First of all, I really wanted to thank whole JA organization for making this trip possible. These two challenging days were ones of the best in my life, not only when it comes to the gained knowledge but also in creating a big international connection with newly met. After wonderfully coordinated first meeting I’ve felt perfectly prepared for what was to come the next day. The meeting itself was supposed to introduce us to each other, make us more comfortable talking in front of the group, and teach us how to find and present certain information in a nimble way.

After 4 hours of pleasant work, we were able to chill and have some fun eating dinner together. The next day, everybody was well rested and ready to conquer the world of business and politics. From the very beginning the second day in Brussels was very intense. After a short ride in a cab, my group (Nikola, Šárka, Martina, Carlos and Rares) arrived at the Rue Wiertz entrance. After short wait we were asked to come in and taken by our Leaders. My leader was of course the MEP from my country – Danuta Jazłowiecka.

She made a very positive impression as a very well educated and open minded person. We spent wonderful time talking about her job and how she connects it with her personal life. She was so kind to share her experience with me and give some valuable advice. She strengthened my belief in what I’m doing and what I’m aiming for in the future.

Meeting Mrs. Jazłowiecka was not only a great experience, but also a huge lesson for me, as I’m currently at the stage of life where I need to make some important decisions about my future. I’ve also spent a lot of time with her wonderful assistants, who have showed me how work in the European Parliament really looks like, and the place itself. I was able to taste not only the official part like the session of the European Parliament, but also the parts of EP workers typical day, including having a lunch in the local canteen. After 6 intensive hours we made it to the celebration Celebration Cocktail at White&Case offices, where we had chance to talk over our former experiences. After magnificent Greek style dinner it could seem like an end of our journey, but nothing of the kind! With our new friends we decided to make fullest use of our last hours together, and went sightseeing! Few hours later the most persistent of us met in one room and threw little goodbye party. We talked and played games for hours, everything like we knew each other for years!

Leaving Brussels was really hard for me. I must admit that I had a time of my life there. If someone would’ve told me that you can bond with so many people in such a short period of time I probably wouldn’t believe. But here we are! All of us connected through the social media and hoping to meet as soon as possible. Apart from many new friends, Leaders-for-a-Day helped me to decide what I’m going to do in the nearest future, gave many opportunities (like becoming a trainee in European Parliament), gave me a chance to test my English “in the battlefield” and learnt how to cope with new situations that are inseparable part of our life. I really, really wanted to once again thank JA Europe for making this possible to me. I think that every young, ambitious entrepreneur deserves such a wonderful opportunity that can change his whole life in only two days.

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There are few life changing experiences in life, those worth to be mentioned in a “Describe an experience that has shaped you” college application essay. And I’m more than thankful to have just participated in one of such, shaping memories to last while enthusiastically establishing a close network of friends, both junior and senior leaders, all with the same vision: to promote entrepreneurship, to inspire and keep being inspired every day that passes. And the opportunity to participate in “JA Europe Leaders for a Day” was to me the key to two days full of inspiration and self-discovery.

Going back to Greece, myself, a 17-year-old apprentice and an entrepreneur with minimal experience, can consider all the aspects in which the aforementioned program has changed me, and there are lots of them. While in Brussels, I came in contact -during the program warm-up- with a range of interesting people, mostly young leaders of my age, 36 amazing people, gathered together and sharing unique stories of each, discovering what differentiates and what unites us. We truly became a team, not only enriching our knowledge, but going to a whole different level when it comes to life-revolutionary experiences, of those in which you can indulge yourself in fully only when you totally open your mind and horizons. To such point, it hit me how my character as a young adult ready to make my part to a better place of my world has changed, my perspective much larger to that of before I got the opportunity to the program.

At the end of it, with my expectations of it fulfilled as they were, I know I have taken advantage of being a leader for a day through establishing most valuable acquaintances, opening myself to others, subject to positive changes and influences, and in fact working for a short time in the most real accessible workplace of the future through the mentorship of an experienced senior leader - in that order, heartfelt thanks to Xavier Hormaechea, Director of Public Affairs at UCB who got to make the grand finale to an experience that taught me so much, and my dear appreciation for all he showed me. And so I found myself at a workplace that I have an ambition of leading as I was most certainly taught to, in a few years. Together with the people, dear friends that supported me in these first steps, young partners in ambition.

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A shadow is supposed to be an area of darkness created when a source of light is blocked? After having spent the day with our JA student Nikola, I am more than convinced that we should change that wording! To me Nikola has not been a shadow but a mirror-image. All along this one-day-journey we’ve been exchanging ideas and convictions as if Nikola were my younger alter ego, time-travelling forward into the present day. I loved every minute of it.

Sure, it was about passing on the advice that we would have liked to receive many years ago, when we still had most of our choices to make. But it cuts both ways. Exchanging with a mature young entrepreneur that has the age of my children made both of us reflect and look back upon the choices leaders make. The wisdom of ages always comes at a price. What sacrifices or compromises do leaders make to get there? Then what do those choices bring us in exchange in terms of rich experiences, opportunities and valuable encounters that we are privileged to have?

Dear JA students, dear Nikola, come as you are….the experience is highly recommended.

 

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Thanks to JA Europe I had a unique possibility to spend a day with a JA Alumni from my home country- Poland. As Member of the European Parliament I am meeting daily with various stakeholders and people from all around Europe. However, the time I spend with Maciej Bergier, an 18- year old student, was full of interesting discussion and unforgettable experience also for me. I was impressed how much Maciej is determined and convinced about his future career path. He is a great example of a lively entrepreneurial spirit with fresh ideas and determination to work hard to achieve his goals. "Leader's for a day" programme gave me an opportunity to ask Maciej for his opinion on the education system in Poland- whether it provides students with skills and qualifications being searched for by employers on the labour market. We agreed that still a lot has to be done, that more time should be devoted to practical aspects as well as project- based learning.  Development of interpersonal skills is also vital if one wants to become a leader in the future. I am thankful for JA Europe for the great experience as well as for their great programme which gives young people a unique opportunity to learn from leaders all around Europe. 

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"Britcham and JA Europe have put together a great initiative to develop young leaders. UCB was pleased to take part and support it. We would highly recommend other leaders and companies to consider joining it next year as it provides a great experience to the young leader."

 

 

 

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