In this interview, Klaudia Szabelka — a Glasgow University student of Politics and Economy — talks about her project, European Congress of Youth in Business, which took place on 25 January in Poland.
Tell me about European Congress of Youth in Business. What is it?
European Congress of Youth in Business is an answer to the growing demand for business events, particularly in Poland. It took place on 25 January at Inkubator Starter in Gdansk, where young people took part in a series of lectures and seminars given by other people their age, who have already started their own business ideas or organisations.
How did you come up with the idea for such an event?
Last summer I participated in Gdansk Business Week, an event during which a group of young people simulate a working environment in order to improve their understanding of what it means to work at a big firm or a startup. It was during this event that I realised we need to create more opportunities for young people to expand their knowledge of and interest in business. The problem, I think, is that students in Poland, and probably some other European countries, are not taught Business in school and thus they lack some basic skills necessary for landing a job, eg how to write CVs, how to behave at work, etc. And they are expected to know this as soon as they graduate. Sure, they can google all these questions and get answers within seconds. However, this is the kind of knowledge that school should be providing them with. That’s why we need more of these business events.
Who were the speakers presenting at your event?
Our event was intended to provide youth with a complete set of knowledge about business. For this reason, our guests were other young people who have already undertaken some steps towards developing their own businesses or ideas. The conference combined a series of lectures, seminars, discussion panels and a networking event. The last one took place at Olivia Business Center Olivia Star, the highest skyscraper in the north of Poland, on the 32nd floor. It gave our participants a chance to talk to other like-minded people and maybe even get on with their own ideas. Apart from this, we held a variety of panels, such as Startup Panel Discussion led by Zahin Rohan Razeen, who is also a student at the University of Glasgow. We also had lectures given by Agnieszka Wojcik, UN Youth Delegate, and Emil Bender Lassen, from Project Access.
Who are the people behind the project?
Our team has changed a lot since the first time we started discussing the idea for European Congress of Youth in Business. Due to other obligations some people had to drop out. Now it is just me — founder and Project Manager of the event — and Lukasz Wicki — Deputy Project Manager. Lukasz and I met about four years ago during Gdynia Business Week and after all these years we know each other so well that working together is really simple — if there is something I don’t like or I don’t know how to do, he takes care of it and vice versa. Even though it was a one-day event, organising this conference was extremely time-consuming. It has practically been a full-time job; with university on top of it, it has been a real challenge. But I think Lukasz and I have done pretty well, even with that amount of work. Hopefully, next year we’ll be able to expand our team, which will take some pressure off of us.
What do you hope to achieve with this initiative?
Our main target is to improve business education in Europe and to encourage young people to take the first steps into the world of business. We also want to show them that they do not have to settle and work for companies they don’t particularly like. Instead, they can think about starting their own firms and startups. With UN Sustainable Development Goals in mind, we want to teach people how they can include these goals in their work, that business does not have to be about exploiting people; that’s why a lot of people who will be presenting at our events work with these goals in mind.
How do you see the future of the project?
I know this is only our first edition of the European Congress of Youth in Business but I already have some ideas for the future. I hope to add some new people to our team next year, yes, but I was also thinking about expanding our organisation, for example by creating sub-divisions of our organisation and having ambassadors of our brand stationed across Europe. We could also try and organise some of the future conferences in different locations and not just Gdansk.