|German and European Studies, Class of 2017
|Born in Albania, grew up in Italy, the United States, and Canada.|
|Summer 2016 Internship: Business Associate in Rawabi, Palestine|
|D.C. Jobs and Internships:
Global Futures Fellow, Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement
President, D.C. chapter of European Horizons.
Entrepreneurs (Research Intern)
by Matt Raab
During her two years at SFS, Lina Zdruli has harnessed her multicultural upbringing and inter-disciplinary perspective to set herself on a productive and innovative career path. A member of the 2017 graduating Master of Arts in German and European Studies (MAGES) class, Zdruli specializes in transatlantic relations and business diplomacy, focusing on developing private sector engagement with public problems.
“I studied International Relations as an undergrad at UBC [University of British Columbia]. After that, I worked at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). While I loved the mission, I found the lack of collaboration with private sector inhibited efficiency, so I decided to shift towards using business for social good,” Zdruli said.
She was specifically attracted to MAGES for the geographically wide array of opportunities it affords.
“I’ve always been passionate about Europe-US relations,” Zdruli said. “Because I grew up on both sides of the Atlantic, I was never sure where I would live ‘permanently’ so I wanted a program that would give me the flexibility, skills and network to choose throughout my career.”
At Georgetown, she found a cohort of like-minded students and motivating faculty..
“I hope I won’t have to miss them too much,” Zdruli said of her friends, “but this is an international program after all and I know everyone will go off to create change in this world. In the end, no matter how much we learn in class, the greatest learning comes from each other.”
Zdruli confirmed the closeness of those friendships by example, citing “staying up at 4 am in the BMW Center with two other classmates, eating plain bread and sharing our ‘pain’ during the final stretch of our preparation for a paper” as a favorite memory.
She also appreciated the faculty support she received at MAGES.
“Professor Mary Cline was truly a mentor who believed in my capacity and helped me expand my skills beyond Georgetown,” Zdruli said. ”Thanks to her, I wrote a memo draft which was sent to the government of Ohio on the importance of refugees as an economic asset rather than a burden, the same topic as my thesis. I would have never had the opportunity to present my findings to a government entity if it were not for her. She was also a true champion throughout my thesis and always encouraged me to go beyond–for example, I conducted fieldwork in Germany.”
Zdruli has also taken advantage of her program’s location, interacting with the city around her whenever she could.
“I loved attending events – nowhere else do world-class leaders come to see not only other important people but talk to students as well. It feels like D.C. is almost an open-house for everyone to exchange opinions and ideas, and I have even made great friends at talks and conferences thanks to these common interests,” she said.
While at Georgetown, she has been able to advance her experience with the issues she is interested in through a number of opportunities, including a summer in Palestine.
“I lived and worked in Rawabi, Palestine,” Zdruli said. “The city was built from scratch from a private investor, who has the vision to build a knowledge economy in the region. I helped develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem, including building a coworking space and expanding the startup accelerator from Ramallah to Rawabi.”
She also worked as a Global Futures Fellow at Georgetown and founded the D.C. chapter of European Horizons, a “student-run transatlantic think tank.”
“As the chapter president, I attend conferences in Europe and the U.S. on topics such as the Transatlantic Digital Economy and help strengthen our networks locally,” Zdruli said.
Moving forward, Zdruli will keep working on improving public-private partnerships. She hopes to eventually run her own company focused on those partnerships and similar dynamics.
“The summer I will be working at the Urban Institute on a project helping develop private sector interventions for refugee employment in Tanzania and Bangladesh,” she said. “In the long run, I dream of running my own business with a social purpose, to be taken as a model for other SMEs to drive profit and purpose locally and internationally.”