“A Junior Enterprise is run only by students.. there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems”

Bienkowska 2018 JADE_

Elżbieta Bieńkowska at the podium. © European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service.

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Alex Lanaro, the Treasurer of JADE – European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE).

I can undoubtedly say that Junior Enterprises changed my life.

I started my journey in the network back in May 2016, and my greatest fear was the common one: “Will I have time to study?”. It is funny that, once you start, it is just impossible to take a step back. You are surrounded by astonishing people, motivated, passionate in what they do, always willing to help you and to give their best for the association. It is just impossible to not be infected. Since the very beginning, I have always given my 100% to the network, starting with JEst, a Junior Enterprise based in Vicenza, Italy.

I was in the Marketing and Communication department and I developed my first hard skill after just two weeks since I joined: we needed a designer, but we did not have enough budget to afford it. There was only one possible solution: one of us had to learn how to use design software. After a month of tutorial and hours on my computer, I developed a skill that I can now use for the rest of my life. This really surprised me, you can learn so much in such a short amount of time, only by putting in what you do that little extra effort.

That is when I decide to take the big step.

After six months, I became Head of Marketing and Communication, managing a team of twelve people. At the beginning I was really scared. I had almost zero experience and I was managing people older than me. But this is the Junior Enterprise world: learning by doing. After a while, I was feeling confident about my skills and my competencies, but at the same time, I also felt that I was not giving enough. I wanted to have a bigger impact, on a larger number of Junior Entrepreneurs.

I then decided to become the Treasurer of my national confederation, JADE Italia. So far, this decision that let the greatest year of my life begin, even though it was a tough one.

On one hand I had my life: my work, my studies, my social life and my family, things that required time.

On the other hand, I had the opportunity to represent over 600 Italian Junior Entrepreneurs and to work for them for a whole year.

That was the moment I decided to listen to the Junior Entrepreneur inside of me, and let myself be driven by the motivation and passion, and I took the role.

When you join a national confederation, your world changes. You have new different kind of challenges, that nobody is prepared to face. But you do what all Junior Entrepreneurs do, you learn by doing, and that is what I did. I developed a new set of skills that I knew would have surely helped me in my future, both professionally and personally.

As a Junior Entrepreneur, you develop soft skills such as teamwork and communication skills, as almost every project you deliver is a group project, you not only learn how to work as a team, but also how to divide the workload and how to coordinate with the rest of the team. Another undebatable skill is leadership. If you are willing to try and put in the right effort, it is easy to become the project manager of a small or medium project, with a team and resources to manage. You will soon start to trust people and to delegate, to teach them how to deliver tasks properly and especially how to check if everybody is aligned with the final goal and is delivering to expectations. Nowadays, another crucial skill is problem solving. A Junior Enterprise is run only by students of higher education, there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems, everything is up to you and your team.

But there is something even more important than skills, that is motivation. From Portugal to Sweden, from Italy to Romania, I would say that motivation is what it is shared by every Junior Entrepreneur, what drives us while delivering projects and bring  passion to what we do.

As a member of the Executive Board of a confederation, you learn how to maintain a wider vision,  as you have to keep in mind the big picture of your network and not just the reality of one single Junior Enterprise. Everything you do has a bigger impact.

But again, the Junior Entrepreneur spirit inside me arose. I felt that even there my magnitude was not big enough, my ambitions were not being satisfied yet. That is when I choose to join JADE, the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises.

My expectations for this year are high, on one hand I want to connect even more Junior Entrepreneurs from all around Europe, both with JADE and with each other. I want to promote the “Together we grow” value among Junior Entrepreneurs, enhancing the exchange of best practices and remembering the value they can have by integrating with the European network. Lastly, I want to spread the concept of the Junior Enterprise experience among Businesses and private companies, to show that hiring a Junior Entrepreneur can really bring added-value to a firm.

On the other hand, I also have personal expectations: learning is not an act, it is an endless process. I want to improve myself both personally and professionally, improve my weak points and reinforce my strengths. A full new set of challenges is waiting for me and my team, and we know we will accomplish great things.

To conclude, if I had to summarize the Junior Enterprise network, and the Junior Entrepreneur DNA in a world, there is just one right answer: Passion. Passion in what we do, passion to learn, passion to develop skills and passion to grow together, to belong to a network of more than 28.000 Junior Entrepreneurs in 15 different European countries who share the same values and the same goals.

I am proud to be a Junior Entrepreneur, I am proud to belong to our European Network and I just cannot wait to start to generate impact, my impact.

About the author

Alex Lanaro is the Treasurer of JADE – the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises. He is in charge of managing the relationships with the private sector, creating and supervising the communication and ensuring a correct finance management.

Alex has a bachelor’s degree in management engineering from the University of Padua (Italy), currently finishing his master’s degree for the same course. He was Head of Marketing and Communication of his Junior Enterprise, JEst and Treasurer of JADE Italia – being responsible for enlarging the Junior Enterprise Network in Italy and managing the finance department.

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