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Issue 21 Presenting Alumni

Julia Hamblin-Trué: “Seek discomfort – the uncomfortable things we say yes to make us grow the most”

🕒 35 min

This issue comes with yet another alumni interview. This time we wish to present to you Julia Hamblin-Trué, a pretty loyal alumni member and, as you’ll probably agree after getting to know her, a Swiss knife of Summer School of Science. Julia is currently an undergraduate student at CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, where she studies Product Management. Her Summer School of Science journey started back in 2017 when she was a participant in S3++ camp. Continue reading and you’ll find out how her S3++ journey continued, where she is now and how she got there.

Julia Hamblin-Trué
BCs in Product Management
CODE University of Applied Sciences
Germany

S3++ 2017 participant
S3++ 2018 participant
S3++ 2019 project leader
S3++ 2021 project leader

So Julia, for starters, a “not so easy” question: can you give us a short introduction about yourself?

Let’s see. I am 21 years old and I grew up in Berlin. I say Berlin instead of Germany because I think Berlin is in many ways different from the rest of Germany, which, now that I think about it, has influenced my personality in many ways. Another thing that I think played a big role in forming my personality is the fact that I grew up with two siblings. Although I’m a middle child, in a way I’m also the older sibling because my brother is 10 years older than I am and he moved out when I was young so he wasn’t there for our sister’s childhood that much, meaning I’ve been the role model to my 4 years younger sister. However, it was, and still is, very nice to have someone older to look up to, that being my brother. We’ve shared some beautiful memories together and I appreciate him very much.

I couldn’t agree more, it’s a blessing to have a role model in your life, but I believe that being someone else’s role model even more inspires you to do things you never would have had the courage to do. What makes Berlin so special in your life?

Mainly the fact that it is a very multicultural and diverse city, home to people with different backgrounds, cultures and languages. I grew up in an international family – my dad is from Germany, my mum is originally from Canada, but she moved to the USA when she was young and her dad’s heritage is Colombian. I believe that being exposed to different cultures from such an early age in my own home made me a very open-minded, outgoing and curious person. That also influenced my decision to enroll in an international school and now an international college. In that way, I was constantly exposed to a multicultural environment – at home with my family and in school with my classmates and professors. I find the rest of Germany less cosmopolitan and more conservative than Berlin and I have never really felt “at home” in Germany other than Berlin.

Would you say that the fact you never really felt like a German had some negative effects on you emotionally? It must have been confusing for you, especially when you were younger and at the peak of your formative years.

I think I took on so much of Canadian and Colombian culture that I sometimes felt like I fit in less in the culture I grew up in. Although, like I said, I don’t notice that as much in Berlin, at least not when I’m in an international setting like at college, but when I’m just with Germans I notice it’s not always a good fit and it sometimes makes me a bit sad that I can’t resonate with my own culture as much. And that feeling is definitely confusing for every child when you’re still learning who you are and who you want to be. It’s normal to want to fit in and be like the others, or to look for yourself in others, especially since we as humans depend on the connections we make with other people around us. So when you don’t find that connection with others it can get a bit lonely, like an outcast feeling or like you’re doing something wrong and can’t be yourself. But that’s just until you realize that there are so many people out there with whom you resonate and fit perfectly. Luckily, since my school was international, I realized that pretty early on and so I don’t feel like it “damaged” me emotionally. In general, I think my multiculturality is a positive thing because I love the kind of people and relationships I attract with my personality.

I learnt very early in my life about cultural differences and how they can often be the reason for miscommunication and misunderstanding, when there was no bad intention, but you’re just not used to that kind of interaction. Also, with my mum being a Canadian, I would hear a lot about my mum’s experiences and feelings that were provoked by interactions she had in Germany, while those were completely normal to my dad who has been in Germany his whole life. On the other hand, when my dad was exposed to Canadian and American culture, he was also shocked by things my mum finds normal. The thing that bothered him the most about the USA is that there are no rules for so many things and he’s not used to that :D.

That’s a very valuable experience you got just by observing your parents and how they would adapt to one another even. Did you get a chance to travel with your parents?

