space Agency, which seems quite fascinating. Tell us a little bit about your job there, and how would you describe the Agency as a working environment for young people?
My day-to-day activities vary, but some of my main responsibilities are mission, meeting and event organization as well as attendance, IT system management tools, such as Sharepoint, and managing the launch deployment plan with active participation during the launch campaign. The working environment is indeed fascinating. Not only because of the establishment itself (yes, there are sports facilities, including a swimming pool, sauna, and a golf course!) but because of the multicultural and space-related Agency’s roots and its culture of shared values and principles amongst colleagues. ESA offers several programmes for young students as well as several recruitment opportunities.
Did your studies at ACT prepare you for the career you are pursuing? Have you thought about your next steps?
Apart from developing my skills in the English language, through the ACT courses, I advanced my critical and analytical thinking skills such as using the SWOT technique and lesson-learned cases. Further, I learned how to become resourceful and problem-solving oriented. However, the most important lesson I learned at ACT was never to give up on my educational, and later, on my professional goals.
Accepting failure and learning from it is as important as enjoying any success. Step back, reassess and move on are key skills that serve you well in all areas of your life. My aspiration is to grow vertically on my current position, by increasing responsibility.
Do not take anything for granted because everyone is replaceable. Always give your best performance, regardless of the situation. Be satisfied if the outcome is positive, and learn and improve if it is not so positive. – Valentini Aristotelous
Why did you choose to study International Relations?
The actual name of the bachelor degree I received is “History and International Relations (Major) with a concentration on Foreign Affairs and International Relations and in International Business (Minor). History, diplomacy, political theory and current politics fascinated me since I was a child. I felt that I had to raise this interest to academic level.
How would you evaluate your overall experience at ACT?
I come from a family of three children; my other two siblings were receiving already higher education as per United States educational standards. Therefore, it was more due to an influence from my parents who encouraged me to follow academic studies with an American degree. This gave me the opportunity to spend my college years in an amazing campus with classmates with whom I kept friendship until now. Moreover, I will never forget the instructors who inspired me to expand my educational venture.
What would you advice a young girl who is thinking of studying International Relations?
Achieving a degree in International Relations offers unlimited opportunities for further studies and work prospects. Those of a graduate with an IR degree range from politics and law to economics and management. My personal advice in conjunction with IR studies is to be fluent in as many languages as possible (at least three or four European languages) and receive personal and professional experience through internships and voluntary work (paid/unpaid) during undergraduate and graduate studies. We live in a world on which companies require multilingual and skilled employees with working experience in a multicultural environment. The working experience provided by internships and voluntary work gives a priceless added value in order to open the first professional door.
Is the sky really the limit?
For an idiomatic expression, I strongly agree. However, if taken literally, I would say the limit is much higher: “Deep space would set your limits much beyond the sky”.
I encourage young students and graduates to keep on chasing their dreams and always think positive. Acquiring a positive mind-set, being a hard worker and finding the balance between study/working and personal life increases the probability of success, feeling complete and happy. Do not take anything for granted because everyone is replaceable. Give always your best performance regardless of the situation. Be satisfied if the outcome is positive, and learn, and improve if it is not so positive.