Editor's note - Erëza Gjikolli is one of the newest alumni to join the 100+ KAEF alumni community. Through KAEF, Erëza graduated with an MS in Accounting Analytics at Bentley University as well as completed a graduate certificate in Business Analytics. During her studies, Erëza was also elected as the Graduate Student Association's (GSA) President at her university. She is currently working as the Program Development Supervisor at TEB Kosovo.
Why did you choose to study Accounting Analytics and what made you want to apply to KAEF?
From a very young age, I have known I would have a role in helping businesses grow. I have always been interested in knowing the inner workings of a well-established enterprise, what it takes for a company to succeed and the attributes of a good business plan. With my experience in startup advisory and my interest, I realized that in order to understand the business better – one would have to be able to speak the language of business a.k.a. accounting. So, accounting paired with new digital tools and the limitless amount of data is what I considered as having an edge and really establishing myself. My decision to apply to KAEF was very simple – I wanted to have an unparalleled learning experience in a prestigious institute as well as exposure to a cultural melting pot that is the United States.
What was the defining moment from your program experience and how did it shape you?
I cannot seem to pinpoint this at one single moment – it was more of a blend of between days and events. From the moment I received the email that I was admitted to the program, to the day I went to my first class, my first internship interview, my first rejection email, my first and only whale-watching cruise, my first midterm, my first late assignment and to the day I graduated, these events were building the version I am today. I have come back home with a plethora of skills and experiences that I get to share with my community each day.
What was the most challenging aspect of your time at Bentley? What was the most rewarding?
The biggest adjustment that I had to make while at Bentley was coming back to Kosovo and juggling between a full-time job and a 6- hour time difference. Although it was tiring at first, with a lot of commitment, planning, and several calendars (both print and digital), the transition became easier and classes more manageable. It just goes to show that we can achieve anything we put our minds to! As per rewarding, being elected as the Graduate Student Association’s (GSA) President really changed my experience at Bentley. Through the countless events with students, faculty, and external partners, I was able to share experiences, thoughts, and ideas with citizens of the world (from Peru to China). I tried new types of food, challenged myself into trying new activities, and just stepped out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, through the GSA, I forged connections and friendships that will last me a lifetime!
What is your advice to current and future fellows?
Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. When in doubt about anything (and I do mean ANYTHING), ask away. There are so many people you can reach out to (i.e., alumni for the application process) and resources you could refer to that can make ALL aspects of the application and actual graduate school easier.
What can you tell us about your future plans and the work you will be doing now that you are here in Kosovo?
Currently, my work is centered around providing disadvantaged businesses easier access to finance and non-financial services. As I learn more about the business ecosystem in Kosovo, in the future, I hope to establish my own advisory firm with a diverse roster of experts to help companies identify their barriers and devise creative solutions that address them.