Yes, thankfully, I traveled a lot with my mum who travels for her work and I got to join her on many trips. It’s interesting, the more I travel, the more I feel like I have barely seen anything and there are so many places I still want to visit. I feel like meeting people from other countries is also a great way of getting to know the essence of a foreign country, as people are a big part of every culture. That’s also a big part of what attracted me to Summer School of Science – people from all over the world can apply and I think it makes the program very colorful, diverse and more interesting. Also, my university attracts many international students since it’s in English and this was also one of the main reasons I decided to stay and study in Berlin, which was not the plan until I found out about CODE University. I even recently joined a WhatsApp group of Erasmus students that are currently in Berlin. My being in the group is a little unorthodox, but I joined because I just love meeting new people, especially foreigners. They organize meetups every week, which I do not only attend religiously, but they have also become my favorite part of the week.

That is such a great idea! I hope you don’t mind if I share it with our readers, even though it’s, like you said, a little rule-bending. Since you’ve been exposed to so many nationalities, do you have a favorite one?

Haha, I don’t mind that at all, in fact please do share, I need more of these groups so anyone reading this, feel free to add me to more Erasmus WhatsApp groups! As for my favorite nationality, it’s definitely Spanish people. I started learning Spanish in 6th grade, primarily since I have Colombian heritage. I met my first Spanish friends at S3++ actually and instantly clicked with them. I perceive them as warm-hearted and affectionate people, just like myself and so I resonate with them a lot. Meeting my Spanish friends at S3++ meant a lot to me, especially since it gave me the opportunity  to connect with people from the culture I’m planning to move to next year, at least for a while and see how it goes. Even at the Erasmus meetups I naturally found myself drawn to the group of Spanish students without even knowing they were Spanish. It’s like I instantly catch their vibe.

So shout out to all our readers from Spain, keep it coming guys! 🙂 Apart from attending Erasmus meetups, are there any other hobbies that fill up your week?

Oh I have to warn you, the list of hobbies is never ending. Already in school I was told by my teachers to stop doing so much because my grades would suffer because of it, but even then I knew I was gonna get more from those hobbies than from the better grades in some classes. And by the way, my grades weren’t even bad, I just didn’t have straight A’s. I did not have as much time to study, since I had an after-school activity every single day and I often came home late in the evening with very little energy to study. But to this day, I don’t regret it.

One of the earliest hobbies I took on was singing. I even joined a choir in primary school and enjoyed it very much. When I was 5, I remember I sang for my mum and asked her if I was the best singer in the world and she said: “Well I don’t know if you’re the best, but you have a beautiful voice” and it crushed me because, you know how kids are, at that time my mum, my dad and my siblings were the only people in my world. It took me a year or two to realize my mum was right about that one. However, singing plays a big role in my life even to this day and I haven’t stopped creating music. Throughout high school I took singing lessons, as well as piano and guitar lessons. Since college I no longer attend those classes, but I still have a guitar in my room and I enjoy playing it and singing to it. Recently I discovered songwriting and have been enjoying that very much. A few of my friends work in the music industry and they’ve even inspired me to pursue songwriting in a more serious way and to try making my own music instead of only covering other people’s songs. Also, not so long ago I started drawing, painting and designing custom made phone cases for friends and family.

Acting is also something I fell in love with in primary school. My school would put on a play every year and I was always picked for the bad characters, one of my first roles was the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. It was so fun! {does the evil laugh} After this, I really wanted to pursue acting as well, so I joined a theater school in 2010, which I’m still a part of, as a matter of fact, we are performing just this week! There are a few agencies in Berlin that I’m also part of that cast for small roles and extras in  movies. However, I like theater more, it’s much more intimate and real. It’s exciting to be on a movie set and see the whole process of filming, but on the other hand it can be frustrating to have to get in and out of character every few minutes because the light has to be adjusted, or the make-up has to be fixed, etc.

Julia performing in theatre
Another photo of Julia’s theatre acting

You are a very artistic person, it seems like you took a little bit of every art and not only the artistic skills, but also the soft skills you learn through having different hobbies. What about sports, did they ever interest you?

