Meet Polina Belopashentseva, a graduate student from Russia working on her MBA in Marketing at Columbia University. With a professional history in banking and consulting as well as a wide variety of interests, Polina has been making the most of her time in New York City. We caught up with Polina to talk about her I-House Experience and aspirations.
Tell us a little about your background. Where are you from, and what inspired you to apply to live at I-House?
I was born in Moscow, and Russian is my native language. I came to New York to study at Columbia Business School. Mathematics is part of my background as well – I studied math as an undergrad, and it has influenced my thinking. McKinsey & Co and Tinkoff Bank were my first workplaces and taught me a lot, so I’d put them as my background too.
Having lived in my home city all my life, I was a little bit fearful of moving to New York City alone, being in a rented apartment by myself, and having no one to ask for help or advice. When I learned about the I-House, I felt that I should live here. The values of the community coincide with mine, and living in a residence with students and scholars from all over the world appealed to me.
Tell us about your work. What are you studying?
I study marketing at Columbia Business School. I believe marketing is a crucial component of any business, and throughout my work experience, I happily took on the marketing duties of any project. To me, marketing is making the calculations to understand what people want (even if they themselves don’t know what they want) and then satisfying people’s needs. To be successful in marketing, one should be very creative and strategic at the same time. I find the field fascinating and can’t wait to apply what I have learned in my future work.
What are your favorite things about living here?
I like that there are always plenty of ways to meet people: by taking part in events and activities (like foreign language sessions and workouts), or just by coming to the common lounges or the Dining Hall. And there are also places to spend some time in solitude and work in silence (Dodge Hall and Study Center).
What’s next for you?
Right after I graduate from Columbia Business School, I will join a management consulting firm.
How has your experience being a part of this community helped you progress?
It’s been particularly cool to meet an alumna of my marketing program at Columbia and to learn from her experience. She gave me advice on how to navigate the program, which courses are really tough, when to apply for an SSN and OPT, and most importantly, has become my friend. I feel very grateful for this connection, as well as many others I have made here. I-House turned out to be even more friendly and welcoming than I could have expected. I met many amazing people whom I genuinely admire and learn from.
Do you have any advice for people who are just now considering whether they should apply to live at I-House?
At the International House, you can learn about different cultures from people from different countries and make friends with students from the many different schools of Columbia and other institutions of New York. If you are interested in these benefits, apply to live in the I-House. For me personally, I-House has greatly enriched my experience as a grad student and given me a warm home in New York where I have never felt alone.