Learning from a Global Citizen with Paula Golka
Paula Golka has recently moved to Copenhagen to pursue her Masters Degree in International Marketing and Management at the Copenhagen Business School. She currently works for Transformation, LLC in project coordination and investor engagement in the energy and technology sectors. This new investment company is based in Southern California.
She expects to completer her coursework in 2022 and work virtually from Europe. Paula is a bi-continental early career professional charting her own course and inspiring others along the way.
Sherry: Tell me about your path and what led you to your current experiences?
Paula: I spent my early childhood in Germany. When my mother passed away suddenly, I found myself transplanted in the U.S. with my father, a stepmom and siblings I didn’t know very well. And, I was required to study in a language I hadn’t exactly mastered. There were many times I felt insecure and doubted my ability to make it. With a lot of support, what I ended up with was an extended family, friends, and a truly bi-continental perspective. I completed my undergraduate work in Germany and I am currently in a master’s program in Copenhagen. While it can be challenging, I am very motivated to find a career that keeps me connected to my international upbringing. It is important to me to stay close to both cultures that are a part of me.
Sherry: What have you learned about yourself so far in your journey?
Paula: While I often feel like I am just getting started building the life I want, I have learned a few things about myself along the way. First, I am capable of more than I think I am. Second, I do not always succeed on the first try, but I am often most proud of the achievements that happened on the second, or even third, attempt. And, lastly, I have learned that achieving balance requires dedicating time to feel grateful. I find time regularly to focus on the blessings in my life, the people and things for which I am truly grateful, and it helps me keep things in perspective.
Sherry: Please share an insight or aha moment.
Paula: Just a few months ago, my stepmom and I were debating the merits of traveling to Denmark for an on-campus education versus staying in California and studying online. I felt strongly that on-campus was the right choice and had several statistics stacked up to support my decision. While she wasn’t thrilled, my stepmom was eventually supportive. Soon after my arrival in Copenhagen, the pandemic conditions grew worse and I ended up in a virtual study environment anyway. For a moment, I really thought I had made the wrong decision. But what I realized is that it was the right decision at the time I made it, and it was up to me to work with the new reality in which I found myself. As I let go of my expectations and determined to make the best of it, I was able to appreciate the cultural and educational opportunities I still have. Which is a long story to demonstrate my recent, “aha moment,” is that you can only make decisions based on the information you have and adjusting your expectations is a lot more productive than regret.
Sherry: If someone asked you, “what have you learned about yourself this year” what would you say?
Paula: What I have realized in 2020 is that each of us is on our own journey. While it is tempting to compare yourself and your progress toward personal goals to others, it is far more important to live in the moment and appreciate what you have. This is especially true when conditions globally are so unpredictable. You can only control what you can; the rest is about being flexible and opportunistic despite the obstacles that can seem overwhelming.
I met Paula over a year ago while she was visiting family in California. I know her Mom very well and felt I knew Paula before I had the chance to finally meet her. I knew about her growing up years and undergraduate days. She also supported me in a project to get our learning group off the ground. Paula is mature beyond her years and inspired me even more to continue our focus on working with early career professionals. I wish her the best of luck on this new chapter of her life!