My Journey with Youth Time

Today, Youth Time International Movement celebrates its 10-year-anniversary! What started as a meeting of 150 energetic young people from 34 different countries on the island of Rhodes, Greece turned into an international phenomenon. I was lucky enough to discover the Youth Time Magazine in 2014 and have been a contributing writer for the past six years.

Youth Time did more than just inform me about current issues and opportunities, as its mission statement suggests. The magazine gave me a voice and empowered me to grow as a writer when no one else saw my potential.


About Youth Time Magazine

The magazine is a platform run by young people for young people around the globe. Youth Time International Movement published the very first issue of an international magazine of the same name back in 2010.

Then in November 2014, Youth Time launched an online version of the magazine, creating a digital platform to inform young people about current issues and opportunities. The last issue of the print magazine was released in the summer of 2016 and since then the magazine had focused exclusively on its online content.


Before I Wrote for Youth Time Magazine

I still kick myself for not discovering Youth Time Magazine sooner. After graduating from high school, I was full of ambition but lacked opportunities. Armed with an IB diploma, I began studying at Anglo American University. What started as a diploma in Business Management turned into International Relations.

Olena Kagui (right)
Olena Kagui (right)

But I never wanted to be a businesswoman nor a diplomat. I just wanted to write about things that really mattered.

In search of new friends and a chance to start making something of myself, I joined every single club out there. I explored the International Women’s Association in Prague, attended Rotary meetings, and signed up for meet-ups with every Expat group. IWAP gave me my first writing opportunity for their magazine, The Bridge.

It didn’t bother me that the other members were significantly older than me and had completely different life experiences. But while the amazing women of IWAP took me under their wing, it was hard not to feel like a little girl surrounded by fabulous women who saw me as a child to mentor.

My experiences at the Rotary Club were similar. Everyone was kind and gracious, but it was clear that I didn’t belong and wouldn’t be taken seriously because of my age.

At the other end of the spectrum were the Expat meet-ups. These events were fun and great for my social life. I enjoyed going to pubs with people from all over the world and listening to their stories.

But it was all fun and games all the time. When I finally met people who invited me to more serious networking events, once again I found that I had nothing to offer.


My struggles are not unique. Every young person is at one point stuck in this position. We look for jobs that require previous experience that no one wants to offer us because we’re so young and green.

It was Youth Time that helped me break this cycle.


Discovering The Magazine

It was a series of events that led me to discover Youth Time Magazine. During my second year of AAU, I decided to take my second journalism course. My first course did not go as expected.

The professor started the class by discouraging us from pursuing a career in journalism and our first writing assignment came with no real instruction.

After reading my first ever article, he told me that I would never get published anywhere. This rejection only fuelled my passion and I began submitting articles everywhere I could. By the time I applied for the reporting class a year later, I had a portfolio full of less than mediocre articles.

The reporting course that I was accepted to wasn’t your regular semester class. It was a fast-paced winter course that included two weeks in Ohio during a polar vortex.

When I wasn’t freezing in -40°C ,(which is also -40°F), I was writing about controversial topics that made people gasp and blush. It was around this time that Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution began.

As a Ukrainian-born Czech citizen, I began writing about the situation and even got an informal grant to go to Kyiv and report on the situation there.

It was a few days after I returned to Prague that a classmate from AAU came up to me and asked me if I had heard of Youth Time Magazine.


Writing for Youth Time Magazine

I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I did get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I first spoke to the editor of Youth Time Magazine. Anya didn’t bat an eyelash when I told her that I was 22 and wanted to write for her.

She looked over my articles and, despite the amateur writing and my inability to compose a decent headline, she saw potential. More importantly than that, she gave me my voice.

So many magazines and companies claim to be for young people by young people, but Youth Time Magazine truly fulfilled their promise.

Writing for Youth Time Magazine opened up a whole new world of opportunities. Occasionally, I was given topics to write about. However most of the time, I was asked to pitch my own ideas.

This new experience was terrifying and it was more miss than hit. Week after week I’d get 10 ideas rejected and maybe one approved.

I always thought: ‘this is it, they won’t contact me again because I have no clue what I’m doing.’ Instead, they kept giving me chances to prove myself and get better.

In the six years that I’ve written for Youth Time Magazine, I have completely transformed as a writer. At the same time, Youth Time Magazine has grown as well. I am no longer a fresh-faced 22-year-old and Youth Time now has 10 years of empowering young people under its belt.

The magazine and the movement has taught me to go out there, be confident and try until I succeed.

They even gave me the platform to do so. In a world where young people like myself are thrown out of the nest and expected to fly, Youth Time is the gentle breeze that lifted me up as well as the soft ground to land on when I fell. Youth Time Magazine took me seriously before I ever believed in myself.


Do Not Underestimate Us

Today, I am self-employed and make a living doing what I love the most. Youth Time Magazine was more than just the first rung of the ladder to my writing career.

The magazine and its staff supported me, encouraged me and have grown just like I did. I will not always remain young, but Youth Time will always be relevant to those who are.

The magazine isn’t just a place for aspiring writers. The articles we write offer great advice to young people striving in any industry. We research internships and free or affordable education, and we provide the tools that help young people overcome a variety of obstacles.

Do not underestimate youth – this 10-year-old magazine is a great example of how something young can make an impact. I look forward to at least another six years with the magazine if they’ll have me. Happy anniversary to Youth Time International Movement.

Keep being a place of inspiration and opportunity for young people. May you keep changing the lives of youth all over the world, just like you’ve changed mine.

Photos: Olena Kagui

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