Perseverance, Gouvernement Internship, Blood Donation App and more with Maria Lesan
Maria Lesan is all about being a voice and learning everything she considers that helps her grow: theatre, debates, politics, economics and many more.
Maria has been involved in too many projects and activities to be listed in an introductory paragraph and keep it short at the same time.
Maria, expressing her concerns about euroscepticism, Brussels, 2019
What’s your name and age?
Maria-Carmen Leșan, 20.
Where are you from?
Bistrița, Bistrița-Năsăud county, Transylvania, Romania.
What and where do you study?
Business Information Systems at FSEGA, UBB, in Cluj-Napoca.
Tell us about what you are proud of.
I was often discouraged by people around me who sometimes told me that I am going in too many directions, and that I do unrelated things. Anyway, I always knew where I was going. I believe that each of us is put here on earth for a purpose and you feel much more valuable as a person when you set and achieve visions and goals. Discovering your vision isn’t that hard, and I started from middle school to ask myself where I see myself in 1, 3, 5 years.
In high school I wanted to improve my confidence towards my writing skills, so I participated to all Romanian Language and Literature contests that arose. I won many awards, but I happily remember about this one contest: 1st Place at S’LOVE, a creative writing contest in 11th grade. I developed an interest in journalism and I wrote articles for many online newspapers. Several opportunities to connect all my new passions have appeared – in the end, I’ve won the 1st place at the National Debate Contest “Constanța Dezbate”, and alongside my classmates, the 1st place at a national film festival held by British Council.
Maria, receiving her award at the International Geography Contest YPEF, Hungary, 2018
In high school I became a part of two theatre troupes, Helios and Corint. I’ve lived some transformational experiences. The honors that I’ve received at theatre festivals also made me proud, but the abilities that I’ve acquired through acting and the facts that now I don’t have any problems when speaking to an audience, I can have a coherent speech, I can coordinate my gestures with what I want to communicate and I’m not afraid of “being in the spotlight” – these are the things that I will keep with me during my entire life.
When I finished high school, after all the ups and downs, after the wide range of activities I did, I felt like I was unstoppable. I felt that I took full advantage of my high school years, through activities, contests, volunteering, art projects and training courses.
Artistic moment, graduation ceremony, 2018
During my first year as an undergrad, 2019, through Europe Direct, I’ve been chosen to be one of the 8 students representing our country in Brussels, in a series of events promoting the European Parliament elections. Thus, I’ve become an European Multiplier (young people who can organize informative events locally with the support of Europe Direct or independently), I’ve lived special experiences, I’ve organized big events and I’ve been involved in courses and conferences in Brussels, Vienne and Bratislava, which helped me improve my teamwork and communication skills, but also developed my knowledge on public policies, the history of EU, and EU Institutions.
Maria, European Multiplier, participating in volunteer activities at Europe Direct Bistrița
Group photo, Bratislava, participating at international conferences about EU Enlargement.
Group photo, Brussels, together with other future European Multipliers, at the training sessions.
At the end of the first year of University, I’ve been accepted as an intern in the Romanian Government’s Official Internship Programme, within the National Commission of Strategy and Prognosis (CNSP). For two months, I had the chance of seeing what is behind the curtains, behind what the mass-media delivers us. During the second year of University I’ve been focused on professional aspects. At the begging of the year I’ve decided that I was going to study programming like I’ve never had. I’ve succeeded in acing all the hard programming exams (even though I hadn’t been studying programming prior). After that I’ve decided to follow an internship in an IT company form Cluj-Napoca, internship that brought me a lot of satisfaction. I was much more than delighted to observe, day by day, how much I was enjoying what I was doing. This was followed by my latest achievement and probably the most important to me so far, winning the 2nd place at the UBB Hacks for Good Hackathon. The experience was so meaningful that, for me, the success was maximized anyway. I think writing 100 pages wouldn’t be enough for me to describe and tell how much I learned about myself, others, the importance of those supporting me, about business and mobile apps, about databases, severs, UX design, marketing, communication and work efficiency, in those 9 months during which I’ve been involved in this project.
What is the common trait/skill that helped you achieve all of these?
