Building project management skills with AEGEE

In one of our last articles we told you about the European Training Courses (ETCs) that the AEGEE-Academy created in collaboration with the Comité Directeur (CD) this spring. Our Editor-in-Chief, Janine Kuroczik, was lucky enough to get selected as one of the participants for the ETC on project and event management, and so she went on a journey to the AEGEE house in Brussels this March to improve her skills. Find out more about her experience!

Being a student of Political Science and a member of The AEGEEan, I did not know much about executing projects or writing grants. However, especially as an AEGEEan, those are very useful skills. I mean every antenna and European body can use members with expertise in these areas! But my lack of knowledge would change drastically after taking part in the four-day long ETC on project and event management! 

The course took place in the infamous AEGEE house in Brussels, where me and the other eight participants from all over Europe stayed, and got to meet the CD members that live there. Two of them, Teodora Panuş and Veronika Chmelárová were our trainers for the event, along with Julia Krebs from the AEGEE-Academy. They created a quite packed but interesting timetable that included everything that one should know about grants and how to manage projects, events, teams and crises. 

The first day of the event started with some ice-breaking games and an introduction to the topic. From then on, we went deeper and deeper into project management with every session. After the course, I can assure you all of us participants know how to do strategic planning and use appropriate methods (such as NAOMIE)! Everyone got to share the projects they are currently working on and could elaborate strategies and ideas on how to best bring those projects further. Of course, the trainers always helped with tips and tricks! Roma Bogdanov, a participant from AEGEE-Mannheim says about the ETC: “I learned a lot. Some of the topics weren’t new to me, like strategic planning or event management, but I’ve discovered new tools and approaches to them. Other topics really were completely novel, especially those connected to the fundraising part of the curriculum: Concept building, application design, co-funding, impact management, and so on. We can definitely apply this knowledge to our local – we’ve got very ambitious plans for the future and external funding will come in very handy to realise them.”

While some sessions were like informative lectures, others were incredibly interactive. In the session on crisis management, for example, we were presented with several problems that could come up during a project, and we had to solve them at the same time as fast as possible with structured team work. We learned how to stay calm in stressful situations, and had lots of fun finding solutions together. In another session we got to learn how to best build teams and a good working atmosphere, and Julia Krebs made us think about each of our strengths that we could put at the service of the team. 

I have been mentioning Julia for quite a while, so I think it’s time to formally introduce her. Julia is a long member of the AEGEE-Academy, and this has been her first live training since the pandemic. She explains: “I am very excited for the course, because I forgot how much fun in-person trainings are! It is always nice to get to know the group of participants and see how they are learning and what they come up with during the sessions. Veronika, Teodora and I had a meeting about the goals of the training, and then we came up with a number of sessions, worked on them individually, and came up with a flow”. She further states that: “after the training course the participants should know what they can do and what AEGEE as a network can provide. They should know how to implement a project from step one to the end”. As a participant, I can confirm that I definitely know now which steps are important while executing projects, which strategies I can use, and what mistakes I should better avoid. 

The training course was very intense, but I definitely improved my skills to a great deal. The trainers were very considerate, and listened to the needs of the participants during the training — between the sessions we even got a city tour from Veronika, and had time to taste some Belgian waffles, fries and beer! I can highly recommend taking part in an ETC as it is not only lots of fun and an opportunity to meet other AEGEEans, but also an amazing way to improve skills that can become very handy for AEGEE related work and one’s professional life!