Name: Mária Melinda Elekes
Studies & University: Master’s in Counselling and School Psychology (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) – graduated in June 2019
Why did you join the Board of Management?
As a Member Representative in the previous mandate, I realised that working in EFPSA is one of the most meaningful things that I can do during my studies. I’ve always been a very active student but EFPSA gave me a unique opportunity to challenge myself while contributing to something that goes beyond borders. It was appealing that my work and effort could have a real impact and that I can prove myself in a position with more responsibility. I was very motivated to work in the Members Office, because this team supports all the student organisations that are members of EFPSA or would like to join the Federation in the future. I liked the idea of observing how student organisations grow and develop in different countries, while contributing to a similar process on the European level.
What is the best thing about your position?
I chose the position of the Member Representatives Officer because the thought of working with one of the largest groups of EFPSA (more than 30 Member Representatives) made me very enthusiastic. Of course, it can be challenging sometimes, especially as we are mostly working online, but the diversity, the energy and the power that this team can have is amazing. I am in direct contact with all our Member Organisations (MOs), knowing people from all these countries and being able to strengthen connections – between our MOs and EFPSA, between the different MOs and, also, within the Working Community. The Member Representatives Officer works with almost every team of EFPSA, and connects them to the Member Representatives. Overseeing the work of the Members Office is also truly fascinating because we are actively working towards the expansion of EFPSA.
What is the biggest challenge you had to face with this mandate?
My biggest challenge was quite personal and is connected to time management. I graduated in June, so I was only a student for a few months during the mandate, and I have had a full-time job since then. Of course, I considered this when I applied for BM and I knew that sometimes it will be difficult to find time and energy for everything, including EFPSA. It is challenging but never impossible. I was able to find a flexible job where all my experience within EFPSA is appreciated, and my skills regarding time management, planning, delegating tasks etc. improved a lot during this time. The key is actually to be transparent and to communicate about busier periods openly. This way the other people in BM and, also my Office were always able to help and support me.
How did you maintain your EFPSA responsibilities with your other responsibilities?
EFPSA BM requires commitment, but the working time is really flexible. We work and communicate mostly online, which can sometimes be challenging but it is also a really big advantage. You can work anywhere and anytime, during travelling, or when you are waiting for someone, or unexpectedly have some free time before a class or something. And to be honest, most of the tasks are entertaining, so sometimes I did not even notice that I was actually doing something important while I was having fun. Being the MRO means that you are always connected to other people, and these interactions can make you really energetic. This energy that I get from EFPSA can be easily put into other responsibilities. It was also useful to learn how to separate work and personal life – we are working online, but we cannot be always available. Keeping a balance is really important for mental health and for work efficiency too.
What skills have you acquired during this mandate?
I can work in an international environment, I have experience in coordinating volunteers, and I am aware of how intercultural differences can influence the communication and working practices – these are really simple things that are automatically gained during your time in EFPSA, but these skills are actually surprisingly valuable on the job market. In my position particularly as the MRO, I think the most important skills that I acquired are connected to communication, public speaking and managing larger groups. Even the things that I thought I was good at improved a lot – like organising, planning, keeping track of deadlines and managing information. BM helped me in strategic thinking, giving more constructive feedback and delegating tasks.