Iva is the Account Coordinator for our Content and Creative Team, and she is the protagonist of episode #9 of the Humans of Kiwi.com series. Not only has she travelled all over Europe, but she also cooperated extensively with student organisations, and loves the fact that thanks to her job she can ‘fit many boxes at one time’. There’s much more to it, obviously, so have a good read!
What is your current state of mind?
Ah… I’m thinking about what to cook for dinner, and what to buy in the supermarket. I think I will cook something to get rid of all the vegetables in the refrigerator because they’d go bad otherwise, and I don’t like wasting food.
So I will cook like a witch: I will put everything together in a pot, add some herbs and spices, and let it boil for a long time. There will probably be some smoke around!
When did you join Kiwi.com and what brought you here?
I joined Kiwi.com on the first Monday of December 2018. To explain what brought me here, I guess I should tell the story of how I arrived in the Czech Republic.
When I finished my studies, I told myself: “Okay, Iva, you’re going to do one more mobility programme, and then you’re done. You will go back to Croatia, find a job, and that’s it. Just one last internship, and it will take place somewhere in Central Europe. Six months, and you’re back.”
I moved to Brno for an internship at a very small company. It was a co-working project, and I loved it instantly, both the company and the city: it was love at first sight. I made friends very fast, and I really liked the culture, because I felt like I was part of it. So I decided to stay.
At the end of my internship, they offered me a position, and I stayed with them for around a year and a half. At that point, I felt I had grown as much as I could at that company, and I had learnt all that I could learn. That’s when I found my current job here at Kiwi.com, which is fulfilling my desire to learn more and gain more experience. That’s why I’m here.
One thing I’m especially keen to mention, though, is my experience with student organisations. Before I moved here, I’d really made the most of all the options to study and work abroad available through the Erasmus Programme.
I volunteered for the Erasmus Student Network (ESN), which is both a student organisation that supports the Erasmus programme and the biggest European organisation of its kind. I joined ESN in Croatia, and I slowly climbed up the organisational ladder, from the local to the national level.
At one point someone asked me whether I had ever written grants. I replied: “No, but let’s try.” I applied for the position of Grants Coordinator, who is responsible for identifying costs and awarding grants. I got the position, and we managed to finance different activities and projects for the association.
Also, thanks to that experience, I found the job I had before joining Kiwi.com, which entailed leading existing projects, working on new ones, helping with grants, writing proposals and so on. It was a great experience and one which I came across almost by accident, just because someone asked me some questions about writing grants.
There is one more thing I’m extremely proud of. ESN works at three levels: local (at which projects are implemented), national (which gives inputs to local levels) and international (decision-making and so on). I was especially interested in the project that promoted mobility, and at that time the programme needed someone to coordinate it at an international level.
I was in charge of promoting the mobility programme for the whole association. I had the opportunity to carry out communication campaigns, and also one contest where we partnered with Ryanair. Young people had to submit videos on the theme “Mobility is my lifestyle” and the two best videos would win a trip.
It was an extremely enriching experience, not so much because of the opportunity itself, but because of the stress that came with it. The two winners had lots of problems during the trip, but we had to make it work, and we had to make it work well. I learnt a lot about crisis management that way… and I also gained a few grey hairs!
Overall, the whole experience taught me so much. Even in my current job, I’m still using a lot of the skills I acquired back then. It has helped especially with visuals, communication, and so on. I believe I wouldn’t be here now and I wouldn’t have my knowledge and experience if I hadn’t invested my energy and free time in being unpaid for that cause. I would urge any young person with some spare time to do the same and engage in student organisations.
Name one thing you really like about your position
I work as an Account Coordinator for the Content and Creative Team. In other words, I’m a sort of link between the other departments in Kiwi.com and the creative team.
I discuss with the other departments what they want, how and when they want it, and what the goal is. I have to ensure that the tasks are distributed across our team, the deadlines are met, and the administrative part and the reports are done properly.
I like my position because it’s a combination of many things. For one thing, you have to be quite familiar with the creative work, and you have to know how your team, the company, and the other departments work. What’s more, you often have to introduce a structure into the system. I’m the kind of person that likes everything to be in its place, on time, neatly arranged… you know what I mean! So it’s perfect for me.
It’s great that my job entails so many different tasks because when I was younger, I struggled a lot to fit into one box only. I was interested in and good at many things. When I started looking for my place in the world, I asked myself: “What am I going to do one day?” I was happy to realise that there are jobs for people who feel like they can fit many boxes at one time, and create something from all the skills they’ve gained over time.
