The Bolashak International Scholarship Programme is one of Kazakhstan’s most successful educational initiatives. The programme sends some of Kazakhstan’s best and brightest college students to study abroad at the world’s elite universities on the agreement that they return to Kazakhstan after graduation and work on behalf of the country for a period of time.
The programme is very popular among Kazakhstan’s young people who send in applications year after year. So The Astana Times caught up with three Bolashak programme graduates, Talgat Ramazanov, Daniyar Bakhtagaliyev and Nargis Saginova, to discuss life after the scholarship.
“My Dream Job”
“I am very happy and thankful to the Bolashak programme and our President that I had an opportunity to fulfill myself as a professional in that very unique field of industry of naval architecture in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the country which is mostly situated inland,” said Ramazanov, who received his Master of Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, United States, class of 2013.
“After coming back to Kazakhstan, I expected to find a good job immediately. But to find a job for a marine engineer in Kazakhstan was not an easy task. The marine and naval architecture industry is not yet developed in Kazakhstan, a country which is located very far from the oceans. The only place where a marine engineer can work in Kazakhstan is Aktau city, which is located on the shore of the Caspian Sea. I started applying for a job in that city and was not very successful at that time. Then, after three or four months of job hunting, I decided to start my work experience at Nazarbayev University School of Engineering in Astana as a laboratory assistant at NU Research and Innovations Systems. The work was interesting, however, it was not my dream job. I wanted to use my skills and knowledge as a marine engineer in my job. I kept looking for a job and after five months of searching, I finally found a job at Kazmortransflot, the national maritime shipping company. The only marine operator in Kazakhstan, the national company deals with transportation of oil and other cargo in the Caspian Sea and international waters.”
Ramazanov’s dream is to keep working and contribute to the development of Kazakh naval architecture and marine engineering.
“Studying and Working”
“Now I understand that the Bolashak programme not only gave me a diploma and a ‘Bolashak graduate’ label; it also gave me an opportunity to find and develop my professional skills, to become a highly-qualified specialist and to get experience that I could bring and use back home,” Bakhtagaliyev told The Astana Times. Bakhtagaliyev received a bachelor of statistics in 2013 from George Washington University in the United States.
“I never considered myself to be a better candidate for a prospective job since I was lacking work experience, tonnes of various useful skills and mostly understanding the difference between studying and working,” said Bakhtagaliyev, who now works for Philip Morris Kazakhstan as a statistics and reporting engineer.
“My first interview happened three days after I arrived in Almaty at the National Bank of Kazakhstan and I got my first job the same day. Now I am not really sure what would have happened if I hadn’t studied really hard and become competent in my area of expertise.”
“I remember the day”
Nargis Saginova earned a Bachelor of Public Policy and Management in 2012 from York University, Canada and gives much credit to the Bolashak programme.
“Bolashak gave me the chance to become stronger and wiser and the know how to set goals and what should be done to achieve them,” said Saginova. “I remember the day after returning to Kazakhstan very clearly. A young graduate is full of ambitions, ideas and what’s more important, a great desire to implement the knowledge that I have acquired, with lots of questions inside. A variety of feelings embraced my soul: excitement, fear, huge responsibility, happiness, peradventure.”
Saginova is now a head manager at the Bolashak Alumni Relations Office at the Centre for International Programmes.
Looking back, Ramazanov, Bakhtagaliyev and Saginova say they are thankful they were able to take part in the Bolashak scholarship programme and the opportunities it has given them to work to develop the country as “Bolashakers,” as they are known.