eXpress Magazine #18: The Career of an ESNer

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the magazine of the erasmus student network

express #18 WINTER 2013/2014






The Career of an ESNer I

’m in my final year of university and all anyone asks me these days is, “what are you going to once you graduate?” I dread those eight words and often find it hard to come up with a simple one-sentence answer. I also find my answer changes from week-to-week depending on my mood. I’m indecisive, wildly ambitious but I crave adventure. In light of my personal coming to terms with the fact that real life starts in just a few months, myself and the eXpress team decided that the theme of this issue of the magazine would be “The Career of an ESNer”, an issue focusing on employability in all shapes and forms. ESN is something we get involved in for so many different reasons, as was demonstrated by the #myESNstory campaign from last issue. However, increasing our employability is probably one of the last reasons on our mind. That’s not to say that ESN isn’t an extremely beneficial addition to our CVs, but it’s not why we get involved. This issue focuses on employability to give credit where credit is due. It’s time to recognise not only the wonderful memories, events, friends and experience we gain from our beloved organisation, but also the prospects that ESN opens up for us and ways in which ESN better prepares us for the “real world”. CARMEN CUESTA ROCA eXpress Coordinator 2013/2014

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EXPRESS #18 COORDINATOR Carmen Cuesta Roca SUPERVISOR Gaffar Rampage CONTENT EDITOR Carmen Cuesta Roca ART DIRECTOR Robert Klimacki EDITORIAL DESIGNERS Robert Klimacki with credit to

Jirka Matousek CONTRIBUTORS Eugénia Costa Cristina Gavrilă Stefan Jahnke Laura Köstler Stefan Melbinger Doris Monjac Jesús Escrivá Muñoz Sara Panis Adriana Pérez Encinas Ilja Celine Postel Gaffar Rampage Alicia Sanchez Carina Scharf Sara Širnik Raquel Teixeira PROOFREADERS Carmen Cuesta Roca Nives Tomas Carina Scharf Sara Širnik Brigitte Eugster Laura Köstler COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Markus Lutter

ERASMUS STUDENT NETWORK AISBL Rue Hydraulique 15 B-1210 Brussels Belgium +32 22 567 427 Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in parts without the written permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for the views and opinions expressed in this magazine by contributors. The publisher is neither responsible for nor endorses the content of published advertisements, nor can the magazine be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies in the same.

Contents 02 03

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The Career of an ESNer Contributors

Erasmus Love Stories (Part III) The Person Behind the IB: Stefan Jahnke & Jonathan Jelves The Perfect CV An ESN Success Story: Career Edition ESN Internship: An International Professional Experience within the Network The Nightmare Interview Erasmus + The Future Has Arrived! LevelUP! Training and the National Platform of ESN Croatia Sections in the Spotlight • ESN Nice • ESN Potsdam • ESN Catania • ESN Białystok Get To Know Your New ESN Employees! Why Intern Abroad? ESNSurvey 2013: Creating Ideas, Opportunities and Identity ESNers, Meet Your Future Twin Sections The Youth Guarantee: A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Youth Unemployment in Europe?

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Erasmus love stories (part III) Anna (Poland) <3 Guillermo (Mexico) ~~~~~ A story to be remembered ~~~~~ Everything happened during our student exchange in Jaén, Spain, our best opportunity as university students. We arrived to the University of Jaén in the first semester, and here we met for the first time thanks to the "International Day" celebrated by ESN Jaén. They prepared a flashmob for that day with all the Erasmus and me and Anna joined the activity and met each other. Few weeks later, the destiny (or ESN Jaén...) joined us again in a trip to Barcelona where we talked and talked while visiting the city, and become friends. That friendship become closer as we were always in the same places, met together and finally we started going out together as a couple. Second semester was awesome, living our exchange experience together, studying at the library, going to parties but also going to super market and cooking as boyfriend and girlfriend. We were so connected in little time. But we were not completely happy as we were aware that Erasmus has an end, and ours was getting closer. We had to come back our country home, and we had no idea if our love was strong enough to get over the distance between Mexico and Poland.

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During 6 months we lived our love trough Skype, facebook, movile phone and also letters. The frequent communication, the respect to the other person and our love has been essential to go on with our relationship. In September, Anna come to Mexico, and been together again was a dream come true. I show her mi country and my culture, so different to Anna's, and it was a great experience that makes us closer if possible. I also went to Poland, and I felt there like in home. We must wait long time, and save money to see each other in person, but the time we spent together has always been a great opportunity to know us as a couple. Goodbyes are always awful, and we know that our relationship is based on virtual communication, but we share everything, we try to live all our experiences together, and despite time and distance, our relationship is stronger each day. Erasmus in Jaén was the best experience in our lives, our lives have changed completely and now we are so happy. Erasmus life always marks your life, and in our case, has also brought us a true and real love. Anna and Guillermo, Erasmus in Jaén, Spain 2010/2011



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STEFAN JONATHAN 06 | express magazine • #18 Winter 2013/2014

The person behind the ib

Gaffar Rampage interviews the President and the Treasurer of Erasmus Student Network AISBL 2013/2014

So guys, what did you study and how did you end up in this inescapable organisation? Stefan: I studied Geoinformatics and Software Technology, something completely unrelated to what I’m doing now. I joined ESN in the spring of 2009 as a natural process, trying to give something back from what I experienced when I was an Erasmus student myself, in Sweden. Jonathan: I did Economics and Finance. Unfortunately it was too late when I wanted to go abroad on exchange so in 2011 I joined ESN instead. I wanted to join an organisation with a European scope and by chance happened to join an ESN meeting. And how did you get to where you are as a member of the International Board? S: I’m always striving to challenge myself and for me it was a natural step after gaining knowledge as NR of ESN Sweden, Vice-Chair of the International Committee for Education (ICE) and Eduk8 Trainer. It was either the IB or leaving ESN behind. Obviously the choice was pretty easy. My love for the network and my belief that what we do is lifechanging for many people are reasons enough to run for the IB. At the same time I see the experience I gain during this mandate as crucial step for my future career, be it another mandate in ESN or something else.


he first time I walked into the ESN House, I was immediately confronted by a grand flight of stairs and seeing the cleanliness, was hit by a sudden burning question: “Is it possible that a board full of guys live here?!” (the answer is yes, for those who are wondering). Throughout the next few days I had the pleasure of spending time in the house and getting to know the people who live in it (and also the living room, in particular the couch...). I took the opportunity to ask El Presidente Stefan Jahnke and the Money Man Jonathan Jelves some questions.


J: I’m very passionate about ESN and towards the end of my NB mandate I could clearly see that I had much more to give. I simply couldn’t stop before giving ESN my all. I think the experience you gain in the IB is very valuable for your personal development and future career. But honestly speaking, it was more about my ambition for ESN than anything else that motivated me. Any tips for future IB candidates? S: That’s an interesting question. Do’s - be honest and self-confident. Talk to people about your weaknesses and how to switch them off. Ask good friends in the network what they think you should improve to be a good candidate. Don’ts - under no circumstance try to trade votes, play political games or be unfair. Fortunately, ESNers are very much against scheming and any kind of political games. So do not try to trash other candidates but work on yourself instead. express magazine | 07

J: I did all kinds of things (to prepare). Went through old board minutes, checked the archives from all the international meetings, talked to ESNers with plenty of experience, improved my knowledge about the network and our projects in any way I could. This issue of eXpress Magazine is focused on employability. How does this year’s board promote employability? S: We are working on different initiatives connected to employability. The most important one is our newest STORY project. We will create a web-platform that will match the offers and demands of internships and Erasmus placements. At the same time we will have a study on the obstacles of internships abroad. We will then use this study to advocate and improve the framework for those kind of work experience on the European level. Additionally we are working on the ESN CV and are currently exploring new possibilities how to make the work of ESNers more recognised. Last but not least we are constantly lobbying for more recognition for non-formal and informal learning. This means that we are trying to show people how much added value it is to be an active volunteer in ESN but also in other youth organisations.

part of that is being international and being confident in a changing environment. These skills are directly addressed by mobility programmes where young people are faced with personal challenges of adapting to new environments and different cultures.

Blonde, brunette, or redhead?

Now, moving out of the office.. how do you find Brussels? Is it really dull, grey and rainy all the time like they say?

Pizza choices say a lot about people. What are your favourite toppings?

