Have you ever thought of your life in terms of a puzzle?
On your way you collect a lot of pieces, but it is difficult to place them in the right place. You start to create a plan, to guess how the final picture could be, but most of the times your journey surprises you with choices whose shape you could not predict. So you start again to organize your puzzle, telling yourself that this time you know what you are doing, but you end up putting all the pieces in the box again hoping for a sign from heaven.
This is the fascinating challenge of our generation: we start our bachelor following our passion, in the meantime we try to join as many volunteer or extracurricular projects as possible to enrich our personal growth, we do the Erasmus program and it changes the way we see the world. Then we graduate and we start our first professional internships in companies, start-ups or NGOs, and carried by the enthusiasm of our age we start looking at the Masters that matches our dreams and expectations. It is exactly in this moment that you start to ask yourself some questions: What is my dream job? Where do I want to build my life? How can I connect the dots of all my experiences? When I was asked to write about my personal experience in CEMS so far, I started thinking about what was the most meaningful impact that this choice had in my life. Being in the first year of this Master means having an early-bird eye view on the program, full of enthusiastic curiosity about how this adventure is going to be. I looked around at my colleagues, and realized how brilliant and unique all the members of CEMS are. What surprised me the most, was the variety of different backgrounds, culture, experiences and mindsets of the people in the program. So I asked myself what was the fil rouge that brought all of us here, and I found my answer in the puzzle: one piece at a time, CEMS makes you work in progress right up to the last piece. Let’s take a step back. Two years ago, when I first heard about the program, I was genuinely convinced that I would never be able to be part of the network of this outstanding international students. Every time I met a Cemsie, I started to ask a lot of questions about their academic achievements until I asked the most important one: “Do you have any advice on how to make through the selection process?” And the answer was always the same “Just be yourself ”. So, I tried. I wrote my motivational letter highlighting my strengths and stating how this program could change my life, and choosing every word filtering its meaning with my personality. I started to think about what I gained from every experience I made and how this can be projected in the future: the first phase of organizing my puzzle. After that, I prepared my Curriculum Vitae for my application, and I was surprised by how the big picture of my path could fit so coherently with the purpose of the program. Lastly, I prepared myself for the interviews. I read all the information about CEMS, I learned by heart the corporate and social partners, I prepared my speech about why I wanted to go in that specific destination and why I wanted to study in Lisbon. At the end, the fact that I could discuss about the linguistic similarities between Portuguese and Italian counted more than any other GPA. This was the second phase of organizing my puzzle: CEMS perfectly reflected my personality. It is not about how good your grades are or how many professional references letters you have. Instead, it is about accepting the responsibility of being an ambassador of the values and goals that it promotes. Finally I arrived at NOVA and my journey started for real. One of the first decisions I took was to apply for the Cems Club. I was, and I am, totally convinced that being in Cems means being an active part of this community and having an active role in helping to build it. Undoubtedly, I choose to apply for the Marketing and Communications Department and to be responsible for the contents of the website. According to each person’s personal attitude and passions, all of my friends decided for which team of the Cems Club they wanted to apply: Corporate Relations Team, Social Events team or to be the Treasurer or a Team Leader. This was another exercise to realize how to manage our pieces in accordance to our skills: this article itself is, for me, a step to forecast my final big picture. The same applies to all the Cemsies that are experiencing networking events, team games, volunteer activities, or even crazy running cocktails organized by the Cems Club. In the meantime all of us are thinking about where to go next year, trying to match our chances with our dreams. What I learned so far is that in the beginning, the pieces are an incoherent and a jumbled mess. Step by step, challenging yourself is the only way to find the leitmotiv that drives your journey. We do not even know how many pieces there are, and we don’t find the boundaries and the corner pieces until we own all of them. Mine has a couple missing pieces at the moment, and somehow I know that Cems is going to jump in to help real soon to find the missing ones.
This is the most meaningful impact that the choice of Cems had in my life. The secret to take the most out of it, is to be an active part of the community and to leave a little piece of your personality in it. This sounds exciting, doesn’t it?