“Important topics and a well-executed programme”

Snežana Andrić describes how the Swedish Institute Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) managed to overcome the challenges of an all-online programme, surprising her by taking the concept well beyond lectures.
A photo of woman with dark long hair that is smiling.

Snežana is the President of the youth organisation Young Ambassadors in Niš. She also works for the European Union delegation in Serbia as a public space manager of the “Info network”. Her jobs mainly revolve around communication, but she has a degree in Sociology from the University of Niš in Serbia. In 2020 she applied to the Swedish Institute Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) for the second time.

-I wasn’t accepted the first time I applied. Of course, I applied this year again. When I found out it would strictly be held online, I was disappointed at first – because it’s easier to get to know other participants and network if you meet in real life.

Snežana soon discovered that the SAYP was unlike other online courses.

-It can be tiring to sit in front of a screen all day, but they organised it well, with a clear structure and information, and the lectures were very interesting. But best of all was that they took it beyond lectures. There were joint projects, group sessions, and even study visits. We took a virtual tour of the Ideon Science Park, meeting people working there, watching short films, viewing the area via their mobile phones. It was a really good programme.’

Snežana applied both because of the focus of the programme – she chose the module on innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurship – but also because of Sweden’s reputation as an innovation leader. She thinks the programme more than delivered on several levels.

-It was especially important for me to better understand the differences between terms, how we can encourage and build entrepreneurial ecosystem, and to learn how Sweden developed its own ecosystem. It helped me both in practice and in theory. After the programme I could make changes in my work, and I see more clearly the opportunities we have to develop an innovation ecosystem in Serbia.

Another thing Snežana took from the programme was the importance of networks and collaboration – both for an innovation ecosystem and for herself.

-Even though we were online, they managed to create an environment where we made real connections between participants. I met a nice person from Macedonia, and we have since executed some joint events. This was one of the main things I got from the programme, being able to continue working together as alumni. I have started to reach out more now, to make something good for all of Balkan.

When asked about her future plans, she thinks before she says she doesn’t have any big plans for herself.

-I try to enjoy the work I am doing and make change. I would like to stay in the civil society sector. To encourage young people to create something for themselves. That’s my goal.

She strongly encourages anyone to apply: for the learnings, the experience, and the network.

-It’s a great experience. A good opportunity, not just for new knowledge and understanding, but also to make great connections with people who do similar things as yourself. A welcomed surprise for me was that as alumni of both SI and of Lund university, even more opportunities open up for us, things we can apply to. This program doesn’t end after two weeks.

SAYP opens for applications mid-February. To find out more and to apply.