My third and final story about this journey within the EYE program is a bittersweet moment because it symbolizes both the ultimate achievement of my entrepreneurial development goals but simultaneously the time to say goodbye to a wonderful experience.
After spending 6 months with my host organization, Embaixada da Juventude in Paredes – Portugal, from mid-October of 2020 to mid-April of 2021, I came to call it “my 3 Gs experience”.
This title occurred to me because I feel that the words that can better represent it are: Growth, as in learning and becoming more confident as a future entrepreneur; Gratitude, for the possibility to undergo such an event, especially to my host organization for all the opportunities and guidance; and Gateway, as an important step to professional development and success.
I started out a bit shy and insecure, but the people at Embaixada da Juventude quickly made me feel like part of the team, including me through non-formal learning activities and learning by doing techniques, which I now consider really effective. The work environment was always informal without a rigid hierarchical structure, allowing for constant dialogue and quick mitigation of any problems, and that to me was different in a good way from previous work environments.
In the beginning, I was hopeful to learn important skills for an entrepreneurial endeavor but fearful of not getting the most of the experience because of covid-19 pandemic restrictions. Now, I realize that maybe I might have really missed out in terms of the exciting socialization that happens in international exchanges, but not regarding the knowledge and skills development I needed to come closer to actually implementing my project.
I learned a lot about social innovation, project designing and planning, funding and financial execution, general management, and networking. I got the chance to better and complete my venture idea, through much collaboration and feedback. While also adding value to my host organization by actively contributing with my own ideas. And the end result of this made me really proud because an actual new local project for the Paredes community was born and a possible added service for my social business is now on the horizon.
Furthermore, brand new ideas and possibilities for future collaborations with my HE have come out of this already very enriching exchange experience. And so, considering all I gained personally and professionally, I would definitely recommend the EYE adventure to other Young Entrepreneurs.