Learning by doing: how AEGEE brings you forward in your career (Part III)

Never underestimate what you do in AEGEE: what you learn here can help you discover new strengths in your personality, hone your skills and boost your career! Let us inspire you. In cooperation with the Youth Development Working Group, the AEGEEan launches a series of career stories which all started thanks to the invaluable experience gained by being active in AEGEE. This week, Oksana Spolyak and Álvaro González present themselves.

Oksana Spolyak, AEGEE-Lviv

I am a linguist by profession, specialized in foreign languages. I was teaching English during my university years and a year later after graduation. Actually, it was the experience of event management in AEGEE that motivated me apply for a different job. By that time I became the secretary of our antenna, coordinated one local educational project, had been a core team member of Agora Kyiv 2015, and been in the middle of coordinating the Ukrainian part of TSU “Tale of Slavic Twins” with AEGEE-Krakow, apart from  helping and organizing other different local and European events in my native local of AEGEE-Lviv. Honestly, I didn’t consider that experience as something that could get me a job in another field than of my specialization.

Oksana Spolyak

After approximately half a year of unsuccessful attempts,  just before the departure to Agora Bergamo (laughing), I was heading to an interview at the Lviv City Council for the position of a project manager in the Lviv Convention Bureau. The experience of coordinating two AEGEE projects stood above my occupation as an English teacher in my CV. And I was really surprised to hear these words from my future boss, “Wow, that’s impressive!” She was talking about my AEGEE experience. I really couldn’t understand how extracurricular activities like volunteering in some NGO could get me a job. But it did.And not just  the two aforementioned experiences with AEGEE, but the overall experience and skills developed at AEGEE in around 3 years helped me later in my daily work at a convention bureau where I continue to work.

The main idea of the Convention Bureau is to promote the city as a meetings destination, being a kind of liaison between international meeting planners/association representatives and local service providers. Through my experience at AEGEE, I could draw parallels to the work and structure of big organizations/associations. I was able to organize my first familiarization trip to the city for foreign meeting planners on my own. I later became a coordinator of an international profile conference for 80, meeting industry professionals at the age of 23. The public speaking experience gained during recruitment presentations of AEGEE-Lviv served as a good basis for improving these skills at my job. I was able to positively leverage this experience at B2B meetings at different trade shows, and the quite recent presentation of Lviv’s meetings’ potential in front of around 150 tourism professionals from Latvia served me as well.

These are just a few examples how AEGEE helped me in my career. My advice to all fellow AEGEEans would be to value the experience you get in AEGEE, present it confidently and use every opportunity in our organization that you find relevant. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you’re at it (smiles).  

Álvaro González Pérez, an Ambassador of “Europe on Track”-2019

When I joined AEGEE, both my studies and the career I was building were completely different from what I am currently doing. For my BA degree, I was studying English, Philology, and teaching languages. Although I have always known that languages are my passion, I always doubted about being a teacher or a translator, until I got to know AEGEE during my Erasmus in Osnabrück. Joining the association gave me room to develop the skills that I did not know I possessed.

From the time that I delivered my first workshop, being nervous and insecure in front of an audience of about just 20 people, to where I am now, writing this while about to begin my journey in Europe on Track, for which I feel more than prepared and where I will be delivering workshops in 10 cities around Europe for up to 100 people. Being in AEGEE has also provided me the opportunity to get to know about other trainings or events from other associations.

Álvaro González during the Autumn Agora Catania, 2017.

Regarding the career that I would like to pursue now, working on projects, the fact that I coordinated the AEGEE European Day of Languages 2016 edition (with no experience at the time on project management) and European Citizenship Working Group (ECWG) opened several doors. For instance, in my last working position as project assistant, I was dealing with, among other things, EU projects with budgets of up to 1.5 million €, something I could have never expected had I not gained the experience I didin our network. Furthermore, it also allowed me to identify that I was more into sociology and international relations (that is why I did my MA in European Studies). And last but not least, it allowed me to realise that I definitely want to keep working professionally in civil society.

Indeed, AEGEE is volunteering. It’s about making a change in our society and trying to shape Europe as we think it should be. But it’s also about personal development and I could not be more grateful to it for having given me the tools and the space to allow me to develop in order to into the person that I am today.