When did you join ESN? Why? What was your motivation?

In 2010 I moved to Poznań for my studies and I knew that just studying will not be enough for me. I wanted to do more and pay attention to my self-development. I wanted to settle down in the new place and meet new people. Ever since I remember I was a proactive person, I liked to organise events, I had experience in student council. When I heard from my friend who was studying on Gdańsk University of Technology that there is something like ESN, I did not hesitate and wrote an email to the section at my university.


Breakthrough moment in your Newbie career?

It will be my first CLR in Kraków, in 2011. It gave me a bigger perspective and greater spectrum of possibilities for development. I was able to meet people from different cities, I saw that we share the same values. Shortly after that I became a part of OC NP Poznań and then everything went so fast… :)


General breakthrough moment in ESN?

When I became the President and Delegate of ESN UAM Poznań, I was totally gone. Of course in positive way. I came back from Erasmus and I took upon myself a new position at the local level. At that time we were strongly collaborating as Poznań United. I was Head of the OC of Upgrade Poznań, a delegate, shortly after that I became the chair of FR committee and a member of FICO, all of that happened in year 2012/13. Every platform, next trip, skype, written application, every new person, no matter if it was an ESNer or an Erasmus, was a puzzle that let me create my own vision of my future. All those things gave me great motivation and pushed me towards further actions.


What function did you have in ESN?

I hurried and I already listed some! I was a member of local board and HR manager, president of my section, member of the section’s Audit Committee. In 2013/14 I was a member of the national board and Project Manager, after that I was a member of national Audit Committee, vice-coordinator of ESN TEAM, and head of Partnership Team in FICO.


What are you most proud of in your ESN career?

There are a few aspects. Starting from local level in my section ESN UAM, when I was a president of my board, we tried so hard to change the atmosphere in our section, the attitude of members and their motivation; and I dare to claim that we did it. On national level, I’m proud that we received the title of the best country in the network during AGM Milano while I was in the National Board. On international level, I’m proud of organising the first edition of ESN TEAM.


Did you have any doubts? What? When? Why? How did you deal with them?

Of course I did have doubts. I was devoting plenty of time to ESN and sometimes the effects were not as fast or as spectacular as I wanted them to be. On the other side, I found myself having short motivation breakdowns or doubts but I have never given up.

I remember that I had a hard time during the work on ESN Team or ESNOLYMPICS. How to deal with it? I go one of two ways, if the situation doesn’t need immediate response - I’m calming down, cutting off for a day from problems and I come back the next day with a clear head to collect conclusions and perform analysis of what has gone wrong or what to change. In the other case, when my motivation is down and I need to act right away - I always ask for assistance of a person with whom I was cooperating on a given project. It is worth it to calm your ego down and admit to a bad day, an error, lack of motivation. In ESN we rarely work alone so it is important to use the fact that we have next to us another freak who is pushing himself for the same reason - passion :)


How would you rate the development of our association over the time you are its member?

There is no clear answer. What I really appreciate and assess as strong advantage is our attitude for trainings, cooperation with institutional partners, and business insight. I would also point towards local projects, cooperation of sections on national and international level, and visibility of Poles in ESN International. However I can see some kind of stagnation in the field of national projects, administration, or innovation. Those are the fields in which knowledge and ideas of a huge bunch of people which are still in the organisation can be used. I mentioned stagnation but it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything about this. We can get inspiration on different fields from other countries, analyse and draw conclusions from projects that we have done, consult with Alumi, watch what other students organisations do, and last but not least talk to each other…


How do you assess your development and development of your competences?

Well? Of course now, from perspective, I know what I would have done differently, from what I could have drawn even more. But realistically, I think that ESN gave me the opportunity to develop my competences through action. Especially the soft skills - motivation, HR management, planning or setting goals. The same goes for hard skills - budgeting, knowledge of basic project management programs, and foreign languages. Such experience is invaluable.


Do you find ESN experience useful in your work life or private life?

Sure! From the professional point of view - ESN allowed me to develop a number of competences, gave me experience that I could use during recruitment interviews, international perspective, possibility to use foreign languages and work on projects on all levels. For a recruiter, the fact of an activity in a student organisation is important by itself, having different positions in multiple projects with intercultural environment is a great asset. In addition, the perspective and awareness acquired over the years in ESN have allowed me to gain more humility and at the same time self-confidence, the ability to work with anyone, regardless of their character.

From personal point of view? I am currently living with one of the Alumni. I spend plenty of weekends with people who I met while being a delegate, and from time to time we organise non-formal meetings of “dinosaurs”, were we meet with “our” crew among which you can find old ESNers from Gdańsk, Poznań, Wrocław, Katowice, Łódź, Toruń, Warszawa ect. So yes, I definitely find ESN useful in my personal life :)


What has ESN changed in your life?

I will shortly sum up what I said before. ESN gave me a possibility to meet a bunch of people from all over the world, most out of whom are still my closest friends. From a person open to the world, other cultures, nations, tastes etc., with a broad perspective, I became even more tolerant and empathetic. ESN let me gain invaluable experience, which paid off during recruitment interviews and then at work. ESN allowed me to gain knowledge, learn new things, and take part in a number of interesting events (e.g. European Youth Event, consultations with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education).


What was your biggest ESN failure, what didn’t you manage to achieve, even though you wanted to?

A few smaller or bigger projects, but if I were to classify something as failure, it would be the chairing of FICO partnership group. I had a lot of ideas, energy, and knowledge that I wanted to use, but I was not able to combine this role effectively with work, studies, and coordination of the ESN TEAM. And it is this project that is my (and not only my) "baby", hence when I got to the point where I had to to give something up, I chose FICO.


If you could redo something in ESN, what would it be?

Now as I’m wiser with the experience I have gained over these past few years, from the huge amount of events and projects, platforms, and activities at various levels, I think I would have planned differently the ESNOLYMPICS and definitely the cooperation with partners when I was the Project Manager in the board of ESN Poland. Moreover if I could, I would organise a CND or maybe an AGM in Poznan :)


Were you prepared enough, when you were taking over your first position? Did you know what you were about to experience?

Regardless of a position that we would talk about, the answer would still be the same. Of course I could know more, I could have had more experience, and thus be even better prepared, but that is also the point of all this. It’s about facing challenges, crossing borders, or going out of the comfort zone. I think that good preparation is experience, passion, and knowledge of who can you consult with about any given issue. In the case of a Project Manager in the national board, I can say that I knew what I will have to do, however reality still brought some crisis, surprising, or simply new situations. As an ESN TEAM coordinator I didn’t know what it’s going to be like, but I believed in this project and in the back of my head I visualised the final outcome and this imagination became real in the end.


Where do you think you would be if it wasn’t for ESN?

I'm glad I do not have to think about this possibility!


What would you call the nicest memory from your term?

People. Incredibly positive people from my home section, other Poznan sections, delegates from "my time’’, the board of ESN Poland, who were the Incredibles and the Erasmus people from all over the world. Those people came with events where I met them. My top 3 are AGM Maribor, European Youth Event in Strasbourg, and probably SD Gliwice.


Author: Karolina Sikorska