Unique learning experience cultivated to a dream job


“Oh c’mon you’re my mother! How on earth could you find something interesting for me to check out?” was the first thought Iiris Lyyra, 28, had in her mind, when her mom told her about SHIFT Business Festival and the volunteering opportunities. Doubtfully she clicked her way onto SHIFT’s website and realized that her mom might be right… “The website looked cool. I was studying marketing and my first thought was I wanted to learn to make something as cool as that. I also needed a place for my practical training, and I found out that SHIFT actually was looking for people right then. I contacted them and started almost straight away as a marketing and communications assistant.”


Iiris’s major at the university was marketing, but at SHIFT it was the first time she had had a marketing related job. Before her studies, she had been living in Belgium training horses professionally and wasn’t really sure what to expect. “I didn’t expect it to be this much, I mean I was prepared to do hands-on work but I didn’t expect to get this much responsibility or get to actually do and experience so much different tasks and learn new skills. So, I guess, I really had no expectations but still, SHIFT went way beyond whatever I did expect.”


How to tackle uncertainty with a great attitude


“It’s hard to see it from the chaos what is it going to be.” From the years with horses, Iiris had learned that nothing ever goes according to plans but still the so-called chaos made the challenges seem close to impossible “Sometimes the deadlines felt impossible. For example, the flyers had to be ready next morning and we haven’t even started. That felt sometimes very stressful and challenging. Often, I was thinking that this doesn’t make any sense. But on the other hand, then you really learn to manage the stress – and somehow we always managed to leave me wondering how we did it.”

SHIFT has had a great impact on my life.

Regardless of the continuous exchange between feeling unsure with the first-time-ever-challenges and getting surprised by the success, she holds onto her belief that to get there where you want to go, you have to be pushed. “From the horse side I had learned that when something unexpected happens you can’t go like ‘omg, I can’t do this!’ Instead, I asked a lot because the deadline was there, and I had to do it. It was like sometimes you looked at it like is this really necessary but looking at it afterward it was good and it really made you like push the limit and give everything out of yourself too.”


“SHIFT has had a great impact on my life.” Iiris admits. By tackling the challenges put in front of her she gained something she values dearly. “For me, one of the biggest outcomes was that I proved to myself that I can do this because I thinking that what if I can only ride horses – or what if I am studying a wrong thing and I cannot handle this. After SHIFT I felt like “yea”, I can rock this too.”


The silver lining in hardships


Going back to school has made her realize how impactful silver lining was embedded in the challenges. Her experience with SHIFT compared with some of her friends’ experiences had given her not only confidence and ways around stress management but also some serious skills. “Few of my friends have been in very big companies where they won’t get any responsibilities besides making coffee. SHIFT is a good place for someone who is willing to learn – because here you got a lot of responsibility and the challenges that come with the thing you want to do. You’re given as much responsibility as you want to take, sometimes a bit more than you want.”

Then there are times like …  going to watch the pitching competition that turned out to be life-changing for me.

When asked how did she manage everything that was a bit more than she asked for it comes down to the hunger to learn and… “team is the best thing. You get to know lots of new people. It’s fun and the group atmosphere was really great and unique the way you’re encouraged and supported. I couldn’t have done it without them.” When asked about the most memorable things, it’s clear that time has done its magic. “I was thinking a long time about the unforgettable things but there are so many things that it’s hard to pinpoint one. There are times like the night before the event when we were outside in the pouring rain putting up the flags. I was soaked and it was horrible, but then again I was told that thank god I am tough cookie. In my mind also I was determined to finish it. Then there are times like the event itself and the fun we had with Sara (read Sara’s interview here) when hosting stage and going to watch the pitching competition that turned out to be life-changing for me.”     


She isn’t only grateful for the rich experience world or the people she worked with but also the lessons embedded into the weekly routines and ways to do things. “For me personally it was also good in terms of techniques I learned to use in the everyday work that I have found to be very useful afterward. For example, all that brainstorming stuff we did together teach not only the technique but also group work in such a way you never learn in school.”


Exploit the new superpowers


It’s not exaggerating to say that the time Iiris spent learning in SHIFT cultivated her ready to catch her dreams. “S-word I have is super. You need to have superpowers to work at SHIFT and everyone who works here has superpowers, so like SHIFT, in general, is a very super event and the people making it happen are super.”  


Iiris found her superpowers when listening to the pitching competition. “ When listening to the pitch from Aavagen… well, that was the moment when I realized this is the thing. That I want to work for them and I could combine my knowledge of horses and marketing. After SHIFT I contacted them during the summer. I wrote my thesis for them and started my practical training as the Head of Marketing and I hope I can stay once it ends.”

S-word I have is super. You need to have superpowers to work at SHIFT and everyone who works here has superpowers

However, Iiris is not saying that you should know your superpowers before volunteering for SHIFT. All you have to have is the unraveling desire to find yours: “You have to be ready to throw yourself in without any expectations and to work hard for what we’re heading to. I think it also goes together with superpowers that you have to be interested in the things SHIFT is about. On top of that, you have to be curious, keen on to learn new things – and be ready to work for them. SHIFT is absolutely a unique place for learning, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a couch potato and not ready for the challenge.”


Do you want to be the next Iiris? The application period for SHIFT 2019 Crew members is now open – fill in your application here.