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MUNPlanet: Milena, looking in hindsight, what would be the greatest lessons and inspiration you drew from being involved in organizing an MUN several years ago?
Milena: In 2010 I studied English Language and Literature as my major in Belgrade and a colleague suggested we apply for BIMUN Conference; it was a chance to practice our diplomatic English skills, to engage in the UN proceedings and to prepare an international relations research. From log-in to the website to submitting an application and being assigned my country, the MUN organizers showed the remarkable level of professionalism. Also, preparing for UNESCO committee and the actual conference were one of the most intense learning experiences because it was about showing, not telling. That is why I would advise MUNPlanet readers and all young people to try and find projects where they can implement and showcase what they read about or prepare. We truly remember and learn only those matters that we experienced or created.
MUNPlanet: You went on to do a Bundestag internship in Germany, and later on studied at Cambridge. In what ways your MUN experience connects education and career development with leadership?
MUN experience was for me beyond a recommendation letter and a CV bullet point, although those references certainly helped me to stand out in comparison to other candidates applying for career opportunities in Germany and the UK. That is why I perceive MUN experience to be a real learning curve, a path of several years where my ‘‘dots got connected’’ to quote Steve Jobs. And now after being MUN Alumna, so to speak, I feel at peace about all student decisions I made: the opportunities I accepted and the ones I did not. Isn’t it amazing that attending one conference can lead to meeting so many fantastic people who act as drivers for change; who sincerely care about solving global problems and from whom you can learn a lot: via social media, Skype, or this platform?
The major challenges for young people today are unemployment and feeling that university education becomes obsolete, if it leads to the degree per se and the aforementioned 21st-century skills were not obtained. Many young people have taken the bull by the horns and harness the power of technology to learn from each other about developing their communities and starting their own business. Feeling that you are not alone, that many people made it and that you can control your own destiny regardless of politics in your region is what pushes young people to overcome those challenges.
The great thing about One Young World if you actually go to the conference is that you meet the MUN type of people and over several days you intensely experience the magnitude of stories, leadership ideas and a world-class city. And when you come back home, this overwhelming feeling sinks in, you have some rest and then you say, ‘‘Let’s create here what I heard about there.’’ Even if you do not go to OYW Summit, you may connect with global leaders via Twitter, Facebook and Live Streaming of events. Throughout the year the important UN and international dates are marked and many OYW people endorse what we do at MUNPlanet. The next OYW Summit is in Dublin 16-19 October and our MUNPlanet readers can expect a fantastic live coverage.
Milena: Instead of NGOs I would go for Foundations that support education or for social businesses which solve particular problems in communities or globally. To my mind, NGOs too often focus on policy papers and strategies instead of improving things in practice. Startups are my preferred ecosystems as perseverance helps you to go through sink-or-swim times and to thrive every day. Big companies offer stability and can be a great career choice if you want to climb the corporate ladder and do not experience excessive hierarchy.
Milena: When you reach out to such global leaders, you realize that the most successful experts are the most down-to-earth people. Every sentence they say motivates and every gesture of theirs radiates professionalism. Such interviews strengthen my confidence of a young entrepreneur and writer to harbor the same attitude at this stage of my career and through the rest of my life. Also, one of the greatest advantages of MUNPlanet as our global platform is that we can curate the tacit knowledge that such people built up and we can globally exchange our expertise while projecting the same values of approachability, impactful leadership and well-chosen words.
MUNPlanet: What would be your message to MUNers?
Milena: One of my favourite quotes is, ‘‘You live only once, but if you do it right, once is enough.’’ Therefore, life is too short to do something you detest and to be surrounded by people who do not make you grow. If there is something you are dissatisfied with in your life, while you try to change it (instead of complaining), think why this problem is a good thing and what lesson you might get out of it. And finally, your day was not the successful one if before you get to sleep you cannot write in your journal five things that happened to you on that day for which you are grateful. Smile, love, exercise, travel, research, motivate. And you will be eternally young.