The adventures of a Junior Entrepreneur

By Elisa Berger, Project Manager at Junior ISIT & Staff Team Member for the Junior Enterprises Winter Conference 2020

JEE Winter Conference behind the scenes

Elisa Berger Project Manager at Junior ISIT

A few weeks ago, I left Paris to go to Brussels – nothing to worry about for a girl from Junior ISIT who is well used to travelling. But this time was special: I was about to step a foot in the Junior Enterprises Europe (JEE) House, in order to be a member of the Staff of the JEE Winter Conference, taking place every year in Brussels. I knew I was about to live an intense experience and to meet exceptional people, but I didn’t know I would end up being so inspired and passionate about our Network.

My name is Elisa Berger, I am a French Junior Entrepreneur from Junior ISIT and I took part in the organisation of the Junior Enterprises Europe Winter Conference at the end of February 2020, and this is my story. Here is how it happened.

The very beginning of an adventure

To begin with, I had to apply, make a motivational video to introduce myself, my resume and skills, and show what I could bring to the event. When I knew I had been chosen, I was glad, and I knew it was the beginning of an overwhelming adventure. And it sure was! Before the Staff Week even started, we all had the chance to know some of each other through jokes or challenges. I couldn’t wait any longer to meet my funny fellow Junior Entrepreneurs.

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Right off the train in a city I had never been to, I had to reach the mysterious JEE House. I was the first one to arrive there, and I met the ExBo and the Brussels-based Managers, all very friendly. A tip for you if you go to the JEE House: bring your slippers – no shoes allowed in the house!

First rule in the house: one shall only speak English, so no one would feel excluded. And, eventually, all play along! So, we all managed to connect, living in a great cross-cultural environment making international friends from Italy, Germany, Portugal, and France.

Work hard, play hard

The Staff Team at the Office of the JEE House, working hard

Let’s focus on priorities, though – we were in Brussels to work! The Staff Week is indeed meant to properly train the Staff Members in welcoming the participants of the Junior Enterprises Winter Conference, making things as smooth as possible for them. In order to achieve that goal, we benefited from the support of our wonderful Winter Conference Project Manager, Mariana Rebelo. All the venues, the Operation Plan, the Junior Enterprises Europe presentation, and the VIP identities, we had to know everything by heart. Why? Because it was the only way we could answer each and every question that you, as a participant, may ask.

Everyday, after breakfast and a five-minute slot in the bathroom, we would start with an energizer to put us in the mood. When ready, we were trained and completed last minute tasks to be sure everything was ready for the D-Day. Everyone had some specific tasks, and what I enjoyed the most was that we were all assigned to something fitting our aspirations and skills. It felt like we were all working in synergy, with the same purpose; we were One Big Team!

Living all together, we ended up really close. We were all contributing to our community life, being part of the cleaning or the cooking teams. This is what gave us the opportunity to have a cross-cultural experience, and most of all to share special recipes of… pasta, because I had never eaten such a heap of pasta. Not so bad, at the end of the day!

Despite our routine and hard work, we also managed to have fun going out! On the weekend, we got to start working a little later and, because we had to keep the fun down after 9 p.m. in the house, to enjoy the rest of the night in Brussels, dancing in the club and eating fries before heading back home.

Winter Conference is coming…

The final stretch, a few days before it all starts, we needed to check all our tasks on the to-do list. From role play sessions, to make sure we knew exactly what to do and say in front of the participants, to badges, which sometimes tested our patience, everything had to be ready.
The Staff Week officially ended with the Staff Ceremony, during which we truly became Staff Members of the Junior Enterprises Europe Winter Conference 2020.
We were finally ready to go!

Let’s get it started

We were on our way to the hotel for the check-in, I was as much excited as my teammates despite my three-hour sleep. We were all prepared and pumped up, ready to welcome and help the participants.

Me (left) and Catarina de Carvalho from jeKnowledge (right), during the check-in

In compliance with our stunning Operation Plan, each of us was committed to offer the participants the best of this international event. Because when you’re a participant you expect everything to be planned for you, to have someone to answer your questions and guide you when needed. So we tried to provide you all the advice and help you could ask for. It went pretty smooth during the event, and anytime something started going a little wrong, we all found solutions together to make it work again, because the show needed to go on.
I think I slept about twelve hours in four days, but that was definitely worth it! During the Winter Conference, we could finally see the results of our work.

You’re my wonderwall

If you were there for the closing ceremony, then you may have heard this song, our song, our Staff Team song. But we wanted to display that it goes beyond just us: all of us are part of the same Network and we grow together. That’s why the metaphor of a wonderwall suits perfectly our Junior Entrepreneur Network.

Although we had a hard time trying to handle the Covid-19 crisis, which had started to spread in Europe, we tried to overcome this difficulty and “change beyond the limits” it had put in our way.

I am really proud of what we achieved. And I am more than delighted I took the chance to be part of the Staff Team. I learnt so much and met great people I never want to forget. I felt I belonged to a team and that’s a beautiful feeling I wish anyone to know.

Never hesitate to face a challenge and do it for the teaching you get – change beyond limits!

JEE Winter

JEE Winter Conference behind the scenes

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