S: Brussels is actually not as rainy and dull as people often think. It has many beautiful corners and an amazing nightlife. Unfortunately with my schedule I don’t get to experience it as often as I would like. The only negative thing about Brussels is the ultra-slow administration and how “messy” things can get. PS: Never drive in Brussels if you don’t have good nerves.

talk to people about your weaknesses and how to switch them off

What do you consider most important for employability? S: First of all we have to be aware of the current situation in Europe. Youth unemployment is still high and young graduates struggle to find jobs. To gain a competitive advantage in the job market it is important to be aware of the soft-skills and competences gained throughout one’s studies. ESN offers the perfect opportunity to train skills such as team-work, intercultural understanding, communication skills and leadership. Emphasising those skills in your application and being self-confident are the most crucial elements for a successful application. J: Making sure that young people have the right set of skills for today’s economy. A big

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J: It’s not that bad but I’m mostly in the office or travelling so I wouldn’t notice so much anyway. Brussels is quite a lively and cultural city actually which is something you tend to forget when you are always hanging out in the European area. And once you get home.. how is it to live in the ESN House?

S: It’s great. I enjoy living together with other people. You always have someone around to talk to, share dinner or simply hang out with. I think most people have quite a wrong impression of the ESN house. It is a place where the IB tries to ‘rest’ and as such is not as exciting as people think. J: We are all good friends so we goof on each other all the time. It’s often very quiet at the house though because people are either at the office or travelling. When we are together we make sure to have a good time, lots of joking around and that stuff. Now for some quickfire personal questions. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? S: Shower J: Turn on my computer and drink a glass of water

S: I am definitely blonde ;-) J: I have my preference but I don’t want to discourage anyone.

S: Am I Italian? I eat potatoes! Fried, boiled, mashed, microwaved or from the oven.Fun-fact: Do you know that in Sweden the most popular pizza is the Kebab pizza? J: Capricciosa is my favorite pizza so basically everything on that one. Can Robert dance? S: He can dance. Compared to me he only knows the basics though ;-) (Sorry Robert!) J: I’ve heard he dances hip hop or something similar but I’ve never seen it. As far as I know only Stefan has a signature dance. Lastly… if you were trapped on an island and you had to bring one current IB member with you, who would it be? S: I’d make a mutant out of all four: Dom’s dedication and cooking skills, Jonathan’s humor and out-of-the-box thinking, Salih’s positive attitude and laxity and last but not least Robert’s creativity and enthusiasm. We went to the lonely island to have our ESN Office there right? J: Salih, he’s the king of barbecue.

express magazine | 09

The Perfect Curriculum Vitae ...or: Convincing the recruiters in a few seconds



Let’s start with some generalities. If you apply for a vacancy in an international company, you should definitely send an English version of your CV as the recruiters might be international too. Moreover, the curriculum vitae should be 1-2 pages long and clearly structured. All in all, there should be a balance between information overload and needed details. Regarding the layout, you're completely free. However, you should keep it simple and clear, especially with respect to colours and fonts (French people may not agree with me as their CVs are usually colourful and rather overloaded). A fancy design may catch the recruiter’s attention but beware that it is appropriate for the position you're applying for. Not only the content but also your CV's layout gives an insight into your personality. That's one reason why I advise you not to use Europass (http://europass. Secondly, it's unclearly arranged and often too long. Nevertheless, the preferences regarding this special formatting may vary from company to company and recruiter to recruiter. Start with general information about your person such as your name, current phone number and email address. Don’t mention your religion or who your parents are. Two other tricky aspects: your birth date and your picture. What is common in Germany may be unwelcome or even forbidden in the UK so don’t forget to check the rules before sending your data. If you add a picture, use a professional one on which you smile and look competent. A picture of you as a DJ or with a cocktail in your hand may decrease your chances to get forwarded to the next step in the recruitment

process. It’s not only the obvious though. You may resemble the recruiter’s exboyfriend or best friend. Even if recruiters have to be neutral, they are not immune to unconscious impressions. And that’s what the CV is all about considering that many candidates have the needed skills: make a good first impression and standing out of the mass. Bear that information in mind when deciding about the picture. If you put one, it has to be of good quality and not pixelated. The same rule applies to logos. After this header with personal hard facts, you should continue with your experience and skills. I would advise you to divide the information into the chapters Education, Work Experience, Volunteer Experience, Language Skills, and Additional Information / Skills in the given order. Here again the motto is “Less is more!”. Use bullet points and try to be short and concise. If you mention your grades in the education part, give a little guide about the grading system because it differs largely between countries. The work experience chapter should contain the following details: which company, where situated, how long, which kind of contract as well as which tasks. Many articles give the advice not to use buzzwords or management jargon but I have to say that I don't share this opinion. When screening CVs, I don't have the time to read all the information and decide if the experiences suit the requirements. The buzzwords of the job description catch my eye and make me read the CV more attentively afterwards. However, they should be included in a subtle way. Don't copy and paste the job description! Furthermore, you shouldn't use too many abbreviations and if you use some, remember that they must

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} by Carina Scharf

be commonly known. If there are any gaps in your CV, clarify them (e.g., travelling or job search). Moreover, you're CV shouldn't end before the application date. That would make the recruiter wonder what you are currently doing. Don't cheat with your language skills. Normally, the first step in a successful recruitment process is an FCI (First Contact Interview) in which you're language skills are tested. It takes less than one minute to check if your skills are really as good as stated. Use beginner, intermediate, advanced and negotiation level to rate your foreign language skills and don't forget to mention your mother tongue(s) in this part. At the end, you should add a paragraph with additional skills such as IT skills, driving license, scholarships as well as some personal information. This helps to get to know you but if it's not essential for your application, you can also leave the hobbies out. After having finished all those points, you're still not done. Now, it's time to check for language and spelling mistakes. Additionally, you have to make sure that the CV represents you perfectly. Before adding this CV to your application(s), adapt it to the position. Try to put yourself in the recruiter's position. Would you like to invite this person to a personal interview after having read this CV? If yes, go ahead with your application. Good luck!


„Apologies for the unsolicited e-mail, but I was advised that this is the best way to contact you. I work for a head-hunting company, specializing in headhunting high flying graduates looking for professional roles postuniversity. As a board member of ESN Austria, I felt that you may potentially be a very valuable person to be in touch with in relation to an opportunity which we are working on.” This is the beginning of an e-mail I received in February 2011, when I was close to the end of my mandate as National Representative, thinking about finally finishing my studies and considering a job offer I got in my hometown, Vienna. The e-mail made me curious. For the first time, I saw ESN - this immensely important part of my private life - being mentioned in a professional context. For the first time, I was valued not only for the formal education I had received and the jobs I had been paid for, but also for my voluntary work. I told the headhunting company that I was interested and agreed on a first interview on the phone, during which I had to explain every detail of my CV – which has included and will always include my life with ESN. Subsequently, I was invited to a personal interview

and finally to an assessment centre in Germany. The assessment centre’s key challenge was the personal interview and looking back, I feel that I talked about ESN 80% of the time. “How do you manage your time and tasks? How would you go about managing projects in diverse teams? What does good leadership mean to you?” I am convinced that ESNers can easily find answers to questions like these, looking back on their experience with projects involving exchange students, co-volunteers and friends in sections all over the world. Likewise, the answers came easily to me. More than two years later, I just finished a highly valued traineeship program with the international network operator Telefónica, had the chance to work in two European countries, was selected for an employee volunteering programme in South America and actively applied skills which I had acquired working for ESN. Trust me: The professional world is ready to hear about your ESN experiences!

express magazine | 11



An international professional experience within the network

by Alicia Sanchez

Nowadays our university studies are not enough to cope with the expectations of the job market. Companies are not only looking for graduates, but also for students with high language levels and different skills, preferably obtained through experiences rather than books. Therefore, doing an internship during our studies, or at the very end of them is almost an obligation for those who want to succeed in their job seeking. Our job possibilities increase even further if the internship takes place abroad. However it is sometimes difficult to find a company that is able to recruit interns. Erasmus Student Network has become aware of this reality, and in the recent times has been offering great opportunities for interns. Have you ever consider doing an internship? ESN could be the place for you! ESN sections in Spain and France have already launched open calls for interns, and there are many ESNers from all Europe who have already enjoyed this opportunity. ESN Spain, as a federation, is also currently looking for an intern, so keep an eye out! ESN offers an international atmosphere, the chance to learn a new language and to practice many others at the same time. The ESN sections offer well-structured projects to the interns to make their experience as profitable as possible, most of them are also supervised by national boards and an assigned tutor in order to certify the quality

of the internship. The profiles offered are very various and depend on the section’s needs, but they usually try to cover fields such as communication, management, IT, design, finances, and customer service. The section offers a place to work in their offices so the intern can experience the section’s daily life, get in touch with the Erasmus, and learn about different ways to work within ESN. Having an intern is very helpful for the sections as well since the members are volunteers. Having a full time person who is committed to a project, (usually 35 hours per week) allows the sections to improve their capacity to cover the Erasmus’ needs, and offer new services to the International Students. Sometimes local boards do not have a specific person in charge of communication, or there are no members with IT knowledge, therefore having an intern is an invaluable aid. Also, ESN is always open to new ideas and projects, so the intern usually is free to express and elaborate upon these new projects. As Thalia, the ESN intern of ESN UPV (Spain) points out: “Maybe in a private company you become familiar with deadlines, bosses and strict timetables, but in ESN I was able to actively participate in the creation of a project and to work on it during the whole process”. ESN UPV wanted to professionalise their services, so they created internships. Since then, many ESNers and Erasmus have been part of their team. There are many options for

interns and sections to develop a useful and valuable exchange. E.g. ESN Besaçon has been offering internships for the past 3 years as part of their SocialErasmus actions, and their interns are engaged within the social and cultural projects. The process to become intern for an ESN section is similar to any other internship process. It is needed in order to obtain a scholarship grant such as Leonardo, Erasmus Placement, or Odyssey, and all the paperwork with your home university must be managed. At the end of the internship, the section will complete all documents to prove that the internship was accomplished and that the intern obtained all the competences required in order to obtain a certificate. ESNers like Ania ( ESN University of Warsaw) , Thalia ( ESN KAPA Athens) and Ana ( ESN UPF) have enjoyed this experience and really recommend it. Also, many sections have improved their projects and actions thanks to the help of an intern, so do not hesitate and seek out this opportunity!

