Interview with Katja Zemljič, Secretary General of EFPSA

January 10, 2021 secretary 0 Comments

We have an open call for EFPSA’s Board 2021-2022 and you can find it here. Because we wanted to present more of each position and the work that it entails, we are presenting you a series of interviews done with the current members of The Board. If you want to know more about the position of Secretary General, you can contact  Katja at secretary@efpsa.org

 

Why did you decide to apply for this position?

I was a Secretary at my Psychology Association in Maribor, so this is the position that I saw myself suitable in. I love administrational tasks (haha, I know usually people dislike them), but for me, sending emails, taking minutes, databases work, etc. is fun. I also had big plans for my position, because I think as EFPSA we need to spread out more, make us more represented in countries that are not our members yet, and also in our Member Organisations. I checked the team that I was overseeing (the EFPSA Office) and their role descriptions, to see what my position would entail and what I would learn from it. When I realised I would be working with people who create the magazine, take care of the working community, analyse our data and take care of the website and its content, I knew this was the position for me since it would allow me simultaneously improving relations within Working Community and also gain a bigger reach of EFPSA.

 

How do you balance this commitment with your other responsibilities (work, studying, job, etc.)?

When you become a part of The Board, you need to change your priorities, and your EFPSA work needs to be in your top three. Having a clear work plan and a planner helps a lot – you know from the start that we have a weekly meeting on a certain day and you should not plan anything on that day. Also, it is better to take care of things and tasks as they come and not leave them to a certain time – I get very stressed when my email has over 10 unread emails, so I learnt to use my free time to check emails (waiting on a tram, taking a lunch break in my job, etc.). I also have my “to do” tasks written on sticky notes and have them on my wall behind my computer – this way I have a clear overview of what I need to do. Also, to me, what really resembles EFPSA work is “Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” which to me simply means that if you love your job, then the work is not a problem. 

 

What were your biggest challenges for you as a part of the Board and as your position?

For my position – always knowing what is happening in my office all the time and have a clear overview. I do not have a coordinator, so all the responsibility is on me. Fortunately, I have a very amazing team, so this was not a difficult task. Also, I need to know what is happening with EFPSA all the time; if we got someone new in the Executive Board if someone resigned, if some information on the website needs to be changed, etc. I needed to know to change the necessary information. 

The biggest challenge of being part of the Board is to keep your head in the clouds but your feet on the ground. We had and still have great ideas for the development of EFPSA, but we cannot achieve all of them in our mandate. It is important to set high but realistic goals for what you want to achieve, and for what you cannot achieve – you just write the ideas in your Knowledge Transfer so the next generation can make them happen.

What have you gained from this experience and what was the most rewarding part of it?

The most rewarding part is definitely the people you work with and the relationships you form with them – I never had a group of such amazing friends with whom you grow together and work on such a big task together.  I did not know many of the Board members when we were elected, but we got close very soon and created a safe and supporting environment.  For what I have gained is more confidence in myself and my ideas, being out of my comfort zone and realising how much potential I have. I have also learnt some skills that I never could have imagined I would gain – like knowing WordPress for example, using Canva, and learning how to make my texts more “spicy” (thanks to Bojana for all the inspiration 😉 ). 

What would you say are the important assets for becoming a Board member?

Definitely openness – to new ideas, to ideas that differ from your personal ones to changes. It is crucial that we look in the future and see how we can improve EFPSA. Because you are working with so many people, of course, you need to have good communication skills and tell others if you disagree with something. You also need to be aware that you have the responsibility of your teams and act like it. For the Secretary General position, you need good organisation and time management skills – you need to answer emails in a certain time limit, you need to have an overview of what is happening with EFPSA, and obviously – good writing skills for the minutes taking. 

 

What was the best moment of your mandate so far?

When we had our social evening on virtual EB&MR, we decided to do the LaLa dance. I was with Deia, in a very small room, with our computers on Zoom call with the Working Community and everybody started dancing. It was a true sign of how you can still connect with people and have a feeling of togetherness despite being apart.. Also the last social evening on EB&MR when we started the zoom call at 21:00, and then nobody wanted to leave – at one point people were already in their beds but still on the call, although it was 3 in the morning.