Name one thing you dislike or struggle within your position
I don’t enjoy it when people don’t understand the work behind some of the things they request from us, or when they change their minds without really thinking about the impact it will have.
Sometimes, when I’m not sure about the reason behind the request for a change, I really want to ask the requester to think again and see if that change truly is necessary. In the creative world, asking to change something complicates everyone’s lives. So, no, sometimes I don’t like changes! [Laughs]
What department or position at Kiwi.com would you apply to if you weren’t in your current department or position?
[Laughs] I don’t know. Well, I don’t think there’s one specific position I would like to take. In general, I really want to do something where I feel like I can contribute, use my skills, and where I’m busy all the time.
I say travel, you say… ? Three things maximum
Nesting phase. When I was younger I used to travel more, I used to live with the suitcase or backpack ready to go. I’d be living here and there in different places in Europe, volunteering many years for associations, and travelling to a different city every weekend.
I’ve visited most of Europe over the years, but now I like to say that I’m going through a nesting phase. I’m happy not to have that many travel plans.
What’s your ideal means of transport when you travel and why?
Trains. Trains are the best, they’re just awesome. Firstly, they are fast — well, not the Croatian ones! Also, you don’t get sick, which you can experience when you travel by bus. And they’re comfortable and spacious.
So, yes, I like travelling by train, even though the connections to, from, or inside Croatia are not so good. I come from a small coastal city between Zadar and Split in Dalmatia. If I wanted to travel to Croatia by train, I’d have to change trains 12 times and travel for five days!
What’s one thing you love and one thing you hate about your country?
Well, I don’t like many things and that’s why I don’t live there. It’s a complicated country. The Czech Republic feels so developed and so ahead of time compared to Croatia. Companies like Kiwi.com, or start-ups in general, do not exist in Croatia.
I don’t like places where you don’t have room to grow if you don’t fit into the boxes which I mentioned previously. But we’re talking about the Balkans, after all. Many Balkan countries are EU members, but the “Balkan” approach is still there.
On the other hand, what I like about Croatia is that it’s so beautiful. It’s such a beautiful country. The waters are crystal clear, the coastline is amazing, and just some 200 km away you find high mountains, stunning forests, flat areas, national parks, rivers… you name it, you have it. Plus, within the same small country, two climates coexist: the Mediterranean on one side of the mountains, and continental on the other. It’s so interesting.
Name one place (city or country) you’ve visited, which blew your mind
Honestly, when I travel, I go home. Unfortunately, when I have some free time, I try to visit my family and friends, and I don’t go elsewhere that much. This summer I went there, and I visited Paklenica, the National Park where Mount Velebit is located.
Velebit is huge, it’s almost 1,800 metres high. There’s a huge mountain chain with a huge valley in the middle, 10 km long, and in the middle of the valley runs a river.
This summer we walked and hiked up Velebit, and it was stunning. Seeing such massive rocks right in front of you, you really get to feel how strong and powerful the mountains are. Plus, in front of you, there is the sea, crystal clear. It was so beautiful.
It was also very demanding, because the elevation was high, and it was cold. That’s when you’re fighting with yourself, and you’re angry at everything. But then you reach the top, you breathe in, breathe out, the level of stress goes down, and you just enjoy the view. You’re so grateful for everything that you’ve done. That’s one thing that’s stuck in my memory.
Name one place you haven’t visited (city or country) you believe / expect / know will blow your mind when you go there
I don’t get that feeling with places I have never been to. I don’t know where I would like to go!
Name one thing you couldn’t leave out of your luggage when travelling
Uhm, well, you know, money and passport! [Laughs] I always travel light, I only pack the basics, and I don’t care. I want to have enough money just in case I want to buy something. That and my passport. Anything else you can buy, or you just don’t need. Easy.
You have to pack up: trolley, suitcase or backpack?
Backpack, definitely. I’m a backpacker. Backpacks are heavy but, you know, it’s your problem, you have to carry it!
Do you remember the first time you travelled by plane?
Yes. I did it pretty late, I think I must have been 23, and I had to travel to Helsinki, Finland. To get there, I had to travel from Split to Zagreb, from Zagreb to Copenhagen, from Copenhagen to Oslo, and then to Helsinki!
I was so inexperienced. I didn’t know that something like Kiwi.com existed, so I bought the tickets with the only airline company that I knew of, and I had three layovers. When I got to the airport, I saw a direct flight Split–Helsinki, while my trip lasted 24 hours.