THE NIGHTMARE INTERVIEW In the second year of my studies, I realised that my travel budget was slowly dwindling and my semester load of classes were at a low point. So I decided to look for a part-time job – something where I could make money fast. After receiving lots of recommendations from friends, family and fellow students, one job was very appealing to me: apparently some charter airlines were supposedly in need of flight attendants, especially during the summer months. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. Mondays and Tuesdays I had class and the rest of the week I could be travelling around Europe. Therefore, I searched the Internet and immediately found openings with an airline whose interviews were even held closely to where I lived. As you probably know, there are always some rumours going around about how you must wear high heels as a flight attendant or must not exceed a certain height, etc. but I figured it didn’t hurt to try. A few weeks after I had sent my application form and CV, I received an invitation to an interview that took place within few days. The day arrived and I was wearing high heels, a decent amount of make-up, my finest suit and big smile on my face. While walking through the massive doors of the business building, I already noticed the 70 other people looking like me on the outside – some heavier, some skinnier, some a lot skinnier, some older and some younger. Eventually someone came and told us to follow him into a room that resembled, in many ways, a lecture hall. Once all applicants had found a seat, the jury introduced themselves: a shorter man, a very tall blonde woman and a taller man. All three of them were probably in their mid-thirties and apart from the first, were very strict looking. It felt like a casting show – you know one of those Idol or Got talent ones. The only difference was that both the tall guy and the woman would be Simon Cowell or Dieter Bohlen in this scenario, which left only one nice jury member. The first round consisted of a questionnaire which was meant to test our general knowledge, but also our English and social skills. However, a lot of the questions were relating to the personal success of the airline owner – who was a celebrity so-to-say. When I handed my sheets in, I got the impression that something was not quite right. We could not just simply put the paper on a pile; we all had to hand it to someone in person by looking at them and telling them your name.

by Laura Köstler

enough, all 30+ applicants somehow did not manage to make it to the next round. This news made some people bust into tears. All 40 remaining applicants were invited into the room, separately, to answer a few general-knowledge questions, which included capital cities, monuments of specific cities and much more. Luckily, I had been to Paris with school once, so I could roughly answer all of them. Two hours later the jury spoke again. After this quality face-toface time with each applicant, it was very suspicious to see that suddenly the few male candidates and any larger women were eliminated. The following rounds consisted of a personal interview time, which at first seemed like they were actually interested in our CV, but soon turned out to be another torture method. At the end of one of these sessions, the bad-cop jury members asked me if I was sure about anything in life because I kept saying “I think”, “I guess”… Though, in my opinion, those phrases help you not sound too stuck up. During all these waiting periods, I spoke to many other girls and some seemed really intelligent – sadly they did not make it that far – while others were dropouts and spent their time in beauty school or similar institutions. Before the last challenge, I noticed that the remaining group of girls had gotten a lot skinnier, blonder, tanner and hardly anyone could speak English. Then after the last round, which was a simulation of annoying and difficult passenger – all in the presence of the airline’s owner (who specifically dropped by for that) – they called out the name of 15 applicants, including me. We made it. Eight hours of mental and physical harassment – we had been told to tie our disgusting hair back, remove disgusting nail polish and wear elegant make-up – were finally over. At the same time, some of us found out that they were only hiring full-time and for a one-year minimum. So in the end it was all for nothing because I did not take the job, right? Wrong. Throughout that day, I dealt with several job interview scenarios, in English and my mother tongue. Like the other applicants, I was indirectly called dumb, disgusting and too heavy. I was asked inappropriate and disjointed questions, but I learned so much. Dealing with these uncomfortable situations made me so much more confident for all the other interviews that followed. This is why I want to appeal to you: get as much experience as possible with job interviews! That one interview even helped me feel more secure during presentations for my courses and even if you go through a horrible interview, it will only make you that much stronger for the ones to follow.

My suspicion was indeed proven right when we all went back into the room to hear who made it to the next round. Oddly express magazine | 13

THE FUTURE HAS ARRIVED The Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament have come to an agreement about the new European programme on Education, Training, Youth and Sport. Previous suggestions for the name of the follow-up of the Lifelong Learning Programme (running from 2007-2013) were “Erasmus for all” proposed by the European Commission and “YES Europe” suggested by the European Parliament and you might remember that ESN conducted a short survey asking exchange students about their preferences. However, after two years of negotiations, the final name will be Erasmus+ [3] because the programme will be about much more than just the Erasmus sub-programme, according to Doris Pack, member of the Committee on Culture and Education in the European Parliament. The new programme aims at streamlining and simplifying all sub-programmes of the Lifelong Learning Programme into one single programme covering Education, Training, Youth and Sport. Erasmus student mobility, as part of the Erasmus+ programme, will obtain the biggest share of the budget of the new programme totalling around 14.5 billion euros. From 2014-2020, the new programme seeks to reach more than 4 million learners, which is an outstanding number compared to the 3 million students who have been on exchange during the last 25 years. The results of the collateral negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework indicate that the new programme will not get the originally proposed 19 billion euros. ESN believes that the likely final budget allocation reflects the minimum needed to support education and training on the European level and considers the outcome satisfactory given the continuously precarious economic situation of the European Union. There will be three key actions in the programme. The first one will be Learning Mobility, which accounts for most of the budget.

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The other two key actions will be Co-operation projects and Policy Support. That way, Erasmus+ envisages to welcome more international students from different non-EU countries like China, India and South Korea and, therefore, more co-operations and new international relations will be established by Higher Education Institutions. Moreover, there will be separate chapters for Youth and Sports.

Values The added value of the upcoming programme will be to help citizens acquire more and better skills and to increase the quality in Higher Education in Europe.Beyond, it supports the modernization of the education and training systems of member states and non-EU partner countries and encourages the participation of the society.

Skills According to the data of the EC, still 85% of the European students are not internationally mobile. Universities need to promote language skills, develop international curricula and expand digital opportunities. As a result of the EC initiative Opening up Education [1,2] and in conjunction with the new Erasmus+ programme, the Commission has launched the website Open Education Europa which will allow students, practitioners and educational institutions to share open educational resources. This free website will increase the digital skills of many students and will provide schools and universities with digital resources in a landscape of an average percentage of 50-80% of EU students that have never used a digital textbook, online exercises or even educational games. Additionally, the action plan tackles the challenge that HEIs will

ERASMUS+ face with the significant increase of students in the upcoming years. The use of digital platforms such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will help providing access to education to anyone and from anywhere.

Employability One of the strongest aims of Europe and of Erasmus+ is to create employment and growth for young people. It is necessary to help youthsdeveloping all necessary skills to find a future job. Funds can also be given for vocational and educational training, which should be based on the needs of the labour market and provide the best possible quality of Higher Educations systems. In fact, a completely new element will be part of Erasmus+: the creation of 400 knowledge and sector skills alliances. Knowledge alliances are large-scale partnerships between Higher Education Institutions and businesses in order to promote creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship by offering new learning opportunities and qualifications. Sector skills alliances are partnerships between education and training providers and businesses to promote employability by forming new sector-specific curricula and innovative forms of vocational teaching and training.

Loan Guarantee Scheme One of the most controversial parts of the original proposal, the Loan Guarantee Scheme, has finally been kept in the new programme - though with a lower budget allocation than originally foreseen. The scheme will enable Master students from participating countries to obtain loans subsidised by Erasmus+ funds. The new programme will give students the possibility to go on exchange at destinations outside of Europe, an option that does not exist in the current programme. In fact, despite great disagreement with many youth stakeholders, the European Commission highlights the added value of the system at EU level even in the member states that have their own student loan schemes. In many countries such systems are often restricted to students of national institutions or to undergraduates. In any case, this scheme is supposed to be reviewed in 2017. While the overall framework of the new programme is now agreed upon, many details still need to be developed. In October, the Erasmus+ programme guide should be completed and the publication of calls for proposals should be ready in NovemberDecember.

to have been consulted on many of the relevant elements of the programme. Now that the legal basis is agreed upon, ESN will continue contributing and making suggestions on how to further improve the quality of student mobility. Full recognition of credits obtained abroad is still one of the main concerns for Erasmus students and ESN will keep pinpointing remaining deficiencies and supporting the European Commission’s work on solving this issue.

