Before coming to AXA, I expected it to just be an ordinary day at work, but in fact my experience was extraordinary. It was great to shadow a leader and even greater to shadow such an inspirational man as Damien Bourgeois. I am quite a social person, so luckily I didn't feel embarrassed at all.

Although I study medicine, I’m really passionate about the marketing and publicity sector. Ι was the CEO of my enterprise for the Junior Achievement Company Program, and it was really interesting to see how this related to a real life situation.

I had lots of meetings with colleagues, discussions and idea sessions, and Damien encouraged me to ask if I had questions about the kind of work his does. The best part of the day was when we were having dinner together. He discussed with me about his childhood dreams. It was interesting to see how the perception of a child, of an adolescent has changed over time when thinking about professional life.

Damien taught me two important things. Passion and perseverance. His work is a passion for him and he always perseveres; he never gives up when he has set himself a goal. I want to be the same going forwards.

Having been part of this experience from Junior Achievement, I can honestly say that I have broadened my horizons and gained knowledge, skills, competencies and the right mindset for the future. My dream is still to become a doctor, but since I believe I was born to be a leader, I’m really keen on participating in programs within the business sector.

I really would recommend the program to other students.

My advice: Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!”

Originally posted on AXA's website here.

My experience with the Leaders-for-a-Day program was excellent. Paulo Ferreira from Portugal, the young leader who came to "shadow" me in the Microsoft office in Brussels, was very curious, knowledgeable and way more mature than most 18-year-olds I’ve encountered. I was impressed by the fact that Paulo already has his future plans set for the next years and it was great to help and mentor such a young talent with an entrepreneual mind-set.  

Paulo shared with me several observations during the day. First, his surprise at the breadth and depth of Microsoft products and also the role the company takes in various initiatives and programs. Indeed, it is true that Microsoft is supporting different programs and events, like "YouthSpark" and "All You Need Is Code". Second, Paulo noted that he was also quite surprised to see how much work is done, so-to-say, "behind the scenes" within the different policy areas. But he is not the only one who learned something new during the day.

The Leaders for a Day program provided me with a great opportunity to meet a young, motivated, ambitous leader who we need so very much in today’s world. Meeting Paulo, observing him and talking about his plans was refreshing, as he brought a completely entrepreneurial perspective on things to the table. I only wish the program had been available when I was 18 years old.

The Leaders for a Day program is incredibly valuable, because it brings entrepreneurial and soft skills to talented students though experiences they can’t get in traditional education. It provides a needed and helpful component to formal education programs. I enjoyed the day a lot and want to express many thanks to JA Europe, the organisators of the day and Paulo, my shadower!

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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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Priceless experience, a ton of new contacts, opportunities everywhere! This is what the Leaders-for-a-Day event meant to me. However, only these few words just cannot express how I am thrilled I met such amazing and talented people. Friendliness of everyone I spent my time with astonished me. The fact I could spend the whole workday with the CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies changed the way I see my future. A lot of various nationalities have been working here. Belgians, English, French, Americans and much more! It is amazing to see how pleasant the international environment can be. 

My leader Mr. Thomas Tindemans was interested in project of our former JA Company and about the JA programme in general. He really appreciates its contribution to the society and supports education in entrepreneurship.Throughout the day we participated in several meetings where I had an opportunity to watch my leader and his working process. I must admit I have never seen such an open-minded leader. It was obvious to see he sparks the best in his colleagues and my opinion is that is how a good leader should act. Person who can motivate others to make their work at its best. I have also discovered the opportunity about internship in Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Three months of work in such workplace in the European centre are something I feel really excited about.

I really enjoyed these three days which gave me not only many valuable experience but the opportunity to spread my network to the international level. So much new people with different unique personalities, JA staff who were more kind and helpful than I could ever imagine and many members of other companies. Good relationships were made and I am really looking forward to see how solid our network gets!

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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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