In one of our previous stories, we talked extensively about Kroj Network’s initiatives to strengthen Slovenia's youth by giving them career-related advice. Adding to it, we got candid with Martina Mrakovcic. She works with Zavod Nefiks as a coordinator of Mreža KROJ. She shared with us her experiences and counseling patterns while dealing with young minds.
A psychologist by profession, Martina Mrakovcic works as a youth worker at Kroj Network. Mrakovcic’s job requires her to establish a dialogue with all the member organizations and coordinate their common activities. She believes that with the constant efforts of Kroj Network, they can prepare better activities for youth and youth workers that will offer more support with career counseling.
Kroj Network: A Mission to Harness the Energy of Young Minds for Holistic Development
Mreža KROJ (KROJ network) connects the youth sector organizations that deal with the career development of young people. By setting quality standards and offering training to youth workers, its mission is to provide young people with quality information and space to develop their potential.
Mrakovcic shares that at Kroj, she interacts with different young people daily. Since they have regular interaction, they share their ideas, feelings, and thoughts with her—sometimes things that are as personal as having a new crush or getting into an altercation with their parents or friends. This process lays a strong foundation of trust that leads them to consult her concerning their career paths after completing formal education. Mrakovcic highlights that it is here where Kroj’s career counseling services and her expertise come in handy. She helps them in the decision-making process by asking the right questions so they can reflect on what they want. She helps them identify quality information to find out their options. She adds that she helps other youth volunteers and students to reflect and gain new competencies under her mentorship in the network.
Successful Initiatives by Kroj That Strive to Open New Avenues of Ideas and Dialogue
When asked what, according to her, were the most successful and prominent projects of Kroj Network, Mrakovcic explained that the whole network is, in a way, successfully helping the young folks achieve their career paths. However, in specifics, she shares that the most promising initiative of the KROJ Network is the training program for youth career counselors. She elaborates that they offer this training to all the youth workers who lack formal knowledge about the same but find it essential to learn while working with youth. Because young people will always turn to the youth worker that they trust before they turn to the career center or the employment agency who might be complete strangers to them, the skill becomes imperative in building trust between the two individuals. After the training, the youth workers have some basic counseling skills while talking to a young person about their career decision.
The other exciting and successful initiative is the common ‘career chatroom’ where youth workers from different member organizations offer free career counseling to young people. The chatroom operates through Facebook, Instagram, Discord channels, and in-person as well. She explains that the program enables young folks to ask questions, get written answers, or arrange one-on-one sessions with the counselor.
Mrakovcic’s Message for the Young Readers Who Dare to Dream
Mrakovcic shared with us a guide to turning dreams into reality. For a start, she stresses that one should make sure what they are seeking and aiming to achieve in life is actually their ‘own’ dream or if it is something they are trying to make peace with based on their family and friends’ opinions.
The next step she shares deals more with being skilled or gaining skills required for your career. This might require young people to do an internship, earn a degree, or even travel for volunteering activities.
The last step is all about setting SMART goals. Mrakovcic breaks down SMART for us as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. She explains this with an example: if she wants to develop a mobile application, the best way to go about it is first to learn to program.
Taking the process a level higher, Mrakovcic advises the young folks to take the first step even if the goal seems unachievable and scary. She says that taking the first step is the most significant level as it ignites the whole journey with a fire of passion and determination. She adds that asking for guidance will only make the path easier or more manageable, so it is better to be vocal about one’s problems and obstacles and ask for help.
Photo courtesy of Martina Mrakovcic
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