Key figures: Erasmus+ (2014-2020) Overall budget €19 billion (includes €1.8 billion for international cooperation) Overall mobility opportunities 5 million people Higher education 2.2 million students Staff mobility 1 million teachers, trainers, youth workers and other staff Vocational education and training 735 000 students Volunteer and youth exchange schemes 540 000 young people Master's degree loan guarantee scheme 330 000 students International students 135 000 students Joint degree grants 34 000 students Cooperation targets: Strategic Partnerships More than 20 000 linking together 115 000 institutions Knowledge Alliances 200 set up by 2000 higher education institutions and businesses Sectoral Skills Alliances 200 set up by 2000 education and training providers and businesses REFERENCES: [1]

In any case, the Erasmus Student Network has given continuous input on the current Erasmus programme over the past 6 years via the ESNSurvey and PRIME research and ESN is pleased

[2] [3]

express magazine | 15

The person behind the ib

LevelUP! Training and the National Platform

of ESN Croatia by Doris Monjac


he 3rd National Platform of ESN Croatia took place in Rijeka from September 18–22 2013. It started off with a two-day LevelUP! training carried out by EduK8ers Stefan Fiedrich from ESN Mesa Munich and Alen Zoković from ESN Zagreb, also the first (and so far the only) Croatian trainer in the Eduk8 team. So, why LevelUP? Because the main idea behind the project was to “level up” Croatian ESN sections, most of which are rather young and only recently founded - in 2011 and 2012, right after Croatia joined the Lifelong Learning Programme and Erasmus ceased to be that cool student exchange program only available for the EU member states. Over the last couple of years, Croatia has not only recorded the highest increase in the number of outgoing Erasmus students in all of Europe (+62%)1, but the number of incoming exchange students has doubled

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as well, especially in the light of the recent EU accession that helped overcome bureaucratic obstacles for studying in Croatia. Due to such recent turn of events, it is not surprising to hear that young Croatian ESN sections are now facing the challenges of increasing student mobility on the local and national level. In order to provide Croatian ESN'ers with section-empowerment opportunities, the training was devoted to two crucial topics Project & Event Management and Human Resources. The main idea behind the first topic was to improve old and gain new organisational skills. This was mainly done through event planning and goal setting workshops, with special focus on the area that leaves most room for improvement time management. At the same time, the Human Resources track dwelled on the hot topic of volunteers’ motivation, especially in the context of recruiting new ESN members. Tailored to ESN’ers needs, the workshops helped us in becoming aware

of our personal strengths and weaknesses, and gave us a clue of how applying them properly can contribute to the overall efficiency and quality work of our sections. The newly acquired skills set the basis for a common national strategy and activity plan for the upcoming year, outlined and discussed at the two-day National Platform that followed right after the training. Some of the focal points were: the first Croatian National Event, the National SocialErasmus Event and the 25th Anniversary of ESN. Also, as most members have never had a chance to meet their fellow ESN’ers from other cities prior to this training, the communication level among members of different Croatian sections was rather poor before LevelUP! However, packed with teambuilding activities, this event was a valuable opportunity for members of all sections to get to know each other better: Rijeka City Game, Croatian Dinner, Wine Cantus, PinUP! & Sailor Party… Not only


N Cro S E

ia at


National Platform Rijeka, 18-22 September 2013

have they intensified the communication among section members, but they have already led to plans for section cooperation in the upcoming semester, starting with an Erasmus trip to Dubrovnik by ESN Rijeka. The participants’ overall satisfaction with the training was also expressed in the wrapup evaluation. Thanks to our trainers Alen and Stefan who helped us LevelUP!, this event truly was an empowering experience for ESN Croatia! We would like to thank everyone who supported the LevelUP! project, especially the Croatian National Agency (Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes), the University of Rijeka (Student Union and UNIRI Foundation), the City of Rijeka and, last but not least - the ESN Alumni Network, who chose to support the OC (ESN Rijeka) with their Alumni Award at AGM Maribor for the best project proposal for a training event.

ESN Nice After a heatwave that has hit most of Europe for the past few weeks, ESN Nice brings a breath a fresh air as the SitS winner for August 2013! Starting in February 2011, ESN Nice is a relatively new section, founded by a group of students returning from their Erasmus programmes. Now the section has 25 active members, and its staff represent 8 nationalities, and combined together speak 12 different languages. An impressive feat, even within ESN! The team retains a good balance of knowledge, experience and creativity with its mixture of former, current and future Erasmus students.

Despite it’s youth, ESN Nice has demonstrated great interest in international involvement. As a reward for their enthusiasm, ESN Nice was given the opportunity to host the French National Platform in their city. The event welcomed 70 participants from all over France, as well as some special guests from Germany and Italy. This growing motivation to get involved with ESN on all levels has allowed a former member to actually become part of the International Board and two current members to have key positions next to the France National Board (Webmaster and Vice-President of the Department of Activities). To stay organised, the section typically uses Facebook and Google tools and holds regular meetings in order to keep up-to-

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AUGUST 2013 SECTION IN THE SPOTLIGHT date. Communication between ESN Nice and the international students is achieved in several ways: a weekly newsletter, a Facebook group and a unique website. ESN Nice is special in that it is one of the few associations present on all the campuses in Nice and on the three other campuses in the cities nearby. The section makes sure to maintain this position by taking part in the city life of Nice. Not only do they attend the main events of the region, including Cannes film festival, but they also make sure to organise their own involvement within the city. This they do through a mixture of cultural events and thematic parties, to entertain their members as well as offer them an insight into the local life around the area. ESN Nice even has their own football team, which takes part in local tournaments! Aside from these one-off events, ESN Nice makes sure to maintain structure and continuity through not one, not two, but FOUR weekly events: the Cineforum on Mondays where the students gather together and go to see a movie in the original language usually with French subtitles (if it isn’t a French movie), the salsa lessons on Wednesdays that always end up with a very nice and convivial party feeling, the Each One Teach One, a two hour conversation group

in three different languages (changing every week) on Thursdays, and the Krav Maga demonstration and practice (self defence sport) on Saturdays. This is a way for the international students to interact with each other, but also with local ESN-ers. But ESN Nice’s activities stretch far beyond the typical entertainment you may encounter elsewhere. The development of certain SocialErasmus activities has been particularly notable and shows an engagement that goes beyond parties and the like. These activities and events include donating blood, spreading love by giving free hugs and an original trip organised for the visually impaired to visit the region via tandem bicycles. This commitment to the community is very impressive and demonstrates that ESN is a serious and dedicated organisation as well as a fun student group! Needless to say, ESN Nice is not only fun and creative but organised and extremely involved. All this, despite their youth as a section, should provide you all with hope that with hard work and determination, anything is possible!


ESN Potsdam

With the beginning of new academic year, Germany joins the ranks of ESN countries proud to have their first Section in the Spotlight thanks to ESN Potsdam becoming the winner of the month September. ESN Potsdam was built on foundations of the Local Erasmus Initiative (LEI) which emerged in 2000 as part of national network of Erasmus clubs supported by National Agency with the aim of supporting integration of incoming Erasmus students into the local student life and help them become acquainted with German culture. But it was not before March 2008, when this LEI transformed into ESN Potsdam as an official member of ESN with all that comes along.

At the moment ESN Potsdam counts up to 20 active volunteers including a 3-man Board made of President, vice-President & Treasurer. Apart from that the structure of the section is composed from task- specific positions and committees. ESN Potsdam operates on all three university campuses, having an office on each of them with regular office hours. Weekly meetings are the defining moment of coordination of section

activities, where all present members can partake on decision making process. In terms of knowledge transfer an internal mentoring system was introduced, where every new member gets a mentor assigned. These relationships can last as long as the new section member feels experienced/ integrated enough to become a mentor themselves. Other than that, every new member gets an extensive booklet containing all the necessary information about ESN Potsdam, members & events that are being made. This booklet is being constantly updated to always provide the latest information and only printed on demand.