Well of course, I promised you a long list! In school I did gymnastics for six years and running since primary school. Gymnastics gave me great flexibility which I managed to preserve as I incorporate stretching in my everyday life. As for running, I even competed in school competitions and running stuck with me through all these years as my favorite physical activity.

Have you ever run a marathon?

I was going to, but then COVID-19 happened and so it was canceled, but I would definitely love to do it someday. I ran the last 300 meters of a half-marathon if that counts(?) when I came to cheer for my brother who was running a half-marathon and he wanted to give up at the last 300 meters, so naturally, I took off my heels and ran the last part of a track in socks with him. I couldn’t have let him give up at the end!

That’s a very beautiful story! And uff, you did warn me about the list though! And amongst all of the art and sports, when did your interest in science develop?

I can’t really put a date on it, but I remember I always enjoyed the experiments in school and how science always suited my way of thinking. I love learning things and solving problems in a practical, active way – in order to retain information long-term, I have to do something with it or create something out of it and understand it and not just memorize it as my school would often expect us to. That’s also what attracted me to S3++, since the program expects you to solve problems in a hands-on way. However, the person that influenced me the most was my biology teacher, who by the way was actually also the one telling me I’m doing too much outside of school. She taught biology in an interactive way that made it so much more interesting to me. Before her, I also had a great physics teacher whose passion for physics was infectious. She was the first teacher to introduce me to science in such a fun and inspired way.

It’s amazing how much impact teachers can have on us. Even they themselves often forget about that. Apart from your teachers, did you have some role models outside of school?

My mum is very passionate about the brain and neuroscience and so I became interested in it through her. She does many things professionally and has taken up many roles during her career, but one of her favorites was teaching psychology. Since I showed a great interest in these topics, she decided to do a little one-on-one private course with me. So we have lectures where she teaches me on a deeper level many psychology-related topics, a big part of it being neuroscience. You could say I’m very “human-centric” in a sense that I love genetics, neuroscience, physiology and understanding how all of that impacts how we perceive the world around us. That’s where my love for biology also found its place and enabled me to see a bigger picture.

I definitely love how the most important role models in science in your life are all women.

Education

  • Middle school: 2011-2014, Berlin International School, Berlin, Germany
  • High school: 2014-2018, Berlin International School (completed the Cambridge IGCSE program and the IB Diploma program), Berlin, Germany
  • BCs: 2018-present, CODE University of Applied Sciences, pursuing BA in Product Management, Berlin, Germany
  • Extracurricular acting school: 2010-present, Theaterschule Berlin Agentur Schreiber, Berlin, Germany

Ok Julia, let’s take a step back and talk a little about your official education. You mentioned you went to an international school in Berlin that offers an IB diploma and then went on to study at CODE University. So what exactly is CODE University, how did you choose it and what makes it so special that you gave up your gap year for it?

Yes, I went to primary, middle school and high school at the same international school. So the program in this school is divided into primary school (1st-5th grade), middle school (6-8th grade) and high school (9th-10th and 11th-12th). My last year of high school was one of the most stressful periods in my life. A lot was going on in my academic and personal life and so I had to get rid of many of my hobbies. I ended up doing only acting and singing as I found those were the most therapeutic for me and they allowed me to do something for myself every week. In the midst of all the stress, I really couldn’t think about what I wanted to do next. I think it’s important to mention that I did S3++ camp for the first time in summer between 11th and 12th grade, so it was the summer before that stressful final year and then I also participated in the camp a year later, after my final year, before I was supposed to do a gap year. I’m mentioning that because the S3++ camps made me realize how science could be fun, that I could really pursue it and enjoy it, but also that I am not really interested in “wet lab” science and wouldn’t want to do research in a strictly scientific way.

