RIT Croatia, Class of 2009
Hospitality and Service Management (IHSM)
Employment: Rimac Automobili.
Job title: EU Funding Specialist
Ivana, tell us a bit about yourself and your RIT Croatia experience.
I studied at RIT Croatia in Dubrovnik from 2005 – 2009, and graduated in May 2009. The program I graduated from was Hospitality and Service Management. Best thing about the program was providing excellent insight into hospitality industry as well as preparing students for future challenges of the workplace environment through co-operative education and internships.
Where did your path lead you next, and finally where are you now and what are you working on?
Upon finishing my bachelor studies at RIT Croatia my next goal was to obtain the master’s degree. The path led me abroad to three different European countries where I stayed for the next two years doing the International Business and Management master’s program.
Furthermore, my career leading up to my current role as EU Funds Coordinator at Rimac Automobili has been quite a journey. I started working as a receptionist at a camping resort where I had the opportunity to gain communication and organizational skills which proved to be extremely helpful later in my career.
Wanting to learn more and experience corporate level of organization, I further took the job opportunity to work for Heineken Croatia. Although it was only a temporary job position, I found the opportunity to learn further from senior colleagues would be too valuable to decline. This position prepared me to cope with long overtime hours to meet the deadlines and gave me unique opportunity to further develop my organizational skills.
At the same time, I learned about job opening in a small startup company Rimac Automobili which would eventually define my career path. I decided leaving well-established corporation for employment in small startup was what I wanted to do because the possibility of working with small and talented team while witnessing company growth was a chance I did not want to miss. My first posting there was in a role of Administrative Officer where I gained necessary skills in human relations as well as high level organization processes. After almost two years working on that position, I was promoted to my current role as EU Funds Coordinator as the company grew bigger and some of the critical projects were co-funded from national and EU funds.
Over the years at Rimac Automobili, was there a project you worked on that you are especially proud of?
If I need to single out one project, that would be development and production of the company’s new EV CTwo. Working on that project meant constant communication with all our departments in Rimac Automobili (R&D, Production, Management) to get familiar with all the processes and steps needed to design, produce, assemble and sell the product while having to handle all the necessary reporting documentation toward the government bodies. Although the workload was extremely high, it was very rewarding because there was something new to learn every day. Looking back at it now, that was the first project where I was finally able to put all my skills obtained during the studies and previous postings to good use.
How important is quality education in dealing with unexpected and challenging times? How has RIT Croatia specifically, prepared you for this?
I cannot stress enough the importance of quality education is as it forms a solid foundation which will be your biggest asset to achieve goals when dealing with stressful and challenging projects. Having confidence in the knowledge and skills gained during my education helped me further develop my career by knowing that I am well-equipped to cope with any challenge that may arise. Through the well balanced theoretical and practical curriculum at RIT Croatia I was able to gain my first and most valuable skills in communication, business ethics, management as well as time management skills. Having faculty members who were able to convey their extensive knowledge in the art of business is what made all the difference for me to define my future career goals.
How important was the experience you gained during your internships for you when you started your career? How do you see the culture of internships developing in the future?
During my internships I was able to put my newly gained theoretical knowledge into first-hand practical experience and overcome some fears by building confidence which will later prove to be essential. What I have found most valuable was the opportunity to get professional feedback from colleagues and mentors which helped me further hone my newly gained skills that allowed me to build my resume to be a little bit different from other individuals in this competitive market. Although Croatia is still behind other western EU countries when it comes to internship culture, in the last few years I have noticed a trend in companies’ culture change. New emerging companies in Croatia are beginning to be more oriented toward fun working environment culture where creativity and open communication policy are encouraged. From that aspect, interns who have the opportunity to participate in that kind of environment have the possibility to learn and experience magnitudes more than it was possible only 5-7 years ago.
Thinking back on your days at RIT Croatia, what is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory from RIT Croatia is not a single event but a collection of memories where I have met so many fantastic people, got to know Dubrovnik and its every corner, enjoyed different events the college organized, participated in excellent courses delivered by extraordinary faculty, learnt a great deal which provided a great basis to extend my knowledge on master’s studies, made friends.
RIT Croatia alumni community is pretty strong, are you still in contact with your classmates?
RIT Croatia indeed has a very strong community however I am in contact with only a few classmates. Unfortunately, the nature of my current occupation does not allow me to participate as much as I would like to.
What is your message to our current and potential students?
To current students: while studying at RIT Croatia use the opportunity to take internships in different industries as you might learn the most where you least expect. If possible, do the internship abroad to experience the work culture across different countries. Be open-minded and make friends!
To potential students: speaking from my own experience at RIT Croatia I only have great memories to share. You will enjoy your student time, extracurricular activities, meeting people from all over the world and at the same time get well prepared for your future careers. Be sure to make the most of it!