SEPTEMBER 2013 SECTION IN THE SPOTLIGHT ESN Potsdam also stores all their knowledge via. Google Sites. In terms of event management, ESN Potsdam members prefer to be highly organised and plan ahead. That is why 2 weeks before the semester begins a full event calendar for upcoming semester is completed, which is afterwards printed and handed out to incoming Erasmus students as part of Welcome package. Aside from that, activities are being promoted via. FB Groups/Pages and website. What makes ESN Potsdam unique is however the fact, that they are the first section in ESN to develop their own iPhone App, where their exchange students can find all the necessary information about ESN Potsdam, event calendar and office hours. Yet another step in the right direction. Needless to say the App for Android users is under construction. While there is no ESN section in Berlin yet, many events of ESN Potsdam do take place there. Guided tours, visits of various

museums & exhibitions, theatre/opera/ballet performances, visits of various sites from Communism & Nazi era. You name it and they have already done it or are planning to do. A great emphasis is put on German history of 20th century as the past cannot be changed but it can be learnt from. Sports events also play a big role in event calendar. ESN Potsdam is a fine example of section, where parties do not necessarily have to play the main role amongst section activities. Also, all events are open for both Potsdam & Berlin exchange students to

take part in. As former LEI, ESN Potsdam also gets funding from the National Agency. They maintain a great level of cooperation with their home university where one of the IRO employees manages the whole buddy system for ESN Potsdam which is much appreciated. In the end of every semester, all local students returning from their exchange receive a personal email from the President of ESN Potsdam welcoming them home and inviting them to join ESN Potsdam as members. A great recruitment method, but ESN Potsdam also allows their exchange students to join the section as active members with only requirement being the knowledge of German language. Then these exchange students work side by side with local members. Every month a „members-only-social“ event takes place, to foster the sense of belonging to the section and strengthen the links between section members. It can be anything from cooking in someone’s place through minigolf to cinema visits. On top of that a professional teambuilding event takes place once per semester with workshops & lectures to further improve their work towards exchange students. Since they joined ESN, ESN Potsdam never missed a National platform or an international ESN event where they could participate. In fact, they were even the first OC section of the German National Event „ESNters the City“ which they have already organised twice- in December 2009 and in December 2011 in Berlin with more than 800 participants! They also had some of their members become part of National Board and currently the National Representative of ESN Germany can call ESN Potsdam her home section. So this is ESN Potsdam, the first ESN section to develop an iPhone App that does nearly anything possible to make sure exchange students get to know Germany, its culture and history really well. The first German Section in the Spotlight. And probably not the last one.


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esn catania

With the arrival of October, we all know that winter is about to sneak up on us. As days get colder, our heads hang lower as we feel sad that summer is really over. This is clearly not the case for the ESNers from ESN Catania (IT-CATA-ASE), because they represent the latest section to have won Section in the Spotlight. This month’s winner hails from ESN Italy, was created in 2009 and has done great things in the past 4 years, all of which should be an inspiration to us all.

Created in the first semester of 2009, ESN Catania was officially accepted into the National Network of ESN Italy in July 2009. Founded by 4 students, the section now has about 20 active members and is unique in that the current board is totally new! The previous board was completely replaced by new members, which might have presented some issues. However, the section’s handover period is cleverly situated in the middle of the academic year so that the new board members can be properly trained. The section runs very efficiently, so much so, that they have been trusted with the task of organising the Italian National Event for 3 years in a row (2010/2011/2012). The project involves about 2000 participants (a mixture of ESNers and Erasmus students) and took place in Kastalia.

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OCTOBER 2013 SECTION IN THE SPOTLIGHT ESN Catania also makes sure to get involved in the Social Erasmus project of ESN. They were the first in Italy (even before the Social Erasmus project) to organise the Erasmus/ESN blood donation day in Catania. This event takes place twice a year, involving not only Erasmus students but also the locals. The section has also enthusiastically taken on the “Erasmus in Schools” project. In May 2013, ESN Catania visited two secondary schools. Six Erasmus students presented themselves and their experiences at home and abroad to an audience of nearly 90 young students. Another creative activity that ESN Catania has organised is the collaboration they have with a radio station ( They created an original weekly radio show called “Il folle Erasmo” and it is aired over FM and the internet every Wednesday at 4pm. Every week, Erasmus students tell of their experiences in Catania, and in doing so, promote and share the ESN lifestyle. A tandem project, biannual cinema club and cultural trips some up the rest of the

vast amount of events organised by ESN Catania. They make sure to include international students in 100% of their activities but also warmly welcome local student to join in. They really try to embody the idea that is at the core of ESN: “Students helping Students”. Their goals aren’t just focused on Erasmus students: they work to make the University of Catania a better place for all students. Since the very beginning ESN Catania has been a wonderful example of how people without much experience can produce big results: the perfect mix between the skill and the right enthusiasm. Everything is possible if the right approach to do something important is chosen.


ESN PB BiaŁystok „Big hug from our mascot bison ŻUBeR!” That’s how their application form finished and how our article begins. ŻUBeR… Żubrówka… your intuition is right- the November winner of Section in the Spotlight comes from Poland. Coming to life in 2008, ESN PB Białystok is yet another example of how great experience with ESN during ones Erasmus can motivate you to create a new section back home. Karolina, Kasia and Julian, the original founders of ESN PB began their work in very difficult conditions. With their home University showing disapproval to their efforts and no funds, the situation seemed quite desperate. However it only took 1 year and the tables have turned. As a result of their hard work the amount of incoming Erasmus students almost doubled and suddenly the future looked much brighter. ESN PB has around 20 members organised in various working groups. The section meetings happen every week and the work of section is organised using various tools such as Trello etc. The section invests to its members through sending the to various trainings and thanks to Białystok University of Technology an all-section trainings and integration trips for members occur at least once per semester. Currently ESN PB assists creation of another section in their city and has recently created a section cooperation with ESN Covilha, created by former Erasmus students in Białystok. Be it ESN Poland, SocialErasmus activities play an essential role in ESN PB activities. Last year more than 2 000 trees were planted during the Erasmus Forest project. An International Santa Claus, a rather well known SE activity gets a whole new meaning when you include regular visits of the orphanage while teaching children other languages, culture and games. What’s more, a part of project includes creation of Christmas Cards by the children that are later being sold and collected money donated to the orphanage. At the end of the whole project a Christmas Party with all the children and Erasmus students that participated takes place. Among other SocialErasmus projects are events like “Szlachetna Paczka” a popular charity event where public can donate food, clothes, money


and other things to families in need. Following the recent displays of racist behavior towards some Erasmus students, ESN PB organized an educational campaign “Open your mind” that gained lots of positive attention throughout local media, citizens of Bialystok and Erasmus students. With an aim to promote tolerance and fight against racism and discrimination the main motto of the campaign was “We are all foreigners!” The idea was to create a human “chain of friendship” to show that different nationality doesn’t matter at all. Other ESN PB events aim to make Erasmus students more acquainted with polish culture through teaching traditional Polish dances, various trips around Poland or exchange cuisine via. making Eurodinners. Many of other events could hardly exist without help of local buddies. This year ESN PB has more than 80 of them and organization of Orientation Week, Language Tandems and other section activities heavily relies on them. Apart from local initiatives, ESN PB also takes part in national projects such as ESNOLYMPICS or Discover Europe competition. Their once weak cooperation with Białystok University of Technology has now grown very strong and thanks to it section not only gained access to university media center to use their resources to record their activities to promotes themselves,

but also financial and material support. Being an outstanding section requires dedication to work on all ESN levels. Already four ESN PB members are active in ESN Poland Committees. The section hosted both Delegates Meeting (polish small NP) and a national training event "Świeżynki". At the moment they work on organization of December National Platform that will take place one week after CND Łódź. With one section member in ComCom, ESN PB also makes contribution towards ESN International and never misses a chance to attend International ESN event, be it AGM or Regional Platform. “Motivation and involvement have never been a problem in our section. Through this application we would like to show our members how big work they do and that this work is appreciated in ESN International.” One thing is certain; this article may as well contribute to fulfilling that wish. And I hope more sections will follow an example of ESN PB Bialystok, trying to recognize work of their volunteers wherever possible, even through applying for Section in the Spotlight.


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by Sara Ĺ irnik

At the beginning of October, four new members joined the ESN Office as interns and employees. Find out what they think about their new jobs, why they chose to work for ESN and whether the International Board members sleepwalk below - including a short interview with the President of ESN International Stefan Jahnke, the two interns Stefan and Petr and the two new employees, Mohammed and Margarida!

