“Entrepreneurial mindset comes in handy at any step, in any period and in any situation.”
Klavdija Zimmer, a third-year student at the Entrepreneurship Study Programme, has shown her grit to the challenges of life during her teenage years and moved to the United Kingdom, specifically Manchester, to pursue her studies to become a veterinarian. Her daring and decisive nature helped her gain new experiences on the island, only to return and today she is completing her studies here. She shared what pushed her to keep going, to jump through hurdles; how she experiences entrepreneurship and what waits around the corner during a lovely chat.
You are invited to read more!
You have decided to study abroad at a very young age. How did that work out? Would you suggest the same to young people today?
During my secondary education I felt a strong need to gain abroad experience. After I concluded my third year of high school, I packed my bags, put € 200 in my pocket and set off to Manchester, where I wanted to study to become a veterinarian. My parents were worried, which is understandable, and the school did not give consent for my “year off”, yet my desire to go abroad was greater than those obstacles.
I knew it was going to be hard, since I did not acquire my secondary education degree. When I look back today, I ask myself many times if it was perhaps a hurried decision. Today I rather claim to be someone who has everything under control and leave nothing to coincidence, rather than being a spontaneous person. I did receive an offer to enrol at the University of Liverpool to acquire a certain level of education, which is equal to our high school and therefore I applied for the study programme, but I travelled to England in January and had to wait until October. Well, for less than a year I took on any job offered, lived completely independently and all of that was the best possible experience. After almost a year I returned back home for the holidays and decided to continue my studies here.
After that I finished my secondary education, passed the matura examination, enrolled at the Faculty of Health Sciences, dropped out soon after that and here I am today. 🙂
What led you from the Faculty of Health Sciences to us?
After graduating from high school I enrolled at the Faculty of Health Sciences in Ljubljana, since I was interested in dental prosthetics. Very soon after that I realised this profession will not fulfil me and I dropped out. After consulting with my mother, who works in the field of economics and has a responsible work position at a large Slovenian company, I realised that I should try out this particular field, so I had to choose between the Faculty of Economics and GEA College. The latter won, since I was mostly convinced by the Entrepreneurship study programme, which students can select at the beginning of the studies and, of course, by the emphasis on practice-oriented study mode and smaller student groups.
This is my final year at the GEA College and I can honestly say that the Faculty has encouraged me to strive for new challenges at each step. I am trying to be attentive to everything around me and figure out how to contribute to a solution for a specific problem. This is what GEA has instilled in me and I am grateful for that.
But I would like to add that we started learning about entrepreneurship rather late in the process. It would be great if we could rather learn about it earlier, perhaps as part of a subject, so that everyone could become entrepreneurs, leaders, managers and similar. They should learn us how the mindset comes in handy at any step, in any period and in any situation.
Can you tell us more on your entrepreneurial experience?
During the studies I initiated personal supplement employment and sold my unique relief paintings on canvas. I sold them directly or via flower shops and boutique shops with similar programmes. Mostly I wanted the entrepreneurial experience and this form was low on costs so I headed for the adventure. I soon realised that sales via other traders is pretty expensive and pointless for me. Yet, it was an incredible experience, since I was a “one-man-band” and I got a very good insight into the business. I produced, marketed and sold on my own. I have become much more systematic, recorded all of the numbers from the process and searched for optimal solutions.
What challenges await you today, tomorrow?
Actually, I just became part of a team in a new company. My job is to practically cover all the marketing and supply and sales, so I expect it will be quite a challenge. And I am very excited. Any larger decision we reach in life is an opportunity for business as well as personal growth. And my thesis is based on that company, specifically their branding strategy.
Also, I think I won’t be happy if I do not try out my own entrepreneurial story. We own quite some land and we offer a smaller supply of certain crops. I am also a great lover of animals, and I want to own horses someday. Perhaps I will try out agricultural tourism, who knows. I got this after my father, who attempted many entrepreneurial ideas besides his regular employment. It was his way of thinking that proved to me no obstacle is too big, if you stay persistent and committed on your path.
You also advantaged from the Student Challenge well, didn’t you? Do you think such competitions present a good opportunity for students and companies?
Yes, it’s true. My team and I participated in the student challenge for the DUOL Company and we were won first place. The company offer the opportunity of internship and I was happy to accept it. I worked in marketing, focusing on the FSB fair organisation in the German Köln. Besides that the company enabled me to try out some other fields as well. The internship at the DUOL Company was definitely the best employment experience to this day. When a company accepts a student for internship, they present a certain amount of trust, since the student is not familiar with the company. Such trust expressed influences confidence and that is really good. I would like more of that.
This is all part of taking responsibility, which is not seen as something positive by the young people and we try to steer away from it. I believe teenagers should be faced with more responsibilities and challenges, and by that I don’t mean the race for good grades, but more life situations. My experience in England taught me that I am on my own. If I decided to do it, I had to find a way to do it on my own. I would like to advise the young people to grab the opportunity of working or studying abroad with both hands. It is hard, but the experience is priceless.
Student Challenge is a great opportunity for all participants, and mostly for creating bonds between students and companies.
You said your mother is a director at one of the larger companies. What do you think she is like, as a leader? What kind of a leader do you wish to become?
The role of a leader in any organisation is probably not the easiest one for any woman. The world of business is still mostly a man’s world and we, the women, need certain skills to be successful. I respect my mother greatly, since I can see how far she has come. A good leader must stand tall, have power and charisma. And from time to time she passes on incredibly useful and practical advice from the entrepreneurial world; for example, never have meetings last over an hour. She claims that time needs to be used as best as possible. I am learning that as well.
Other than that, I believe she is a connector and I want to the like that. She is aware that every employee is important and a company of hundred employees has a hundred of different characters. We must approach each of them in their own way, if we strive for success. I would like to include the employees in the decision-making process and by that encourage and motivate them to work as a unit. A company is not just a collection of departments, separated among each other; it is a unit, growing together. I would also like to point out how important a relaxed mood is in a company. I had an opportunity to work at a facility with escape rooms, which companies visited for team building events, and that is where I learned what it really means. There was no hierarchy, everybody was the same and more relaxed, as well as united.
I think it is a great thing the faculty focuses on that, mainly at the Staff and Organisation subject. We focus so much on how to connect the employees, how to create an entrepreneurial climate, how to approach rewarding and such.
What sector is most appealing to you nowadays?
Ever since I started my studies, I am drawn to healthcare. Part of my path will definitely venture in that field. The other sector, which I am interested in, is the story I mentioned with my father, which I believe will develop through the years and remain a part of my career. Currently I am most interested in a marketing workplace, since I am a very creative person. I am very excited about the upcoming entrepreneurial path, since I have a feeling, I will get an opportunity for new business and life experience.
To conclude, do you have a student entrepreneurial advice for the generations behind you?
I would advise them to be persistent on their path, wherever it may lead them. I know it is sometimes incredibly hard, yet it is better to remember what you have created, than what opportunities you missed. And by that we cannot forget about the people we meet on that path, since they are the ones enriching our lives 🙂 .