The year when I first participated in S3++, I also came across a Code+Design boot camp in Germany. I really had no experience in coding nor in design at that time, but I decided to give it a shot and see if maybe that fits me better than wet lab science. The boot camp works in a way that you form a team and together you work on some idea for a digital product that you think could “change the world”. It requires a lot of self-initiative. So I went there with just an idea for a game that’s meant to raise awareness about climate change. I surprisingly found several people who were interested in my idea, and we formed a team of 10. They had experience with coding and designing, and I naturally took on the role of a project leader. At the end of the boot camp, we presented our simple pixel game in which, depending on your behavior, the environment and nature around you changes accordingly. A few things became clear for me after that boot camp – first of all, coding is not my thing, I just don’t have the patience for it (so no “dry lab” either). Second of all, I really enjoyed being a project leader and got a sense of how it felt to have that role in a team. You can see now how the boot camp together with S3++ gave me a sense of what I (don’t) want to do – I knew then that I didn’t want to do lab science nor coding, but I definitely wanted to do research, in a productive and proactive hands-on way, and ideally in a team.

After my final exams, however, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do specifically. None of the university programs I looked up seemed to align with my wishes and dreams and that’s when I decided to take a gap year. After  school was over, I went to another Code+Design camp, but this time, I learned about the organizers of the camp – CODE University. They were organizing these camps across Germany, and also later in Rwanda in Africa, and the main idea was to offer high school students with little to no coding knowledge a chance to work on a real project and problem within a team. What really made me apply for CODE University wasn’t necessarily “Oh it’s tech and I want to stay in tech”, but it was rather the fact that they design their semesters in a project-based way – each semester you have to proactively create a project – you have to come up with an idea or problem, solve it and present it (sell it, in a way). They call it curiosity driven education and it’s exactly what I envisioned doing.

So you are studying Product Management. What other programs does the University offer?

It offers 3 different programs: Product Management, Interaction Design and Software Engineering. Another thing that attracted me to the University is that you get to decide in what order you want to take modules. Of course there are some mandatory ones for every program, but a big chunk of the curriculum is your own creation and you get to choose what you want to study and when. Like I said, we work in projects with students across all programs where we identify a global problem, come up with a solution and then everything we do and learn throughout this process of building the solution, we can use to pass modules. You’re basically constantly applying your knowledge to real world problems.

That really sounds interesting. In the end, most of us end up working in some kind of a team and I really hope that a multidisciplinary and collaboration-based approach of studying will become the norm of many other universities. So how did you structure your own curriculum?

The Product Management program offers business and economics modules, but it is even more than that because we also study management and product development. So we don’t just look at how the economy works and how we can make money from a product, but we are also looking at the product side of it – why are users buying products, how are they choosing them and how do companies market their product to the consumers so that people consistently choose their product. The management part is where we learn how to interact with different stakeholders – you have your team, investors, partners, consumers, etc. And of course we tackle the economic and strategic side of it, team management and the psychology of each step. As you can imagine, I chose quite a few psychology-related modules during my studies as I’m really interested in what exactly happens in our brains and bodies that in the end makes us buy something. In fact, I see myself the most in management and psychology.

Since you’re just finishing your undergraduate thesis, would you mind sharing with us what it’s about?

Actually, I just changed my thesis last week. At first I wanted to do something in the direction of sustainability and leadership, but as I was researching the subject, I realized that it meant taking on a completely new topic and that I needed more time in order to do it properly and study the topic well enough to write about it. With all the things that I’m currently occupied with, regarding my job and my hobbies, I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to give up any of those things since I enjoy them very much and that I would feel more comfortable if my thesis was about something I already know well enough. That way I could still conduct a little research and support it with facts and knowledge that I, for the most part, already have. So, my thesis is actually going to be very similar to the project I’m leading at S3++ camp this year. It’s in the field of Consumer Psychology, which examines why we buy products and services and how we use them. My main interest is in developing more ethical ways of getting consumers ‘hooked’ on your product, in a way that they know what they’re agreeing to, instead of using so-called “dark patterns” which the industry currently mostly relies on. Dark patterns are subtle tricks that designers use to lure the consumers into choosing their product and keep them engaged with the digital product as long as possible. My idea is to find other, more ethical ways to have the same outcome and make consumers choose your product, all while being aware of the choice they’re making. I’m still deciding on the structure of the research that I’m planning on conducting so it may be better not to go into more details for now.

