In 2018, one of the noteworthy milestones for alumni activities was the launch of the first ever EYP mentorship pilot programme. It provides the alumni of the network with a chance to contribute to the personal development of current EYP participants. The aim of this initiative is to bring together young EYPers who are beginning their professional careers (and are, for example, finishing their studies and seeking their first jobs) with EYP alumni who are already experienced and can share their expertise with the next generation. This year, 18 tandems from 16 countries have met to begin this joint mentorship venture.
Meet one mentee, Isidora Smigic from Serbia and her mentor, Katharina Okulski from Austria who participated in the first ever EYP mentorship programme.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
Isidora: Fresh International Relations graduate, president of EYP Serbia, currently doing an internship in Berlin, and passionate about politics, gender equality, and visual arts.
Katharina: I am a curious, open-minded problem solver who is passionate about the next generation of young leaders that will shape the Europe of tomorrow.
Why did you decide to partake in the EYP mentorship programme?
Isidora: I have met an incredible number of inspiring, successful, and ambitious people throughout my five years of involvement in the EYP network and I can’t think of a better pool of young professionals who can support me in the early stages of my career development.
Katharina: I have dear memories from my time in the EYP and I still relate today to the many challenges that young people are facing to find their place and career paths. I want to share my experiences, including the best and the worst; what worked for me what didn’t. I am also eager to learn about current EYP experiences: what are the concrete problems that EYPers face today, how do they handle certain situations, and how do they use the skills they acquired in EYP on a day-to-day basis? What is fascinating to see is that, although many things have changed over the years, the young people of today are still dealing with some of the same core issues, such as finding out what they want, what they are good at, and how to find purpose so that they can contribute best to make the world a better place.
What are some challenges that you are facing in this programme?
Isidora: A challenge that I have noticed is that sometimes I feel like I don’t even know what the right questions to ask my mentor are, but it’s reassuring that Katharina went through a similar path of finding her profession and that I can openly share my concerns with her. A case in point is that it turned out that one of a few masters programmes that I am considering applying for is exactly the one that Katharina pursued!
Katharina: In our case, it is rather simple, but the biggest challenge lies at the administrative level with scheduling meetings at the most convenient times for both parties. We also have a geographical challenge, as Isidora is based in Berlin and I am in Vienna. But Skype comes in quite handy and eases this problem. What is fascinating to see is that, although many things have changed over the years, the young people of today are still dealing with some of the same core issues, such as finding out what they want, what they are good at, and how to find purpose so that they can contribute best to make the world a better place.
How do you want to use this mentorship experience?
Isidora: Above all, I expect to be able to have a second opinion about my professional plans and career decisions from a trustworthy person who was in my shoes not that long ago. I think that this mentorship offers me a great space for self-reflecting, and I am very excited to explore the possibilities that my communication with Katharina will bring!
Katharina: For me, the main driver is the opportunity to help young EYPers by sharing my life experiences, mistakes and success. I also would like to help them make sound choices and hopefully inspire them to challenge themselves and determine their goals. I am expecting to benefit from the same, and gain insights from fresh outlooks on the Europe of today through the eyes of those who will lead it tomorrow. I want to use this energy and inspiration to gain a new perspective on my personal life and development, as well.
Would you be interested to participate in the upcoming EYP Mentorship programme, either as a Mentee or a Mentor? Stay tuned as the call will be coming out next month, in December 2018!