I’m sure that perseverance (continuous efforts and determination) is the common trait that helped me achieve all of these. Perseverance is more than just a word that we hear so often when stories about success are being told. To me, perseverance is accompanied by vision. Perseverance can help us in every aspect of life and represents a quality that rewards us constantly. I may not be the most talented nor the smartest person in the room, in a contest, in a company, but I will try to be the toughest, the one who doesn’t give up, the one who dares to dream. Perseverance taught me other important lesson: love the process. Perseverance doesn’t guarantee that you the 1st place, but your work and what you learn along represent the true reward. This is where appears the importance of putting consistent effort into the desired direction and prioritization. I believe that the seeds of our desires exist within us with a purpose, and that we should try to fructify every experience that is close to our soul. That’s how we will reach fulfillment.
What are the other qualities, abilities, skills that helped you achieve these achievements?
Being an enthusiast is something characteristic about me. I never believed that there was something that I couldn’t be able to do. I think that without enthusiasm life is boring. Being an organized person is also one of my traits. Setting short- and long-term objectives is essential. I like to know with anticipation what I have planned to do every single day, what I work on or what target I want to hit. When it comes to being organized, especially during stressful periods of time, I like to make flowcharts, so I schedule in time all my projects and daily studying. Another ability that I believe meant a lot over the time and about which I read and studied a lot is communication: sending messages, preparing successful presentations, active reception, giving feedback, motivating others, expressing emotions.
Maria, promoting the European Parliamentary Elections, Lechința, 2019.
How and when did you discover your qualities? By doing what? How do you improve/train them?
I consider that I trained all the qualities that I have talked about. I can identify precise moments in time during which I discovered my inclinations. By reading different books I realized what I resonate with and insisted on training those ones. I didn’t act because I wanted to become an actress or to have an extra hobby, but because I knew from beginning what abilities I want to train. I didn’t take part in writing and literature contests in order to become a writer, but because I was trying to learn how to communicate better, how to express my creativity. I recommend taking notes. I read all my notes, from all my books about communication before a presentation, as it helps me planning it and levels up the game. That’s when you really understand those books, when you actually need them. I think the first step is to imagine what you want to become, how you want to be, how do you want to leave your mark. Then, you have to work on these aspects through every way possible, learn theory from books and practice in real life situations.
How was it being an intern in the Romanian Government?
One word: wonderful. I applied with a lot of skepticism due to the fact that I thought high connections were needed to get the internship. There were 200 available places and about 2000 applicants. I knew 2 girls who also participated; I met them in Brussels, they were also European Multipliers. They encouraged me to apply. In a short time, I would go through all the tests, the essays that had to be noted by the jury, the interview. Everything happened very quickly and I found myself signing the internship contract, moving to Bucharest and having a new horizon in front of my eyes. I had heard many good things, but it seemed propaganda to me. I thought I was going to run into people who didn’t know what they were doing, a bad schedule, slavery, that they were going to make me count files or carry envelopes all day. The reality was different. It was a wonderful experience. I used to go to the CNSP (National Commission for Strategy and Prognosis) office every day, full of joy. I learned a lot and I didn’t have time to get bored, not even for a second. I came across professionals and people that totally knew what they were doing. I learned more economics there than in all my college subjects. I saw that everything I had studied in my first year of college was applicable and useful. All the microeconomics and macroeconomics that seemed just theoretical would take on a new meaning under the explanations of people from different departments at CNSP and especially under the guidance of my coordinator. I think it also seemed strange to them when they saw how enthusiastic I was. I was just very grateful for this opportunity. This Internship, in addition to the experience you gain as a part of the institution to which you are assigned, it offers the opportunity to participate in a series of extra events that have the role of amplifying our understanding of a country’s leadership and institutions. I’ve participated in events at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa, the Embassy of the State of Kuwait. In fact, I visited most ministries and agencies. I participated in simulations of Government meetings and events with the Royal House of Romania. I used my free time to visit the art museums, the Parliament, to go to ‘outside the program’ parties and to see all the important parks and tourist attractions. I especially liked the George Enescu National Museum, the Cotroceni Palace, the Parliament Palace and the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
At the end of the Official Internship Program of the Romanian Government, 2019.
