ZSEM students stand side by side with the best European students

Our students, Lucia Kulušić, President of NEXT Junior Enterprise, and Lovorka Đurđević, Next’s International Manager, participated in the JADE Spring Conference in Brussels. Lucia told us firsthand what it was like to attend an event deciding the future of Europe’s largest business development organization.

What exactly is JADE?

JADE (Junior Association for Development in Europe) is an umbrella organization bringing together more than 330 Junior Enterprises in Europe, including NEXT. JADE members are present in 15 European countries and include 27,000 prospective students. As a member and president of Next Junior Enterprise, I was drawn to JADE’s impressive figures, and my colleague Djurdjevic is in constant communication with JADE’s International Manager, Diogo Parreir Carriç. However, I felt a real connection with all the young entrepreneurs who are members of this respectable community after the JADE Spring Conference. I am looking forward to the JADE May Conference that I am going to with my colleague Nikolina Jurjevic. Lucia Kulušić and Lovorka Đurđević with the JADE Presidency – Isabella Florio, Vice-President; Diogo Parreira Carriço, Secretary General; Alex Lanaro, Treasurer; David Gomes, President – and Shivam Jariwal, President of Junior Enterprise USA.

How did you decide to join Next?

In the first days of teaching at ZSEM, Barbara Lichtberger, last year’s president and Filip Bilic, last year’s international manager, gave us a presentation on Next on the recruitment of new members to the association. The presentation was interesting and the recruitment challenging, which is why I decided to apply for membership in Next.

You say recruiting has been a challenge for you. Can you describe what it looks like?

So far, I have only encountered recruits who needed to send a CV and cover letter, so recruiting for Next was interesting to me. After submitting my CV and motivation letter, I received information about the place and time of the presentation on Next. It was a more detailed presentation from the one I heard in class. After the presentation we had an online quiz about Next and we got information on the place and time writing test. The test was in English and consisted of various problem tasks. A few days after writing the test I had the very conversation where they tested my motivation and gave it to me feedback on my test. The most challenging part was we are the sales pitch – we needed to call a potential client, introduce him to Next and make an appointment with him. Recruitment was also my first business experience in Next, from writing and sending CVs and cover letters, through testing and interviews to signing a Next Membership Agreement. The next recruiting will be on Student Future Day, which takes place on April 9, and I would recommend it to any ZSEM student. I should also mention that working at Next is recognized as a professional practice.

How is Next preparing you for your career?

I would freely say that everything we do at Next is career preparation. The recruiting mentioned above, where you participate once as a candidate and the next time you are on the other side, you need to organize and implement it; sale of our services, approaching potential clients to Croatia unfamiliar concept, bidding, negotiation of service prices, project implementation, post-project analysis, collection of receivables, communication with accounting, meeting management – we all do this in Next.

How does it feel to attend something like this? What is it like to be responsible for representing your country through the JADE conference?

It was really fantastic to attend this conference. The first day was followed by a grand opening, with some of the speakers being José Manuel Fernandes, MEP, and Rodrigo Ballester, MEP. However, during the opening, the strongest impression was given to me by the presentations of the Excellence Awards finalists, an award given in five categories throughout JADE (Most Socially Responsible Project, Most Innovative Project, Most Promising JE, Most International JE, Most Entrepreneurial JE, JE of the Year). This was followed by two days of general assembly at which Lovorka and I represented Croatia. We participated in JADE’s decisions regarding rebranding, annual budgets, inclusion of the Romanian JE in the confederation, and the like. Each evening we had opportunities for informal gatherings, during which we met members from all over Europe. The biggest event was certainly the awards ceremony that followed the dinner as part of the closing ceremony. The National Confederates were euphorically cheering on their Junior Enterprises.

Do you think that the concept should be more presented to students in Croatia?

Absolutely, one of the goals of Next is to assist in the formation of new Junior Enterprises in Croatia and the establishment of the Croatian Confederation. With JADE membership, we are positioned side by side with the most ambitious students from the most developed countries in Europe. In order to strengthen Croatian influence in this community, it is necessary to establish a JE at other faculties in Croatia and to establish a Croatian Confederation. We are currently in communication with student associations at other colleges. It is important to emphasize that the concept is not reserved only for economists. Judging by colleagues from JE from Switzerland and France, I think the concept of JE would be very successful at technical colleges in Croatia.

What thrilled or inspired you?

Every contact with motivated and successful students was inspiring. What I would highlight are the presentations of the Excellence Awards finalists. The presenters, with a limit of 5 minutes, presented their work, and their JE and Confederate colleagues enthusiastically cheered for them. The cheering came to a boil at the closing ceremony during which awards were presented. I was also motivated by the magnitude of the JE twists in countries like France, Switzerland and Italy.

How do you organize your time considering you are a full-time student?

I try not to be out of class. However, sometimes I cannot avoid being absent because of a client meeting, some event we are working on, or, most recently, attending a JADE conference. At ZSEM, they are very friendly towards students who are members of NEXT, so such absences are justified. As far as teaching is concerned, so far I have successfully organized the preparation for the colloquiums and their passing.

Is there anything you have made yourself aware of that you weren’t aware of before until you met such a big role?

The biggest problem I encountered was just guiding Next members – organizing members on tasks and controlling whether everyone performed their duties. For myself, I do not think I give the impression of rigor, indeed. When I took over as President, Barbara advised me to be stricter than her. I do not think I have been able to achieve this rigor, but I believe that I was able to convey to most members the enthusiasm for the very concept of Junior Enterprise.

Have you ever seen yourself in such a position?

Over the past year, I have often spoken with my colleague Nikolina Jurjevic on ideas for the future of Next and I would therefore like to go on this the question was answered in the affirmative. Still, I don’t see myself in this position. I’d say that Nikolina, Lovorka and I are running Next together.