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Making the impossible possible with JA

I come from a unique small town in the heart of Bulgaria called Veliko Tarnovo, which is a place of historical significance and cultural value. Currently, I am a third-year student at the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield in Sofia. Additionally, I am a team leader on a project in Sofia that supports start-up development, management and related issues. I also contribute a huge part of my free time to entrepreneurship as it is also of huge interest for me. Junior Achievement Bulgaria gave me the opportunity to obtain a more detailed insight into these areas and draw links between the theoretical framework covered in university lectures and their real life application.

My Junior Achievement journey started when a friend of mine invited me to join him in the extra curriculum classes he had begun on entrepreneurship skills, which happened to be led by JA Bulgaria. The JA Company Programme was very engaging, informative and interesting. After we finished the course, we participated in the event Rising Stars where we had to compete against other student companies. Although we did not manage to reach the top 3 companies, it has been an extremely valuable experience and as it turned out, the rewards came later. 

Our team has been one of the few selected by Ms. Lucia Caprita to participate in a summer entrepreneurship school in Bucharest called SmartUP Challenge. The challenge seemed simple - we had one week to come up with an idea and present it to potential investors. During this week our newly formed international team had to work throughout the whole day and night so that we could manage to finish our project on time. It was difficult, but we did great. Managing our time and the cooperation with other students with varying backgrounds was a real challenge, but also a valuable asset, as it provided us with a wide variety of skills, abilities and knowledge. At a certain point of time, we were no longer simply colleagues engaged in the same project, but rather good friends and potential business partners. 

My experience in Romania would not have been fully possible without the help of mentors and volunteers from Citibank. They were the people who always challenged our ideas and pushed us to work harder. Aside from mentoring us, they also delivered lectures in different entrepreneurship areas, such as idea generation, management and marketing skills. And what could be better than learning from the best in practice? I would personally like to thank Mr. Satyender Parihar Raika (Saty) for his efforts in motivating every team. He was the person who would inspire and push us to reach our limits, even when we thought we had crossed them a long time ago. He has proven to us that what seems impossible is not always so difficult to manage and deliver on time. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with such an inspiring person, as he taught me many lessons – both personally and professionally.

I would recommend the summer school programme to anyone who is interested in developing his or her own start-up business. JA provides students with unique, challenging and valuable experiences - definitely worth trying. If you are young and motivated, do not miss this opportunity because you might not have a second chance.

Lastly, I would like to share a tip. Nobody has become successful with his 9-to-5 job. Do not be scared of the hard work, because, in the end, the benefits can be priceless and so precious that you can’t put a monetary value on it. 

Written by Nikolay Penov, a JA student from JA Bulgaria.

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