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Azerbaijan Country Information

Azerbaijan Country Director:
Gulnur Ismayil
Career Management Center Director
ADA University
Azerbaijan@AsiaPacificCDA.org




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ADA University: A Model of Higher Education Institution-Business Cooperation by Gulnur Ismayil

Abstract: ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan, focuses on preparing students for a rewarding and accomplished future. This preparation includes exposing its students to ADA's ample resources for career and leadership development throughout their program of study. Both coursework and professional career development are tailored to best leverage their strengths and interests in school and beyond, where business enterprises are welcome to take an active part.

How Career Development Has Changed in this Part of the World

Azerbaijan is a transcontinental country situated where Eastern Europe and Western Asia meet. Its borders touch upon the Caspian Sea, Russia, Georgia, Iran, and Armenia. Just a decade ago, this part of the world would not think of a need for career counseling and guidance. Azerbaijan, like many countries of the former Soviet Union, have known placement processes widely practiced across major higher education institutions and, in particular, employment offered to its Science, Technological, Engineering, and Math students. Each student had a chance to get hired by an employer in a related industry based on hard core knowledge and some technical abilities. Rarely students had the opportunity to get the professional support in analyzing their skills, interests and aptitudes to ensure a real match and right fit.

In the early 1990s that practice started to dissolve as the Soviet Union collapsed. When each country earned its independence, transformation of their education system started. No longer were students able to think they had secure jobs waiting for them upon graduation. Slowly, employability skills came to be an important issue for educational institutions in many countries, and Azerbaijan is leading the region that brought up the concern of graduate career success.

Establishing the University-Industry Collaboration

ADA University brought a new approach to the University-Industry collaboration and started effective career preparation and development for its students while at school. Established in 2006 as a training vehicle for young diplomats, Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy opened its doors in 2009 for the first graduate class of a Diplomacy and International Affairs major. Since that time, ADA University has grown extensively. In 2011, the first Bachelor's degree cohort was admitted to the school. Later, this cohort became part of the University, including its International and Public Affairs, Business, Education, Information Technology and Engineering Schools.

Today, ADA University is not just about introducing new educational approaches and bringing international opportunities to its students. It also is about new trends that are shaping generations of open-minded, skilled, well-rounded young citizens with strong cultural roots and heritage.

ADA focuses on a holistic approach to student development that includes active, in-class engagement, group work, team assignments, and career ownership. An ADA graduate is a highly intellectual solution provider and close collaborator with a high sense of ethical citizenship and effective communication abilities. [Editor's Note: Wow, very impressive!]

ADA's Career Management Center plays a major role in the experience of our students. It offers individual career counseling and helps in charting a course for students' careers, from job searching through ADA's extensive professional network, to assisting students with job leads and internships tailored to meet their specific career interests.

Aligning the University with Market Trends and Demands

ADA University sets its curriculum and programs in line with market trends and demands. Curriculum mapping is one of the key features of the close cooperation between its schools and the Career Management Center. Recently, there has been a highly competitive job market where "being employed" is not a secure state of well-being. Being employable is the most important component of an ADA graduate's job search. So, what can be done to help fresh graduates cope with the challenging realities of high competition, increasing unemployment, economic turnovers, and inconsistency of education programs with job market demands? One answer is to bridge graduates' talents with industries and careers, including:

  1. Let the Job Market Speak: Survey major employers and assess their hiring needs, preferences, requirements, and expectations of candidates for hire
  2. Bring Employers On Campus: Create an engaging environment for employers on campus via presentations, a speaker series, career fairs, networking events and industry panels
  3. Give a Say: Allow industry leaders to take ownership for curriculum through setting up advisory boards and engaging them in program development, mentorship programs and promotion
  4. Encourage Experiential Learning environment: Establish partnership agreements with employers to offer regular volunteering, internship, projects, capstone and employment opportunities for students/li>
  5. Mentoring Opportunities: Bring prominent executives and ambassadors for a professional mentorship program where students may be coached by an experienced practitioner
  6. Teaching and In-Class Engagement: Invite qualified business and public sector representatives to offer courses or co-instruct with professors
  7. Engage in Professional Development Programs: Recruit industry experts to participate in career seminars and workshops as well as individual career planning sessions

In summary, employer on-campus participation sets a unique study and work environment where students get hands-on experience and information about major career trends while acquiring fundamental degree knowledge. Engagement of employers in student development helps not only new graduates learn and succeed in their job search, it also helps employers to prepare and develop potential talent for their businesses, have a greater access to the best qualified graduates, and ensure earlier engagement and preparation.

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Ms. Gulnur Ismayil is a qualified Global Career Development Facilitator with more than 10 years of experience in career development and guidance. Ms. Ismayil is currently holding position of Career Management Center Director at ADA University, Baku, Azerbaijan. Before joining ADA University, Gulnur worked for the international executive recruitment agency, Michael Page International, in Moscow, Russia. There, she facilitated establishment of a new business line in Sales and Marketing for the Healthcare and Government sectors with the extensive personnel match and development for the relevant businesses. She holds a degree in Area Studies from Volgograd State University, Russia, and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. Alongside the active membership in NACE and NCDA associations, Ms. Ismayil has obtained a postgraduate certificate in Talent and Career Management from the Charted Institute for Personnel and Development, UK.

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