I have to ask you though, oftentimes people are afraid or ashamed of changing their thesis, some are even ashamed of talking about it, although it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. How did people around you react to you changing the subject of your thesis?

I wish someone had told me earlier it was okay to do it and it is not the end of the world. Also, it’s really actually not that uncommon to do it! Luckily, my supervisor is very supportive, so I felt safe sharing my thoughts with him, but what kept me from doing it sooner is the fear of how everyone else would react and that I was in some way letting myself down. Once I did change it, I talked to a few of the graduates from my university who also told me they wished they chose a different topic for themselves, one which they already had more knowledge of  and that would save them a lot of time, energy and nerves.

I hope you don’t mind if I share that with our readers, I believe there are people out there who need to hear that it’s okay to recognize that you don’t want to do something and would maybe like to change your field of interest or the direction of your career, even if it only means changing the topic for your thesis.

Absolutely! It is important to talk about it and to normalize this in academia and in our society in general. It’s okay if you recognize that something is overwhelming for you at that moment.

Awesome, thank you so much. Now, moving on, you mentioned you currently have a job. Could you tell us what you’re working on and whether you started it recently or already during your studies?

Yes, I joined the Code+Design initiative when I got into college. It was a great experience for me, especially because I got to organize the very same camps that brought me to this university and that were, in a way, the beginning of my path. This job has also given me one of the most memorable opportunities so far – I got to go to Rwanda in Africa where we organized boot camps as well. I actually went there 4 times so far and it has been one of those things that you fear you’re not good enough for and they end up being the best decision ever. My mother has always encouraged me to lean in to opportunities so I don’t let the fear of looking stupid hold me back.

The boot camps in Rwanda were different from those in Germany in a way that only three of us went and so we had to do everything – from organization to teaching not just product management, but also coding and design, whereas in Germany my role remained strictly in management and organization, while others taught coding and design. So Rwanda definitely meant stepping out of my comfort zone, but both experiences were different and great in their own ways. I changed my job around COVID and  I’m currently working for the Product Management department as a working student where I, among other things, am co-teaching the Consumer Psychology course. I am so grateful that my professors recognized my passion and interest in the topic and now I have the chance to teach it to other students at my university. I’ve grown so close to the things that have given me the motivation and I couldn’t be happier with where I am right now.

How were you chosen for the Rwanda boot camp? That really is an opportunity of a lifetime, or at least it sounds like one.

Rwanda is one of the most developed countries in Africa and a lot of development has taken place there in recent years, especially in tech, which is also why several of their universities are focusing on tech and programming. That’s why GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), an organization that (among other things) fosters mutual learning and networking between Germany and other countries, reached out to my university and asked us to do a Code+Design boot camp in Rwanda only for women. Women in Rwanda are currently not pursuing careers in tech as much as men, as tech’s still perceived as a male field. That’s also one of the reasons I was chosen to go there, because I’m a woman and thereby automatically serve as a role model to the women at the camp. The first time we went there, we worked with female, first-year university students. Since they had no previous knowledge in coding or design, coming from CODE University I had enough knowledge to provide them with basics of these fields, even though they aren’t my major. During future visits, the boot camp developed further and they asked us to organize and facilitate camps for students from a programming high school. Since these students already knew how to code very well, we focused on teaching them design and product management skills. So those are the two different things I did in Rwanda – the university students who we introduced to coding, design and project management, and the highschoolers with whom we focused on design and product management competencies.

Julia teaching in Rwanda in 2020
Julia with a group of students in Rwanda 2020

Being a woman might have been the reason you were invited the first time, but you must have done very well if they kept asking you to come(?)

When they first called us, our team was still relatively small, 8-10 people and only 3 women on the team, so they chose to send all of us. After that they decided to just keep me. My English was much better and the other girls weren’t as used to working with different cultures as I was and they came across as shy or not understanding, which we couldn’t afford to be in that setting. I feel really passionate about teaching and coaching and creating a safe environment for people to dare to ask questions and learn. I always find that I learn as much from the students as they learn from me. And it was inspiring to see these wonderful young-women leaning in to learning something new.