INTERVIEW WITH MR. PRESIDENT How did the general process of finding new interns and employees go? Did you receive many applications for each position (and tell us the secret! How many?) and how did you choose the most suitable candidates? Stefan: In total we received around 400 applications. For each of the positions we decided to interview 5-10 people. What was your involvement in the process of choosing the new interns and employees and to what extent was it the decision of the whole IB together with you? Who else had a say in it? Stefan: All the interviews were conducted by Brikena, our Director and one or two board members, depending on the responsibility. E.g. Jonathan (Treasurer) conducted the interviews with the fundraiser and Robert (Communication Manager) the

interviews for the Communication intern while I took care of the two employees for the STORY grant and helped with some of the other interviews. Do the interns / employees work with the IB? How do you get along? :) Stefan: In the office everyone works with everyone somehow. As the President I am responsible for all the employees and interns. The Communication intern works closely with Robert (Communication Manager) and Morena (Partnership Manager). The financial assistant is working closely with Jonathan (Treasurer) and so forth. We get along really well even if the employees and interns don't see the board that often. We travel a lot so it is a real challenge to stay updated and to keep everyone busy. The office generally has a very friendly atmosphere and we try not to have a very strong hierarchy so that everyone feels equally important and people enjoy working here.

INTERVIEWS WITH THE INTERNS AND THE EMPLOYEES Would you shortly introduce yourself and the work you do at the ESN Office? Stefan: I am Stefan from Germany. Having studied European Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and having spent my Erasmus time in Istanbul, I am naturally interested in European affairs and the ESN work on local and international level. Currently, I am doing the EF Global Intern program, which, luckily, also includes a three months internship at ESN. My tasks here in Brussels mainly consist of research related activities. Petr: Yep, technologies, business and design are the most important keywords that can describe me. My goal is to change user experience from non-comfortable user interfaces to an amazing digital way. By the way, my name is Petr and you can find me under alias KoziRS on net. My position is called Communication and Media internship, but I usually do everything that has to get done, as is probably a normal routine in all NGOs. The working tools are divided into Adobe, social networks and sometimes a screwdriver. Mohammed: My name is Mohammed Nassar, originally from Palestine. I am 28 years old. In 2007 I got my bachelor's degree in Information Technology Systems. I obtained my master's degree

MARGARIDA 22 | express magazine • #18 Winter 2013/2014 Web Project Coordinator - STORY



in Applied Computer Science from the Faculty of Engineering in the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. I worked for several years in the IT field especially in WEB Engineering. I love programming and cooking. I am currently working for Erasmus Student Network organisation in Brussels as a WEB Developer. I am mainly responsible for the development of STORY platform. In addition, I have been involved in the development process of several projects e.g. Galaxy, Satellite and EVA. Margarida: My name is Margarida Carvalho, I’m a 26 year old Portuguese girl who loves travelling, reading and doing yoga. Currently, I am the Web Project Coordinator for STORY Project, the main aim of which is to improve the accessibility and quality of international placements and to increase the awareness regarding the existence of such opportunities for youth. Therefore, my work at the ESN Office is being in charge of the coordination of the project, organising everything project related and making sure that everything happens at the right time and within budget. Have you been part of ESN prior to starting your work here? Stefan: Yes, I got to know ESN as a board member at my home university (ESN Twente) and as an Erasmus student at ESN ExIstanbul in Turkey! Petr: No. But I found my own platform and we were working together with other students at University of Pardubice during one year. The platform has name Geek Group and its goal is to connect, educate and inspire students from University of Pardubice with business sphere.

You only started working at the office a few days ago. What is your impression of the first days? Stefan: It is a really nice and friendly atmosphere. For those who don't know it, the office is apparently an old flat and hence also provides a family environment. After the first days, I would say that the ESN Office in Brussels is an amazing place to work for ESNers. Mohammed: I would like to say that working at ESN Office is a really great experience. The International Board and the Secretariat team are so collaborative. The fixable IT committee which I am working closely with accelerates the work progress and facilitates the development process. And what I really like is that cooking and eating together makes a great and collaborative environment. Do you live at the ESN House and how do you find your new home? (Tell us all the dirty details about the daily routines of the IB! Pleeeease! Does Robert dance in his sleep?) Stefan: Yes, I am living in the ESN House. It feels like living in an international hostel, which is nice for people who like travelling. It's a very cosy and nice house with lots of visitors coming over from time to time. The visitors are often shocked when they realize that the whole international board is sleepwalking at night. And we usually are even more shocked when we open the fridge in the morning and realize that they have eaten all our food during their sleepwalking...So, not only Robert dances in his sleep! ;)

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MEET NBM insidijon your new2013 ESN EMPLOYEES

Margarida: I lived at ESN house for my first two weeks in Brussels and the house is really cool with its lovely backyard!

How do you think this position will contribute to your future professional career?

Now, for the cheesy question: why did you decide to apply for the position? How did you feel when you were chosen?

Mohammed: After a month working at the ESN office, collaborating with ESN International board, Secretariat team and IT Committee, I am certain that this position will help me to develop the skills I already have and gain new knowledge and skills. Since ESN has a great IT committee, which works closely with ESN team this will help me much in any future professional career especially in the IT field.

Petr: I applied because at first glance the position looked as if it was created exactly for my professional profile. When I received email that I was chosen the people around me were happier then me, because I was aware that an internship is just the beginning. Mohammed: I applied for this position because the responsibilities are exactly what I am looking for. I have all the necessary qualifications, knowledge and skills needed for the position. Additionally, the work atmosphere in such an organisation as ESN will allow me to apply my innovation and creativity and to employ the skills I got from my studies and previous work and also to gain new knowledge. Margarida: I decided to apply for this position mainly because of the project. The requirements attracted me, the web project seemed really interesting and I truly believe it will make a difference. Obviously, I felt really happy when I found out I was chosen for the job.



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Margarida: I think this position will contribute to my future professional carrier in several ways. First, I’m sure I will become fluent in other European languages besides my own. Then the experience in a European network BY MAXENCE VIALLON will be really beneficial because it will allow me to gain more knowledge about projects and education policies at European level. Technically, in the respect to project management I think I will be able to work on my soft skills. Besides, regarding one of the main outputs of the project, an online platform to promote training mobility opportunities, I will be able to further develop my user experience and user interface skills. Last but not least, I think that the multicultural experience provided will be very enriching.

by Wilmer Mostacciuolo

The beginning of the year is the busiest period in the lives of many students. Hundreds of thousands of them all over Europe start their internship in some company, most of them in their homeland, many in their hometown. Some people choose another option, like going abroad! What is pushing these guys to cross the border, to challenge themselves with a foreign language, culture and people? Agnieszka, a student of Applied Linguistics at Warsaw University has no doubt: my internship in Italy was a valuable experience and now it is a strong point in my CV. She did her summer practise in Italian Philology in Palermo “to improve Italian language, visit Sicily and spend sunny holidays”, but only when she came back she realized she has gotten much more: experience in working in a young team, making good friends and even some important contacts for her future work. However, some students have doubts about the benefits of going abroad. Some think that they might not learn enough

professional skills if they studied abroad instead of doing an internship in their home country. Employers might see the situation from a different perspective: students who have been abroad are many times more marketable upon graduation. Of course, the area of study affects a lot on the matter whether it is more useful to go abroad or not. For instance, employers from engineering and technology fields could see an experience abroad as an advantege when recruiting new workers. In addition, going abroad is recommendable for students studying foreign languages and international business. A recent Financial Times poll indicates that the chances of finding a job after graduation will significantly improve if the student has completed a stage abroad. Nearly 2,000 Master of business graduates were interwieved in the survey. 72 percent of them had done an internship during their studies. The decision to do an internship is considered bold but useful.

between the students that did an internship and the students that didn’t. Even a year after graduation the unemployment rate was high among those who didn’t complete an internship. On the other hand 75 percent of the students that did an internship were employed wothin one month of graduating. The survey indicates that it is quite important to gain work experience during your studies as it helps your employment after graduation. Also, many of the surveyed said that it is a good way to experience different fields or industries. Besides gaining valuable work experience during an internship, you will improve your language skills, gain international contacts and start building networks. And of course, you will have loads of fun!

The survey also showed how it is easier for the students who had done an internship to change job or sector on graduation after the stage.

When people go abroad, they automatically become a lot more open socially. This results in the fact, that during your internship abroad you will meet dozens of new friends in just a few months! There are plenty of reasons to do your internship abroad and there is no point in reading them all in this article, so go find out yourself !

The most significant news in the article is the big difference in finding a job

Do you feel that you could an internship abroad? Then just apply for it!

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ESNSURVEY 2013 Creating Ideas, Opportunities and Identity

Creating Ideas, nd Identity Opportunities a urvey 2013

of the Research Report


Eleni Kalantzi, .), Jesús Escrivá, Julia Fellinger (ed aityte & Jurgita Stasiuk Karina Oborune Erasmus Student

Network AISBL,

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is the biggest students’ association in Europe and it is mainly supporting and developing student exchange in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). Not only do we support students at local level in host institutions or advice outgoing students in their origin HEI, but we also advocate for the general improvement of exchange programmes in Europe. The validity of our advocacy recalls the fact that it is always based on the opinions of more than 160,000 exchange students that we assist every year in our more than 430 HEI where we are present and whose opinion is collected in the ESNSurvey project, amongst other studies.

