”Avenor prepared me really well for University and made the transition from school to University smoother. I felt very well prepared academically as I learnt how to work hard and be organised in all my subjects. I formed connections with my teachers who encouraged me and gave me confidence within myself. This made me more prepared mentally and emotionally for University and made me feel less intimidated about the big change. One of the most useful opportunities I have had at Avenor was the internship experiences we had. My practical work experiences during high school helped me choose my career path better and significantly improved my CV while at University. Having already experienced internships, made me more prepared and skilled for future job opportunities during and after University.”
Ana Ilinca graduated from Avenor International High School in 2020 and is a 3rd year student at City, University of London, where she studies Psychology and takes advantage of the practical training opportunities she has, just as she did in high school.
How did you take the decision to study Psychology ?
Ana: My two big passions in high school were Art and Psychology, so I was sure I would pursue one of them at University. After completing an Architecture course in New York, I decided that Psychology would be the better option for me, so I continued with a Psychology A Level in my last year of high school. I was supported by excellent Psychology teachers during my A levels, which made me fall in love with Psychology even more and made me sure that it was the subject I wanted to study further.
Avenor: How did Avenor prepare you for the University experience?
Ana: Avenor prepared me really well for University and made the transition from school to University smoother. I felt very well prepared academically as I learnt how to work hard and be organised in all my subjects. I formed connections with my teachers who encouraged me and gave me confidence within myself. This made me more prepared mentally and emotionally for University and made me feel less intimidated about the big change. One of the most useful opportunities I have had at Avenor was the internship experiences we had. My practical work experiences during high school helped me choose my career path better and significantly improved my CV while at University. Having already experienced internships, made me more prepared and skilled for future job opportunities during and after University.
Avenor: At this point in your life, how close is reality to the projection you made when you were a student at Avenor?
Ana: During my time at Avenor, I probably would have never thought I will be where I am today. I never expected to have as many work opportunities as I had and I thought my University experience would only be about studying, which was not the case at all. I was able to have a lot of different types of internships and placements which made my experience at City so much more complex and exciting. I was able to apply to be a Brand Ambassador at City, I did a 1-month work placement in the summer at the City’s Student’s Union and I am now doing a 9 month placement as a support worker at a mental health charity.
Avenor: How did Avenor help you to become the person you are today?
Ana: Avenor offered a supportive and comforting place to learn, grow and make mistakes, all done in a safe environment. I have formed amazing connections with teachers and students that helped me learn better and enjoy my time in highschool. I have formed strong friendships, which are still important to me now and a lot of the students from Avenor are also studying in London with me. I have met amazing teachers which encouraged me, taught me how to work hard and always believed in me. I believe teachers have a huge impact in your life and how you view yourself. Avenor connected me to some special teachers which made me believe in myself and showed me my potential.
Avenor: What advice do you have for our current students? What should they pay attention to? What should they do better during high school?
Ana: I would tell students to take advantage of their internships and choose them wisely. I think they are such a great opportunity to better understand what you will want to do in the future and to find out what you actually enjoy. There is so much variety to choose from and you can experiment and try so many different types of jobs, which is such a unique opportunity. I remember doing such an important 2-week internship that made me realise that I would really dislike working in that industry. It was something I was so passionate about, and I really saw myself having that career path. I was really thankful for the internship, which showed me the reality of certain industries and made me choose my path more easily. Furthermore, your internships will help you even if you are not sure which career path you want to take, which is very common and normal. In almost all internships you will find transferable skills which can be applied to any degree and career path.
Avenor: What are your co-curricular activities at the University?
Ana: I am currently doing a 1-year work placement, which is a part of my degree. I am working 4 days a week for 1 year, and I will be going to my final year of University in October 2023. I am a support worker at Likewise, a London-based mental health charity. This placement makes me graduate with so much more experience and many more skills. It also helps decide which path in Psychology I would like to specialise in.
Avenor: If you had to mention a person, an experience or an opportunity from your university life, which decisively influenced / helped / impressed you, what would it be?
Ana: I have felt very grateful with how supportive my University has been throughout my whole University experience. All the lecturers, tutors and staff are very receptive and have always been very open to help the students and answer questions. This was especially helpful in my first year, which was fully online. Having such a warm and supportive environment really improved my University experience throughout the more difficult times. We had a personal tutor and had meetings with him weekly and we had multiple points of contact for any specific issue. This made me feel less intimidated by my first year at University and made me feel more welcome.
Avenor: If you had to send a message to one of your teachers at Avenor who influenced you in a decisive way at some point, what would that message be?
Ana: My message is to Miss Mihaela Ancuta. She taught me how having a strong relationship between a teacher and a student can make anyone good at anything they want. Miss Mihaela modelled a wonderful and healthy student-teacher relationship and helped every student reach their full potential in Maths. She showed me how being encouraged by your teacher and being encouraged to work hard can make you excel. I have fallen in love with Math because of Miss Mihaela and I have learnt to have confidence in myself and in my Maths abilities. My statistics module in University was one of my best, and it is mainly because of the strong foundation I received from learning with her.