Psychology grad works for Berlin startup; gives advice to St. Edward’s students


Alina Cahill is a Junior Business Developer People & Strategy at Delivery Hero Holding in Berlin, Germany.

One year ago, I was filling out applications for European graduate schools. My only regret in my undergraduate career was not having taken advantage of the study abroad opportunities that St. Edward’s offers, and I was determined to rectify this mistake. If you had told me one year ago that I would be living in Berlin, I would have assumed I had been accepted and my life plan was on course.

Ten months ago, I was rejected by all European graduate schools. As a last ditch effort, I applied to a doctorate’s program close to home purely because it was still accepting applications. If you had told me then that I would be living in Berlin, I would have assumed you were an asshole.

Nine months ago, I was accepted into the U.S. doctorate’s program but escaped to Europe to visit family before it began. Being half-German, Germany has always been my second home; that summer, it felt like I was coming home. Armed with determination and an education, I made a decision that drastically changed my life. I wrote myself out of the Ph.D. program and accepted an internship in Berlin.

As you can imagine, my mother was thrilled.

Do not throw away opportunities for whims–each are similarly fleeting and polarized in value. However, do not get lost in the race for societally defined success at the expense of your own happiness. Follow your passions and incorporate them into the opportunities you take advantage of.

During my internship, I consistently created opportunities to work with other departments to better understand what they do. Unsurprisingly, I learned finance is not for me. Surprisingly, I learned that HR is also not for me.

I constantly shook hands and memorized names, spent too much money joining colleagues for lunch and read more books on business and management in six months than I had in 22 years.

I’ve learned that to achieve anything, we need a bit of luck and a lot of hard work. Believing in yourself is important, but it is also important to give yourself a reason to do so. Create opportunities for yourself (this is where networking is crucial). Keep your LinkedIn, CV, and appearance beautifully maintained. Fake it ‘til you make it; nobody knows what they’re doing all the time. Never be afraid to ask questions, but always evaluate whether the question is worth asking. Know your value, and do not compromise it for anything (unpaid overtime, skipping negotiations, continued sleep deprivation).

Finally, pursue what makes you happy. Pursue your happiness with all you have, take every opportunity you are given, create every opportunity you are not, be frustratingly persistent, never give up. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure what that means for you; I started with one aspect, discovered more as I went and hope to continue to learn more about myself as I go.

One month ago, I started my current position at a large startup in Berlin. Presently, my main responsibility is managing and maintaining the rollout and implementation of an employee engagement tool in our holdings across 40 countries.

I use my psychology degree from St. Edward’s every day, judging social situations and cultural differences as I communicate with international departments. I practice my passion for people as I assist in implementing a tool I truly believe will make employees’ work lives better. I get my adrenaline rush presenting senior partners data that goes against their stance, and I feel fulfilled in being referenced in important decisions.

If you told me one month ago that I would be doing what I love, where I love, how I love, I would have told you “damn straight.”