Brussels 2013

by Jesús Escrivá Muñoz and Stefan Jahnke 26 | express magazine • #18 Winter 2013/2014

Every year ESN launches a survey that explores the current issues connected to academic mobility. Throughout the last years the ESNSurvey became the biggest European wide Research project conducted solely by volunteers. In total more than 87.000 students have responded to our online questionnaires. Through the gathered opinions of students ESN gets a better insight into problems and added values in mobility and is able to represent the students' real needs. We believe that our work fosters mobility and improves the quality of exchange for young people in Europe and beyond. ESNSurvey 2013 is titled "Exchange: Creating Ideas, Opportunities and Identity". The focus of this year´s edition is to investigate the employability of mobile and non-mobile students and show the beneficial effects of going abroad. It also explores the impact of student mobility on entrepreneurship and European citizenship and gives insight into students´ satisfaction with ESN and other student organisations. Erasmus is considered to be the most successful programme in the European Union. In any case, figures speak for themselves. In our survey, on a scale ranging from 1 to 5, 14,745 exchange students rate satisfaction with their stay abroad 4.3 and their satisfaction with their studies abroad 3.9. This clearly emphasizes the fact that the period abroad provides exchange students with a richer experience than just their studies, which has been highlighted many times by ESN. In the current context of crisis, European labour market is not distributed accordingly to the human resources availability, which leads to high unemployment rates mainly amongst the youngest. The Erasmus Student Network considers exchange programs as an opportunity for higher education institutions’ students to get to know Europe and to feel more open to become mobile in the search for a desired job, thus reducing unemployment. In fact, the ESNSurvey 2013 proves that it is more likely for mobile students to live outside their home region than non-mobile students and to feel more secure when it comes to searching for jobs in languages other than their mother tongue or English. This is in line with ESNSurvey 2011 results which show that mobile students rate obstacles for labour mobility less important than their non-mobile peers. Networking is one of the key factors for graduated students. The world is constantly changing and opportunities are scarce. Therefore, the more extensive a person’s network is, the more probable it is to find the opportunity they were looking for. ESNSurvey 2013 also studies this issue as seen in the figure below: mobile and future mobile students make a wider usage of social networks. Moreover, since Facebook is the most used social network, the number of connections in this network was analysed resulting in a higher number of connection for students that have been on exchange already than the non-mobile group or the students who have not yet been on exchange but are planning to. Social attitudes connected to networking have also been studied and students who have been (or are planning to go) abroad are generally more engaged in social activities, open to meet new people and having a bigger circle of friends than those who are not planning to do so, which can also open new labour opportunities. Additionally the professional network LinkedIn is used more often by mobile students compared to their peer groups. This benefits mobile students in their transition into the labour market.

Figure 12 – Comparison of the use of social networks, according to respondents who have been abroad (n=14,029), are planning to go abroad (n=3,007) or are not planning to (n=1,415). Source: ESNSurvey 2013 Another way for graduated students to avoid unemployment is Entrepreneurship. According to our data, more than 50% of the young European surveyed could imagine starting up their own business. Exchange programs can be of great help for innovative ideas. More than 2% of respondents have introduced a product encountered during their stay abroad on their home countries’ markets and 22% are thinking of doing so while being aware that the lack of starting capital is still a big obstacle. Although employability is the central topic in our survey, according to the values of our organization, ESN endorses Europe as an area of peace and cultural exchange. This is the reason why we researched European Identity and Citizenship in our most recent publication. As expected mobile and future mobile students feel more cosmopolitan and European compared to non-mobile students and they are better informed and interested in politics within the European Union. This clearly certifies that Erasmus as the flagship of exchange opportunities is the key to build Europe, as many stakeholders have often claimed. Last but not least, all of our ESNSurvey editions also research the satisfaction level of exchange students with the services provided by student organizations. In line with the last editions, ESN has proven again to provide quality services which students have rated 4.1 over 5. Moreover, around 35% of the students that experienced the help of an ESN section are interested in volunteering and engaging in civil society after returning back home. As a conclusion, the Erasmus Student Network would like to remind all stakeholders of the importance of exchange programs also as a solution to improve the labor opportunities of our graduated students in Europe. On the one hand, national governments and EU decision makers should further raise awareness about the various opportunities for going abroad and adequate funding should be considered. Higher Education Institutions should also try to focus specifically on students who are less interested in international and European issues. Exchange programs in Europe, such as Erasmus, have been, are and must continue to be one of the key factors to educate our students in an always dynamic Europe.

BY MAXENCE VIALLO express magazine | 27

ESNers, meet your future!

by Jesús Escrivá Muñoz, Sara Panis, Stefan Jahnke


he Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a non-formal education provider which empowers its members with many valuable soft-skills. Some examples of the soft-skills ESN offers are: time management, personal networking, teamworking, flexibility and inter-cultural communication. ESN is mainly engaged and acknowledged in the International Education field and many ESNers are nowadays working in International Relations Offices, National Agencies or even in the European Commission. Members of the International Committee for Education (ICE) of ESN have interviewed ESN alumni who are employed in the International Education field thanks to their experiences from ESN. In the following paragraphs you’ll find out how ESN contributes to one’s career and labour-market opportunities.

Adriana Pérez Encinas Adriana Pérez Encinas, from Villafranca del Bierzo (León, Spain) is one of these fortunate persons. She has been living almost all her life in the great city of Madrid, where she enjoyed doing her Bachelor in Translation and Interpreting and a Master in International Relations within Latin America. Now she is 29 years old and works in an International Relations Office in Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She relates to ESN because she joined ESN herself in 2006 right after her Erasmus exchange in Winterthur (Switzerland). There she met great local people who joined a social network to help international students. “This social network was ESN. It was the first time I heard about it. Once I got to know more about ESN, I was astonished by its impact on my life and how much it brought into it.” When she came back to the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, she joined the local section ESN UAM as a member. After only a few months she became the local vice-president. Some months later she became the local president and occupied this position for a couple of years. She even hold the position of National Representative (NR) of ESN Spain and she remembers this part of her ESN career as fabulous. Due to a lack of money, she applied for an internship position in the International Relations Office where she worked for almost two years. Right before finishing her Bachelor´s degree she was completely overloaded with her final subjects, ESN and two jobs. Therefor she had to quit her job in the IRO although she loved it. The rest of the story is this: “When I was about to finish the final subject of my degree, I applied for a free position in the IRO where I had worked for. I was really lucky because of my previous experience there as an intern and my experience as president of ESN UAM which helped me a lot to get the job.” That is how she became the Head of the International Relations Office of the Faculty of Business and Economics at UAM with only 22 years old! She admits that it was hard at the beginning to have so much responsibility, but the soft-skills she developed in ESN helped her a lot. Team-working, organization of events and trips, management, problem-solving and inter-cultural learning are the ESN skills she values the most. “Any advice? Work hard to get where you want to stay. You can reach anything you want with effort and passion and if you put much passion in the things you believe and want it will for sure help you in the future!”


Daphne Scherer Daphne Scherer from Genova, Italy is another example of how ESN experience contributes to a certain career. She is 28 years old and has a Bachelor Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Genova in Italy and a Master of Arts in Culture, Communication and Globalization from the University of Aalborg in Denmark. Her first study abroad experience was in 2003 when she joined a high-school cultural exchange programme in the US for one semester. After coming back to Italy, she looked for an international environment where she could meet people from all over the world, speak foreign languages, learn about different cultures and open her mind to the world. Therefor she joined the local section of GEG-ESN Genova before even enrolling at the university! She was involved for three years at the local level, where she used ESN as an opportunity to practice her foreign language skills while studying these at the University at the same time. She was in charge of the Tandem project and organised language cafés. She was also the section’s Vice-President. She then moved to Denmark for her Master's degree, where she joined ESN Denmark. From Denmark she moved to Paris for her European Voluntary Service. At the same time, she got more and more involved in ESN, first through the PRIME project 2009 and the preparations of the 2010 edition, then as NR of Italy and ViceChair of the new-born ICE Committee in 2010. Thanks to ESN, she also attended BEST II in Bulgaria and was involved in setting up the Eduk8 project. Thanks to her experiences in ESN and especially to her previous involvement in the PRIME project in October 2011, she started working at the European Commission in DG Education and Culture Unit C.1 – Higher Education: Modernisation Agenda; Erasmus. She feels extremely lucky to be working in higher education policy as well as managing the Erasmus programme as a former ESN volunteer. “This has always been my dream job and ESN gave me the opportunity to seize it!” “Follow your dreams and your passions, and you will get wherever you want. Your work in ESN will surely turn out to be the best onthe-field experience in your CV. But please remember that first you are a student, and then a volunteer. So don't neglect your studies: they will be equally helpful in getting to your dream job.”