The first flight, Split–Zagreb with Croatia Airlines, only takes 25 minutes. Because it’s a short-distance flight, they don’t even have proper planes. They use small aircraft instead, almost like a bird, where you can feel everything, even the slightest turbulence. When I travelled, it was rainy and windy, and that made the trip very unpleasant. This one man was sitting next to me with his hands on the armrests, and I was so scared that I just grabbed his hand. [Laughs]
That really was a trauma, but the rest of the journey was okay. When I was supposed to travel back to Croatia, though, I used Skyscanner, and even Skyscanner suggested the same route. So I did the same thing twice!
If you could, which plane seat would you choose: window, middle, or aisle?
I like to sit next to the window, but I have a beautiful gift: when I am on a plane and it starts gaining height, I fall asleep, and I just sleep the whole time. You cannot wake me up. Then, when the plane goes back down, I wake up again and enjoy the view.
Once I had to travel to Belgium and I was flying from Zadar to Brussels. It was probably around six months after my first plane trip. I was really nervous and stressed, but then suddenly I fell asleep. When I woke up, we were almost landing!
Name one thing that annoys you when you travel
[Thinks about it] I don’t know. I mean, there are for sure many things that annoy me… I don’t like delays, of course, and… I don’t know, next question!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Once I saw my grandmother get money out of an ATM, and my theory was that there had to be a man inside the ATM, giving money out to people. I wanted to marry that guy!
Then I realised that the ATM doesn’t work that way.
I never had any big plans for the future or myself, or how I’d want to be. I’d always take it step by step, and see how and where it went. I probably had some dream jobs at some point as a child, but nothing really stuck in my head.
Where would you go if you could travel in time?
I really like New York in the early 1990s. The fashion was so nice back then. People used to dress like in movies. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time watching films with my family. We ran cinemas and video stores, and I’d watch films with my father almost every day. I was 10, maybe 12, and I remember looking at the way people were dressed, and the environment, the style really stuck in my head.
I definitely wouldn’t want to go to the future. I would go to the past, maybe for about ten days, and then I’d go back to the present.
What was your favourite school subject?
I didn’t really have a favourite school subject. For me school was always something that had to be done, so I just studied. What I liked I studied more, what I didn’t like I studied less.
For example, I wasn’t really talented when it came to maths, not because I didn’t understand it, but because I was labelled as “bad at maths” from the start. I just went along with it, and never put effort into it, so I always thought I was not good at it.
Or maybe I’m just blaming others because I didn’t want to blame myself, but I remember that in elementary school, and even in high school, I would think that maths was not something I’m good at, and I wouldn’t waste my energy on it. School was mostly about getting things done, and that was it.
The only thing I really enjoyed and liked were my university studies. I studied research sociology, which is very cool because you learn a lot about research methods and how to approach and analyse data.
In high school, I wasn’t really the best student. I skipped classes, I had bad grades, I was the “problematic” student. I think at some point I was even at risk of being expelled from the school! People felt that I was a failure, and I wasn’t going to do anything well.
Then, at some point, I realised I had to study because I didn’t want to work in a shop, it wouldn’t be a good fit for me. I had to study if I wanted to develop. I had to take that step in order to take others. So I started focusing more, studying more, and getting better grades. I knew I wanted to study sociology, so I put all my efforts into that. And I enjoyed it so much. I was one of the most active students and my grades were a bit above average.
The whole student life changed me so much. In the fifth and last year of my master’s studies, I went on Erasmus, and that was the best thing ever. After that, I joined student organisations, which was the second-best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I learnt so much by joining student organisations. It prepared me for life so much and so well, and not only in terms of intercultural understanding, but also in my work experience and meeting people. My circle of people I know is so huge that I think we could find a common friend somewhere if we tried!
I would definitely recommend anyone to go on Erasmus, and then join student organisations. They’re really cool! I’ve been on Erasmus three times, and it was a different mobility programme every time.
I studied communication in Klagenfurt, Austria, as part of the Erasmus programme. Then I went to Oulu, Finland, where I worked as an educator (teaching in high school). The course was mostly about encouraging the mutual understanding of people and culture. Then I did my Erasmus internship in Brno, Czech Republic. Once I finished it, I also did Erasmus for Entrepreneurs, also in Brno. I prolonged my mobility as much as I could.
What’s your favourite place in Brno?
It’s my bed, that’s my favourite place! [Laughs] Well, jokes aside, the most beautiful environment for me is a street just off Masarykova, close to this one bar near Capuchin Square. It’s not quite in front of the bar but if you’re standing a few steps away from it, you can see Petrov [Brno’s Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul]. You have the church there, and such beautiful architecture all around, and a couple of tourists. It’s so nice! That could be my favourite place.