Almost every ESNer knows him well, it’s because he is a Vice President of ESN PL. Thanks to that he also met plenty of interesting people. But how did it happen that Szymon decided to take up a position which made him experience ESN from a totally different perspective ? Did he use to dream about it for a long time or was it just a spontaneous decision?
A decision to become a Vice President of such a big organisation as ESN Poland couldn’t be made just overnight. Tell us then, what convinced you to run for a Board Member position?
In my case, the situation was not that clear at the beginning. During the whole year before taking up the position I was not very active on the national level. I was mainly busy with my work and studies. In fact, my appearance as a presidium member during the National Platform ( NP) in Lublin was rather a farewell gesture towards ESN. My plan was to slowly resign from ESN committees and devote myself to writing a thesis and searching for a dream job. However, as it turned out later, it is not that easy to say goodbye to ESN.
During the National Platform there was no candidate for the Vice President function which surprised me a lot since in my opinion it is one of the most attractive position. That was the time when I first considered myself as a potential candidate and this though developed gradually in my head till NWZD ( Special General Delegates’ Meeting) which was held in Warsaw.
Weren’t you afraid that the Board that was incomplete after the NP might have encountered some executive functioning issues?
No, I wasn’t. I knew already who I was going to work with and that knowledge encouraged me even more to run for the position.
From the time perspective, how would you evaluate your decision? Did your expectations meet reality or did you encounter any unforeseen difficulties?
To be honest, I expected the first weeks to be really tough and was simply afraid of that. In fact, it occurred to be not that bad. It’s not like everything lands on your hands all at once and you are left alone with it. You are surrounded by people who are always willing to help you, give you a good advice or simply show how the things work. After all, summer time is not very demanding when it comes to ESNer work so that you can smoothly come in terms with the upcoming responsibilities.
At the end of each cadence the outgoing Board Members are usually asked whether they would go for it one more time. To answer the question, yes I would! The reason why is that being a Vice President of ESN PL turned out to be an incredible adventure which I strongly recommend to everybody!
Did you talk to somebody before making a final decision ? If yes, who was that?
You know..I was rather encouraged by others to run in the elections. However, I tried to asked for an advice people more experienced in ESN than I was, people who I was good friends with. I just needed to feel more confident with myself and the fact that many people believed in me gave me the most strength.
Did you receive a positive feedback? Or maybe it happened to bring you any doubts?
Not really. I mean, the biggest doubt was the fact that nobody wanted to run for the position at the beginning. So that, I was asking myself whether they were encouraging me only because somebody had perform the function or because I was actually a good candidate( laughing). In general, to whoever I turned asking for an advice I always received 100% of support.
I’m sure that many people would like to know how your life changed after you became a Vice President. Or maybe the changes were not that significant?
First of all, you need to realize that when you work for ESN especially at such an important position, your life gets somehow subordinated to that. There are deadlines and duties that cannot be ignored, sometimes even regardless of holidays. In my case, that was the reason why I decided to quit my job. I was simply not able to combine it with university due to the lack of time. The things I’ve mentioned above could be perceived as a negative aspect of my function however I don’t see it this way.
When it comes to the positive side, it would be definitely an opportunity to meet a bunch of great people , opportunity to travel. Plus, you can learn a lot and I’m talking not only about knowledge that comes from the formal duties. You learn also some useful stuff that is related to PR, IT , law or Higher Education policy. It expands your horizons. Then, come good organizational skills and ability to cooperate with others which is what you have to learn. Another thing is that you will be expected to make decisions which are not always that easy. Especially when opinions are divided within the group and you have to reach a consensus.
What did you gain from being a Vice President of ESN PL?
I would say.. self confidence. If you asked me whether I’d like to run for this position, as far as last year I would say “no way” without a consideration. Why? Because I had certain plans, I knew what to do with my life and the Board - it was something out of reach for me. As it occurred, I was wrong. ESN may not be a big corporation however it definitely is a huge and significant student organisation which gives plenty of benefits for its volunteers. Last but not least, you can learn a lot about yourself. As I’ve mentioned already ESN gave me a boost of confidence and made me believe in myself.
Are you planning to go further in your ESN career or slowly leave the stage?
I was a member of ESN Network Committee for two years which I can call a very inspiring and productive time. Right now I’m already an Alumnus of the Committee. When it comes to ESN International I don’t see any possible development paths for myself either. I mean there are plenty of them, but the ones directly related to my professional career plans are slowly coming to an end. I think I’d rather offer my good advice and helping hand to ESN community.
Besides volunteering in ESN, what are the things Szymon Semper likes to do in life?
I like staying awake till late hours and then sleep a lot. I like watching Italian, French or English movies in small, noncommercial cinemas. And I love my studies! ( laughing) It is because they deal with and are focused on people who are my another passion, by the way. To the point that sometimes I even listen to some random conversations in the public transport. I enjoy good craft beers, long walks and lying on the grass beside the Vistula River. I also like exploring old tenements, especially the ones that are forbidden to enter ( laughing). And Italy! That country fascinates me and I’d love to find a job and live there for some time. I don’t think I have any special talents. I’d rather admire other people’s work than create things myself. However, what I find pleasurable is writing, academic writing.
Are you trying to say that writing a Bachelor Thesis was kind of a pleasure for you?
At some point, yes. Maybe it’s because of the fact that I like building long and complex sentences.