Damien Lamy-Preto The next person benefitting from his ESN experience is Damien Lamy-Preto who is working for EF Education First in France as a Business Developer. He has been involved in ESN as volunteer during four years as section member, section president of ESN Nancy, national Treasurer of ESN France and Treasurer in the International Board (IB) of ESN. Thanks to ESN he had the opportunity to completely change his career. He studied Architecture up to Master 2 and after his Erasmus exchange he decided to join ESN complementary to his study and work in Architecture. As he experienced it, ESN gave him a chance to develop his Entrepreneurship spirit. As he says: “In ESN nothing is impossible. The work fields of ESN are really broad: Education, Management, Finances, IT and so on. I found a real possibility to grow personally and professionally and thanks to the size of the Network this was a long and fruitful adventure.” As he claims, developing himself was only possible due to his love for the mission, vision and the aim of ESN. He invested a lot of himself as volunteer in ESN because of his true believe in the greatness of ESN. Still he is convinced that all together, ESN can always do better. He experienced that his involvement in the Network gave him its trust in exchange of his work which allowed him to always learn more by working in and for the association. Damian compares his choice with other students who choose to do a MBA to change or enhance their career. He chose ESN and as a result he changed his career with, from his point of view, a quite successful story. With the ESN Network he had the chance to work with many people from different companies and institutions. He was able to build relationships and an own Network through ESN. He would have never met EF without ESN and he is convinced that he would not have had the opportunities to do and learn things at the level he did.

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He is now working in a great company which recognizes his work in ESN. He moved from Architecture to a totally different field of work. He developed many skills as for example: finances, languages, education, management, leadership. He even mentions skills in friendship that according to him will make his future nicer and easier. “What you are doing today might not seems really important to you, but you are learning a lot by doing and developing competences that will be helpful in your future. It is not because you are working in ESN that companies will employ you, but it is thanks to what you will do for and in ESN that you have many opportunities in the future. I never thought by using ESN to develop myself that things just came up naturally thinking I can and want to do always more in the Network, so let’s do it.”

Eero Loonurm The final interview to find out the value of being involved in ESN was with Eero Loonurm from Tallinn. He has held different positions in the Network. He started on local level after his Erasmus exchange n 2004/2005 in Granada, Spain. He decided that it would be an excellent investment to dedicate his time to help the incoming students in his home town. He has been a local board member, a local President and a NR. On local level he started to build up and develop a system to make the life of future ESNers and international students easier: standardizing the activities by systematic events for international students, contracts with the universities, cooperation and partnerships with NGOs and private companies. He is really glad that he could learn from the other ESN sections through the

success stories published by ESN. After a year of being a local president he noticed that they themselves could already share their own success stories and help other sections from their experiences. On international level he helped with the organization of the North European Platforms (NEPs) in Estonia, the PRIME conferences in Estonia, Finland and Sweden and gave workshops during an AGM and NEP. He is really glad that ESN has given him all these opportunities to do all of these things. Since 2009 he works in one of the biggest state foundations in Estonia, the Archimedes Foundation. This foundation carries out the politics and policies of the ministry of education and research. The first three years he worked in the department of Estonia's international education marketing. Now for almost a year he is the head of communication, which means that he will deal with the Estonian education issues. The main question is, how ESN helped him to get to his current position. He says: “ESN gave me everything, all the skills to run meetings, to develop and improve the organization, marketing and communication skills, to think big, and to support colleagues. ESN also gave me a mentality that everything is possible.” From his ESN experience Eero is convinced that ESN can give you everything you need: you can help other students, you can restructure and develop your section and national board and you can even contribute to the development of ESN in Europe. You can start partnerships with almost every organization. However in order to do so you do need to find the mutual cooperation points. “Take the maximum of ESN - it has so much to give. And please also teach ESN - ESN can only be strong if we give something back to the organization. I am always available for the future ESN generations - should you have any kind of questions, please let me know!”

Conclusion These interviews show that ESN is a network where its members can develop their soft-skills which are relevant to prepare for the labour market. ESN offers a lot of opportunities to get familiar with the European education context, International environment, finance, IT, team-working skills and much more. These four people are examples of how their careers are shaped by their experiences in ESN and how it created opportunities for them. Their positions differ from working in an International Office, in the European Commission, Education First (EF) and the Archimedes Foundation in Estonia. This shows that everybody can develop themselves the way they want to with ESN to set out their own career path. ESN is a network where through informal education our members obtain a foundation for their future, whatever future they reach for.

activities have been developed.


TWIN SECTIONS by EugĂŠnia Costa & Raquel Teixeira

Cooperation between sections from different countries has evolved rapidly, and now presents itself as an important vehicle to optimize cultural exchange. ESN Porto, ESN Vigo and ESN Santiago de Compostela are an active example of this cooperation. Throughout the academic year of 2012/2013, a closer bond was formed between the sections from Portugal and Spain. In September 2012, a trip to Tui, sponsored by the European Commission, lit the fuse of this connection. Since then, a lot of

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Trips are the core element of this cooperation. After the first one to Tui, other trips were orgnised in Vigo and Pontevedra, Porto and Santiago de Compostela. For a year, the programs of the activities were developed and the spirit of mutual aid has become increasingly favoured. In each city, active members of the local ESN section were available to show their city and provide a richer local experience to Erasmus from other countries. From guided tours to parties and traditional food, the most characteristic features of each city were presented. In addition to providing assistance at the time of each trip, the ESN section had to take care of logistical issues such as housing, beforehand. The development of cooperation between sections to create activities is undoubtedly a stimulus to the desire to explore these relationships. Besides being good for the members of different ESNs, since they share ways of functioning, experiences, start friendships and establish contacts, it is also enriching to all Erasmus participating in these activities across borders. There is no greater source of sharing and multiculturalism than the Erasmus experience. The concept of "twin-sections", that seeks to provide that experience of working together, enriches this source as inexhaustible as we so desire.



Youth Guarantee

A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Youth Unemployment in Europe? by Ilja Celine Postel 32 | express magazine • #18 Winter 2013/2014

For the past few years, youth unemployment has been on the rise in Europe and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed. Before the crisis in 2008, youth unemployment was around twice times as high as the overall unemployment. The most recent economic crisis, however, hit the European working youth harder, causing the gap between youth unemployment and overall unemployment to increase to a difference of 2.6%. But how do we tackle this problem in a continent as diverse as Europe, where youth unemployment rates differ from 7.7% (in Germany) to a whopping 59.2% (in Greece)? According to André, a former European Commissioner, the answer is not in an approach focusing on the individual member states: “We have not enough of Europe. We live in a world of six billion people – what can a country, even like Germany or the UK, mean in that world?” He continues: “we have 27 member states trying to work things out on their own instead of cooperating. We have to work together to get to a solution. People blame the European Commission for taking austerity measures instead of blaming their own governments; not knowing that the

commission only proposes and it’s actually them – i.e. the citizens - that decide and take action.” Thomas, the coordinator of YOFEST! (a festival for the European youth that took place last May in Brussels), stresses the importance of youth participation in the EU. “The youth in Europe needs to be more visible because there’s less and less money for young people. We want to advocate for them and give them the opportunity to go on exchange”, he explains. “The austerity is hitting young people pretty hard. The European Youth Forum trys to amplify the voice of young people since a lot is happening backstage and does not reach the greater public. It’s not about going to conferences and talk to the same people all the time but also to really speak up to the media.” Of course, in a Union which lacks youth participation, it’s hard to find a solution that pleases both the political leaders and the jobless young citizens. The EU has been working hard on measures to tackle the rising youth unemployment. It launched a ‘Youth Unemployment Package’ that features the ‘Youth Guarantee’: the promise that every European youngster up to the age of 25

will get a quality job offer, an educational opportunity or a traineeship. A big measure but, owing to Angela Merkel, the youth unemployment is Europe’s “most pressing problem” and it bears the risk of creating a “lost generation” if nobody takes action. According to the Economist, we should be skeptical towards the offered solutions: “They suffer from the same flaws that have plagued the European Union’s response to crises over the past three years: a lack of boldness, an incomplete analysis of the problem and an excessive faith in copying German policies.” The Youth Guarantee does not only sound promising, it has also harvested some success already. In Finland in 2011, 83.5% of the job seekers got an offer within three months. But will the success in Finland extend to elsewhere in Europe, especially the southern countries? Besides the obvious problematic features of the Guarantee, there are also more subtle issues such as the focus on mobility. Serious language barriers should be taken into account and tackled as the reality still is that, in most countries, it is essential to speak the local language to build up a lasting career.

Easy ride sharing





“Perfect for me because even when I decide to travel at the last minute, the prices are amazingly low. Best idea ever.“

“The real secret to making the most of your exchange. I met lovely local people and travelled everywhere, on a tiny, tiny budget.“

Kamil, Exchange to Marseille University, France

Ana, Exchange to Kings College, London, UK

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.