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"The main skill acquired at the Masters’ programme that helps me to move forward is the ability to process and analyze information".

I decided to look for my vocation by challenging myself and embracing the change. While doing my second year of the Master´s programme, I helped my friend and groupmate Katerina Shipilova to develop a startup company for paper collection MK Service. The startup represented an official partner of the youth festival for environment and sustainable development “VuzEcoFest” 2017. Being engaged in the environmental area made me realize that I want to proceed further in this direction. The main question is to understand what I want to do exactly. Here comes the fascinating part - my participation in the European Voluntary Service.

"The main skill acquired at the Masters’ programme that helps me to move forward is the ability to process and analyze information".

What is EVS?

The European Voluntary Service is a programme financed by the European Union which allows young people in the age 17-30 to do an internship at an NGO abroad. The internship lasts from 2 to 12 months depending on the type of the project. All the expenses including monthly allowance are covered. Throughout 20 years of the programme existence, more than 10 000 youngsters have been engaged all over Europe and neighbouring countries.

 

How to find a project?

There is an official database of all available projects. Moreover, some vacancies are published on other websites like findevs.com or facebook groups. The aim is to keep track of the deadlines for all projects you are particularly interested in. In order to apply you need to prepare two documents: CV and a motivation letter. Motivation letter has to be written for every project separately; however, some key ideas can be repeated regardless of the project you are applying for. There are several sending organizations in Russia that assist volunteers applying for projects, for example, Sfera or Lastochki.

 

To wait or not to wait?

After applying you start waiting for an uncertain period of time. Many receiving organizations are not even able to handle the inflow of applications hence sometimes they do not reply at all. One of the project I applied for simply suspended the enrollment of new volunteers. The most difficult part is not to give up and do not consider yourself as the wrong candidate. The whole process takes time. I started my active search in September and received an invitation for an interview only in April! Honestly, I anticipated this because I was looking only for environmental projects which are not numerous.

Not all organizations are ready to receive volunteers from Russia as it implies additional expenses such as visa costs or long distance travelling. It is an external factor which cannot be influenced. Everything depends on the financial possibilities and willingness of the receiving organization.

Online interview is the final stage of the application process. I had two rounds. To pass them I carefully studied structure and activities of the organization to be able to give clear and reasoned answers. In my mind, I precisely pictured the links between my motivation and goals of the project. The main peculiarity of the EVS programme is that as an applicant you do not have to possess specific skills or knowledge to be selected. The goal is to convince the receiving organization of your desire to participate.

Undoubtedly, the project suitable for you will pop up if you have patience and strength to believe in yourself.

 

Learn how to see the difference

I work for an NGO “Finnish Association for Nature Conservation” at the EKOenergy project located in Helsinki, Finland. EKOenergy is an international ecolabel for electricity and gas. In addition to being 100% renewable, the energy sold with the EKOenergy label fulfills additional environmental criteria and raises funds for new renewable energy projects.

Our main goal is to make renewable energy accessible for consumers all over the globe. We focus not only on communication and awareness raising but on the effective ways of cooperation with institutional bodies which shape energy policy at national levels. Every year we finance projects in developing countries that tackle energy poverty. For me, it is a real opportunity to see how one relatively small action can change the quality of life in one or another region. We take many things  such as access to electricity or decent working conditions for granted, but their value should not be underestimated.

Now i am more realistic about the world we are living in and global challenges we face. We frequently discussed various ways to identify these challenges during the classes of “Foresight” and “Science, Technology and Innovation policy”.

During the course “Social studies for STI” we devoted our time to finding links between technologies and social changes they evoke. Now i have an opportunity to see how it works in practice while reporting on climate projects in developing countries we finance.

 

Everything is possible with the open-minded approach

At the very beginning I wanted to find a project connected to education but it was not easy to find one. Then i decided to try my hand at something new and unknown but still related to the environmental area. This new and unknown happened to be the renewable energy sector. It means that I had to submerge completely into it and learn a lot of things almost from scratch. I assume I successfully dealt with this challenge.

The main skill acquired at the Masters’ programme that helps me to move forward is the ability to process and analyze information. Thanks to the intensive work with Evgeny Kutsenko on the master thesis I am also confident in presenting and reasoning the outcome of the work I am doing.

 

What’s next?

EVS is a fulfilling journey which has to end, however my passion doesn’t end here and I will continue working in the area of environmental protection and sustainable development.