From yoga trainer to Youth UnEmployment: Magdalena Pawłowska is one of the most versatile AEGEE members. The AEGEE member and Social Psychology graduate from Lublin is currently managing this year’s main project. Les Anciens supported a coordination team meeting of this project from its Continuity Fund. Magdalena Pawlowska told the Golden Oldie what makes this project important for AEGEE.

Golden Oldie: You are coordinator of this year’s main project Youth UnEmployment. Can you briefly explain what the project is about?

Magdalena Pawlowska: AEGEE launched the project under the framework of the Youth Employment Action Consortium powered by European Youth Forum. Youth UnEmployment aims to help young people aged between 18 and 30 to increase their employability. It has been widely acknowledged that young people have been disproportionately affected by the crisis and that the transition from education to labour market is malfunctioning. AEGEE proposes measures offering comprehensive solutions and linking them to tools that have been already put forward by the Youth UnEmployment project.

Golden Oldie: Of what kind of activities does it consist?

Magdalena Pawlowska: The project consists of three main actions under which smaller events take place in the whole Europe. The actions are: The Employment Action Day, The European School of Entrepreneurship, and The Youth for Employment. For details, check our website: www.aegee.orgyue.

Golden Oldie: How many locals are participating?

Magdalena Pawlowska: We have support of tens of AEGEE antennae, and thirteen of them take an active part in the project by organizing events.

Golden Oldie: What’s the current status of the project?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Our first action was a survey available in the Internet from the middle of September till the end of November 2010. The purpose of the survey was to collect information about young people’s knowledge of youth unemployment, experience and awareness of the topic, as well as on youth entrepreneurship. Over 600 young people from different European counties have responded. The results are going to be published in March 2011.

Golden Oldie: When will the first activities take place?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Currently we are organizing events in Europe under the name of Employment Action Day (EAD). The goal of this action is to increase recognition of non-formal education and voluntary work as working experience by enhancing skills and awareness of youngsters in four main areas: self-employment/entrepreneurship, social media as a tool to earn money and find a job, definition of voluntary work and its value for a volunteer, things young person should know about getting a job. EAD takes place in 11 cities: Sofia, Tirana, Gdansk, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Moscow, Lublin, Barcelona, Yerevan, Skopje, Izmir and Riga. A timetable is available on the project website.

Golden Oldie: And that will be followed by the second main action?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Then we have one forthcoming action, The European School of Entrepreneurship (ESE), which aims at empowering youth to set up their own enterprises. We strongly believe that ESE will change life of the participants and will influence their regions in a small but positive way. ESE is going to take place in Catania, from 30th May till 5th June 2011.  For autumn we plan to have three events under the name of Youth for Employment, but that are still in the planning process so we will provide more details soon. For now I can say one of these events will close the first cycle of Youth UnEmployment Project.

Golden Oldie: First cycle? The project will be repeated again in the future?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Yes, I said “the first cycle” as we plan to make some of our actions regular in AEGEE calendar.

Golden Oldie: Before you did the project, what did you do in AEGEE?

Magdalena Pawlowska: I joined AEGEE in January 2009, so I have been a member for two years now. Before the YuE project I was active on local level. I coordinated the European Day of Languages in Lublin; I was a team member of several events, and also a trainer. What is more, I was encouraged by my AEGEE friends to lead Yoga sessions in Lublin – we were meeting every Saturday for over seven months so our members could stay in a good shape.

Golden Oldie: How did you become project coordinator?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Well, we had been working on the YuE Project for six months before the positions were selected. I applied for the position and got promoted by the then Project Director of AEGEE-Europe.

Golden Oldie: What do you find fascinating about the topic?

Magdalena Pawlowska: The most fascinating thing about that topic is that small things – a well written CV, proper self-esteem, to know how to search for a job among others – can change the life of an individual. Youth has great potential and this project is about helping them to find the right way to get to labour market and be satisfied with work.

Golden Oldie: Did you have previous experience with this topic?

Magdalena Pawlowska: The employment topic itself is well known for me as I wrote my master thesis on it. During my university years I took many classes on work and industry psychology. Moreover I took internship in a human resources department.

Golden Oldie: What do you want to reach with this project?

Magdalena Pawlowska: I would like to increase young people’s awareness of their potential and possibilities on the labour market. By the project I would like to raise recognition of voluntary work as working experience and knowledge about employment opportunities. Personally I hope to empower young people to set up enterprises. In my opinion being entrepreneur nowadays is a great option for youth as they are highly educated, ambitious, and work focused.

Golden Oldie: And are you optimistic to reach the aims?

Magdalena Pawlowska: I am optimistic to reach these aims as we work hard as a team. I believe the YuE project has great perspectives. I would be fully satisfied if one person after The European School of Entrepreneurship or any other our action wrote an e-mail to me or while talking to me said that the project encouraged him or her to set up an own business.

Golden Oldie: How will you evaluate the project’s success?

Magdalena Pawlowska: I am going to estimate the results by two criteria: realised actions and number of visits on our website and the Facebook fan page. For the first criteria I will use the YuE actions’ timetable for 2011. If we successfully organise all events, I will be able to say we fulfil our obligations as AEGEE-Europe project. The second criteria is a typical statistic analysis, I expect a constant grow of website visitors and fans on Facebook.

Golden Oldie: Such a project is a big personal challenge. What are the best and the hardest part about coordinating this project?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Life without challenges won’t give me satisfaction. I have always set high goals for myself because I believe there is nothing we cannot achieve. The hardest part about coordinating this project is the geographical distance between team members. I believe a harmonious team is the key to a project’s success; it would be easier to cooperate if we could meet often in reality. Being a project manager has much more benefits for example: meeting new people, personal development, satisfaction, and travelling.

Golden Oldie: You finished already your studies of psychology and philosophy and work in newspaper marketing. How do you find the time for the project next to your job?

Magdalena Pawlowska (smiling): I have an uncomfortable bed so I don’t sleep much. But for real, during university period I learned how to unite several roles at once; there was a time when I studied full time two majors at different universities, was active in students’ organizations, had a social life and regular trainings. Nowadays it is a bit more difficult as the responsibilities I have now have wider consequences. In many ways YuE Project allows me to realise myself, my hobbies and dreams. I have always wanted to work in a multicultural environment, help people to develop themselves, build opportunities for better life of individuals. The work and effort I put into the project are rewarding. The only thing I wish I could do this year but won’t be able because the lack of time is snowboarding but I will go next year twice then.

Golden Oldie: So you have a strong social life also outside of AEGEE?

Magdalena Pawlowska: I have joined AEGEE pretty late so I had already strong friendships with non-AEGEEans. However nowadays as being a Project Manager requires lots of time I mainly stay in contact with people from AEGEE. But what may be interesting: my life partner is not AEGEE member, so the balance is maintained.

Golden Oldie: Would you do something different if you had to start the project again?

Magdalena Pawlowska: Well, with the knowledge I had back then I think I did my best in any case, the same as the rest of the team. If I could start again with the experience I have now – yes, I would change some moves. But I am happy with the point we have achieved as a team and the YuE project. I look forward to our actions and buzz we plan do to in the network and outside.