A lot of us have wondered about what life’s like in the Comité Directeur (CD), or what one does there. What’s it like leading a students’ association across Europe with 10,000+ members? Our curiosity got the better of us and we decided to have a chat with our President, Daniël Amesz.
Hey Daniel, thank you for letting us have this interview with you and hopefully it will inspire members to apply for CD or at the very least strive to be in future CDs. Firstly, what sort of things have you been up to in the past year?
This past year has been a crazy roller coaster with some the biggest highlights as well as the biggest challenges I’ve ever experienced. It is an amazing and humbling responsibility to represent and work for AEGEE here in Brussels and it’s something that sinks in very quickly after arriving in the house. Every day brings new things, so it’s hard to properly summarise, but I’ll give a few examples. Being in CD is all about dealing with reality and problem solving. That can be attending a reception of other NGOs to forge new partnerships and connections or attending a high level stakeholder meeting with the European Commission to talk about how to improve their plans and programs. On the other side, it is also working with locals or European bodies to help them achieve what they want and them helping you to achieve what you want. As a CD member, and especially as President, you are often asked to jump in to put out a fire and think about a problem when people don’t know where else to go. Helping people through those moments is really cool. Besides all of this, we spent a lot of time working on the grants and funded projects of AEGEE. These give the Network a lot of opportunities to increase the impact and inclusion of activities, but also require careful monitoring, administration and reporting. This is often done by the CD and the assistants/staff.
Obviously, there are many challenges about being in the CD, but which one was the most rewarding to overcome or at least deal with?
You are damn right about that haha! One challenge that I will always carry with me is the organisation of the SMASH Final Conference in the European Parliament. It was something I was personally responsible for, but had a lot of setbacks. Because the European Commission’s installment was delayed, all the Parliamentarians were extremely busy which made it hard to do anything in the EP. This also impacted the ability to promote the event, as for a long time the date could not be confirmed. On top of that, several speakers cancelled because of different personal reasons. At some point it felt that I wouldn’t be able to manage to make it work at all anymore. But with the help of my team and the amazing dedication of friends we managed to organise a successful event. We had inspiring speakers during a very interesting panel and were able to present the work of all the people that volunteered in SMASH to an audience of stakeholders. That evening we all went home satisfied and proud.
Why should someone want to run for CD and what advice would you give them? Also what sort of experience should they have?
Being in CD is without a doubt the most awesome experience you can have in AEGEE and is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime chance. You’ll never again have the opportunity to have so much responsibility, while also still being in a relatively safe environment. No matter how well prepared you think you are, there is a steep learning curve and you’ll make mistakes, but that is okay. However, you should also be aware that there is only so much margin for error. I always like to see AEGEE as a playground, but here in Brussels it is also very serious at times and mistakes can be costly. This is also what gives it so much meaning and why you learn so much from it. Therefore, you should apply if you are extremely stress-resistant and very team-orientated. Nobody can do this job on their own, so you rely on your team to make it through. I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to experience this year with the people of CD57, they are all inspirations for me in their own ways. Therefore, I highly recommend those people in our network that have a strong passion for AEGEE and that have extensive experience in different places in AEGEE to apply and take the leap of faith. It might be scary, but it will pay off!
Finally, what are your plans for next year? I suppose you just wanna lie down on a beach!
I think everyone is dreaming about going on a holiday by now, just for the change of scenery. But besides fantasising about time off, I’m also already looking for my work opportunities for next year. So far, with the CD experience on my CV, I’ve been asked for a (digital) interview for every application I sent out and hopefully will be able to confirm a position for September soon! Although you should not apply with the sole motivation of being able to put it on your resume, it is definitely a huge career booster as well.