In my opinion, they’ve made the right decision. I really hope you get a chance to go back, maybe in some other role and continue growing with such beautiful experiences. Is there anything else you did during your college years? Maybe some internships or competitions?

In a way, Rwanda was an internship, since I didn’t get paid for it, they only covered all of our costs, including food, accommodation and transportation. But even before Rwanda and CODE, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach children in small villages in Cambodia with United World Schools and then also in Thailand at Yaowawit School, both organizations enabling children to get an education who otherwise would not have access to one. That’s where I first discovered my love of teaching.

Another fun thing I did at CODE was Hackathons. Hackathons are fun competitions, similar to the Code +Design camps. It’s basically the same idea – you work with your team on some digital product and sometimes you even manage to build a responsive product prototype, all in a short time frame. I participated in two Hackathons, the first one was organized by Meta (then Facebook) in 2019 and every team had to come up with a solution for some global problem. My team ended up winning and the prize was a free trip to Paris where we also visited Meta’s artificial intelligence center. The second Hackathon was supposed to happen in Gran Canaria just when the pandemic started and they literally announced it was canceled when we were on the plane on our way there, so they ended up taking us in since we were already there.

Amongst all the hobbies, the job, the college you still found time for competitions – you are a real Swiss knife, aren’t you?

Hahaha, I’m definitely going to use that one! It’s always important to find time for the things that excite you and from which you grow.

Summer School of Science

Let’s talk about your S3++ journey. How did you find out about Summer School of Science?

The biology teacher I talked about previously knew someone from the School and she told us about it, she even put the flyers outside the classroom. I applied and, thankfully, got accepted. Since I enjoyed it so much and met so many great people, I decided to apply again the following year. Although I was rejected at first, since the organizers wanted to give a chance to others that never before participated in a S3++ camp, I got in after all, because someone dropped out so they invited me to come. That second camp was especially meaningful for me because, as I mentioned, I had a lot of stuff happening in my personal life and getting out of my usual daily life and away from my home saved me in a sense. That was also the year when I got really close to Leo, since he recognized that something was going on with me, and reached out and was very supportive and showed me a lot of compassion. The following year I was invited to co-lead a project with Inga who was my project leader in my first year at S3++ and now this year I am leading my own project (which I was scheduled to do in 2020 but it was canceled because of the pandemic).

Julia at 2017 S3++ camp
Julia at a 2018 S3++ camp
Julia at 2019 S3++ camp when she co-lead a project with Inga

Wow, what a journey! What do you remember from your time at S3++? Is there a special memory you’d like to share? Also, was there something you didn’t like?

Aw, there are so many beautiful memories! I would say for positive memories, I really enjoyed my projects and the way they were structured, it was very fun, especially during my second project where Camille made us detectives – that was one of the most fun experiences ever, so shout out to you Camille! Generally, I would say that the best part of S3++ is the people. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone, not only with participants, but also with the organizers and project leaders. I remember during my first camp we organized activities every evening and for one night we had to put on a play. It was so much fun creating with these people, we were all laughing and having the time of our lives! It’s amazing how being creative with other people bonds you with them on a whole other level. That’s also why I think I stayed so close with people from the first camp. As for the bad memories, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad memory, I just feel a bit sorry because I now realize I might have been a little hard to work with at times during the second camp when I wasn’t really acting like myself, as I already mentioned. But in the end, even through that experience I found a lifelong friend in Leo and compassion and understanding for myself and others that sometimes people are going through things we don’t see and aren’t their best self.

Julia and other 2017 S3++ participants acting in a play during the evening activities
Julia and Leo when she visited him in Zagreb

So you’re still in touch with other participants from S3++ camps?

Yes, of course! We’ve met every year since the camps. We’ve been on hiking trips, I’ve visited my 4 friends in Spain and they visited me in Germany (for my birthday), one year we even did a road trip together, from Austria, through Switzerland to Italy, it was so much fun. I’m also still in contact with my 3 friends from Croatia, whom I also visit every year. I really can say that I made some lifelong friends at the camps and I have the kind of relationship with all of them where no matter how long we don’t talk to each other or see each other, the moment we meet and talk we always pick up right where we left things. The bond is always there and it just keeps growing every time we hang out together. They all have a very special place in my life and in my heart. It’s the most valuable thing you go home with.

