Three years ago I was part of AIESEC – the world’s largest non-profit youth-run organization. An organization that provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe.
Here I was, 23 years old, naive, insecure and nervous sitting at my first national conference in Aalborg and listening to different presentations about leadership, world problems and traveling.
There was one presentation that got stuck in my head and it was from Education First (EF). He presented the EF concept and what it takes to become part of EF. I was amazed and at the same time I was thinking to myself “How do you do it? I will never be able to be part of something like that. It takes a lot”. Later on by the dinner table I got a chance to sit next to him. We ended up talking and he suggested that I could write my Master´s Thesis about them and use EF as a case. As scared I was back then I took his information, but never wrote to him. Stupid I know!
After a year in AIESEC as Vice President of Talent Management (HR) everything changed.
Well, before AIESEC I didn’t have any experience whatsoever and I have never traveled away for longer than 3 weeks. Being in my Irina bubble where school was on the first place was much more important to me. Until one of my best friends Marina together with her rational thinking convinced me to apply for the HR position in AIESEC. I guess sometimes your friends know you better than you know yourself. She knew I needed it to get out of my comfortable, cozy Irina bubble. With her support I applied, got through the interview and joined the Executive Board 2014/2015 (my team on the picture).
Throughout my year in AIESEC I gained confidence, learned how to lead a team, speak in public, work in different teams and work with people with different backgrounds. They all had beautiful stories to tell, because they’ve travelled around the world. I was so inspired that I two years later decided to contact EF: Cultural Care about their au pair program. Shortly after I spoke to them, I applied to become an au pair in USA. Before I knew it I was on my way to Rochester, New York.
A year later I became one of the people who have stories to share and inspire others to not be afraid and just do it. In life you really do get what you have the courage to ask for. If you can dream it, you can do it. It sounds like the biggest cliché. But it is true, if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will do that for you. So why is this story important for my Oxford experience? Because if I didn’t believe I could I wouldn’t have become a course leader. When I returned home from my au pair year I decided to contact EF (I know finally, after 3 years lol) to ask what opportunities there were. My sweet boss Christine Vu responded and encouraged me to apply for the summer position as their course leader.
Without being 100% sure what I was going into I created a video and applied. The day after she send me an e-mail saying that she liked my background and that she will contact me as soon as she can because they were very busy. After I called them couple of times (I know, super annoying) and wrote to them, she finally invited me for an interview. As nervous as I was I got through the interview and she asked me to join! She believed I could do it. It was a dream come true! Maybe I was scared three years ago, but I managed to do it three years later. Looking back, I now understand why it all happened the way it did.