What did you learn?
The whole experience at this internship taught me that we have a lot of capable people in important positions that no one talks about. I certainly learned a lot about economics, and a lot about the Romanian state. But I also learned that such an experience only becomes wonderful if that is what you actually want. There were also colleagues from other institutions who always complained about the program or the activities they were accepted to, or some were constantly bored. But who stops us from taking the best from wherever we go? I was able to see all the good sides in everything and enjoy every day, live all the experiences offered, as well as enjoy the presence of all the people I’ve met. After I’ve done lots and lots of economic analysis at the office, I eventually realized which was the most important analysis of all - the perspective of life, and how much it changes our view towards the experiences we live.
Is it an experience that you would recommend?
Tell us more about BloodLinked. Who, why and how? What are your expectations?
Bloodlinked is the application that we (Alexandra, Cristi, Ștefan and Gabi) developed during the UBB Hacks For Good Hackathon. It all started with a presentation of ideas and the choice of team members. I presented my idea in front of approx. 100 people and then they joined the ideas that attracted them. I had incredible luck and a very good intuition when choosing the people that would later join me. I can say that I worked with professionals. Everything went swimmingly, and their involvement was commendable. Bloodlinked would become a reality because of our teamwork. And we did a great job, which I’m very proud of.
I took care of organizing the team, prioritizing the objectives and maintaining a clear vision about Bloodlinked. I am passionate about technological innovation, UX Design, Leadership, Business Intelligence and Project Management. From the moment I proposed the idea of this app, I’ve wanted it to have a successful route. I strongly believe in this project even now. I am glad that I had the chance to test my skills under pressure and that I found in my colleagues a strong desire to materialize what was originally just an idea.
In this Hackathon I wanted to come up with an ambitious idea that would address an important issue, with a real impact on the lives of Romanians. The problem we are addressing is the lack of blood in hospitals. Reserves are very low or non-existent, and operations are delayed and many lives are endangered. We believe that we can interconnect all the factors involved in the blood transfusion circle in Romania and thus, creating a solid community, determine people to get more involved. By creating a modern ecosystem (by digitally implementing donor cards and filling in online forms) we want to initiate and maintain a culture of blood donation. With Bloodlinked, patients or CTSs can post requests with blood needs so that donors or the community have a better view of the severity of the situation and thus empathize more and take action. Bloodlinked is a gift to the society in which we live. For us, this mobile application means a simpler, more efficient and more secure future.
List 3 books that you think everyone should read and summarize why they should do it. (for example: you can mention themes, what you learnt from them, what impressed you)
Deep Work - by Cal Newport, on how to become a master of concentration, uninterrupted study, and how to deliver quality output and increase your productivity. The author emphasizes the importance of distancing from social media and the existence of a flow zone found in deep concentration, which maximizes creativity and the quality of ideas and work. Deep Work is the superpower of the century.
Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman - a “bible” of emotional intelligence that helps you to better understand others and analyze your reactions. The book goes through all the aspects of life and, through studies, presents the enormous weight of Emotional Intelligence in relationships, business, school performance, health, family life, childhood. Everything is scientifically proved, including the neurology of emotions and offers practical techniques for control and analysis. Emotional Intelligence can be cultivated and I think it is an exceptional book.
TED TALKS The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson. I have read many books about communication, but I think this one is special because of its topicality. For a successful presentation, prepared from the text and to the smallest details of ambiance and decor, gestures and clothing, you should see this book. I thought it was an excellent textbook, which I read in parallel with “How to Speak in Public?” by Dale Carnegie. These books are behind my last outstanding presentations.
Can you give me a quote / a message for our readers to inspire them?
I want to share a quote from Brendon Burchard, a role model and an exceptional speaker. He often emphasizes in his presentations the importance of having a strong phrase, a prayer, that we should always keep in mind to keep us afloat: “Give me the strength to focus this week, to be mindful and present, to serve with excellence and to be a force of love. I am going to role model the energy I wish the world had.” However, my favorite quote is: “Always believe in your ability to figure things out. You can learn and you will make it through.” And my favorite piece of advice is, “Stay close to people who feel like sunlight.”