Julia visiting her Croatian friends Lovro and Mare from 2017 S3++ camp
Julia hanging out with her Spanish friends Alex and Anusha whom she met at 2018 S3++ camp
When Julia went to visit her Spanish friends in 2019, Victor and Isa from 2017 S3++ camp met with Alex from 2018 S3++ camp

Future

You have many awesome stories, I just love how you’re so full of life and love. I have no doubt great things await you in the future, but what are your wishes and dreams for the future?

The first thing I’m planning on doing right after graduation is travel – A LOT. I’m basically going to do my gap year now haha. I have a lot of friends I’m planning to visit and  also hope to meet many new ones while traveling. I would love to move to Spain next year. That I also know for sure. However, I’m still not sure about what I would like to do next careerwise. I see myself in a lot of different fields and roles, and since I’m the kind of person that embraces opportunities as they come, that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing. I experience life in a way that it’s all about attracting things with your energy and in being as authentically yourself as you can be. So, I’m going to continue working on myself and on what I like, while embracing the opportunities that come and also actively seeking them myself. I guess I’ll just go with the flow.

Since I realized how much I love teaching, that’s something I’m definitely planning on pursuing, as well as leadership positions, whether I’m a future product manager at some company, coach or even a founder of a start-up, all of these attract me. What I do know is that I would like to have flexible working hours as I definitely don’t see myself working a regular 9-5 job. Ideally, my job is going to be international and will give me a chance to travel and experience different cultures. That’s something that teaching and coaching positions often have to offer. One thing that this pandemic taught us is that you really never know how your everyday life can change drastically and that’s why I would also like to have a job that will allow me to keep doing what I love no matter how my environment changes.

Making firm decisions about your future makes no sense to me because things can turn out to be completely different from what you expected them to be. And that’s perfectly fine, but it’s also why I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself. None of us have to know what our future will look like and there’s no point in stressing over it then.

Words of wisdom, my friend. Instead of asking you where do you see yourself in 5 years then, I’m going to ask you where would you like to be in 5 years?

I definitely see myself pursuing a few different careers in my life. The fact that I have so many things in my life that I’m passionate about is great because it allows me to be happy with so many different careers and so many different options for how my life will go and where I will end up. So, to answer your question, in 5 years if I’m not teaching and coaching companies or being a part of a founding team for a start-up, I will probably be a singer. As a matter of fact, one of my short-term goals is to have my very own song on Spotify by the end of this year. That’s one of the things I’m sure I will do in the next 5 years.

And if not singing, Hollywood awaits! 😀 Now let’s go 5 years into the past and try giving your 5 years younger self some advice.

I assure you that school is not as important as the teachers are saying it is. You will find your passions sooner rather than later and as soon as you’re out of school you’ll be able to meet a lot of people that inspire you and make life worth living. There is so much more to life than this education system you’re stuck in right now and I know you’re getting glimpses of it through your acting and singing, but it gets so much better after school. So just keep doing you and worry less if you’re doing it right because ultimately, as long as you focus on yourself and listen to yourself, you’ll continue on the right path and you’ll continue on a path that feels good for you. You are going to meet people that make your entire being happy and excited and just know that whenever you feel that, that’s your reassurance that you’re doing something right.

That is very beautiful advice Julia. I am sure a little part of you can take that advice even now, so does everyone reading this. And now, for my final question, would you like to say something to our readers?

Seek discomfort – look for situations that push you out of your comfort zone where you can discover new things about subjects, about yourself, about others, about relationships, and about life. The uncomfortable things I said yes to are the very things that have left the biggest impact and allowed me to grow the most. 

There really is nothing I can add after this, Julia. Thank you so much for joining us for an interview. I wish you all the best on your exciting path and hope to talk to you in this setting again.

And as for you, dear readers, I am leaving you with Julia’s thoughts and her recommendations for two very interesting books on her favorite topic – consumer psychology:

  1. The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg (https://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/)
  2. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22668729-hooked)

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