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Skills Labs program, created for fulfilling potential of young people, has recently taken place in five Ukrainian cities. Experts designed it to equip young people with skills needed to be successful in their career or entrepreneurship. The program is organized by the United Nations Population Fund, Centre “Corporate Social Responsibility Development” and supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine. During a 2-month training participants of the program have developed their ideas and transformed them into real business plans and strategies. Yaryna Mirko, a 17-year old activist and participant of the first Skills Labs, tells us about her impressions and her project at the Skills Labs.

  • Yaryna, you’re a student of the faculty of journalism. Besides studying, you have also organized social projects in Lviv. Why did you decide to participate in the Skills Labs?

I am here to overcome stereotypes. Everybody says that humanitarians can’t manage business, but, I’m sure, we actually can! That’s true that I used to work solely in social projects. I organized Active Weekend, festivals of active leisure and nonformal education for youth, young leader schools, cultural projects, trainings and quests. Now I want to get familiar with the business environment.

  • Did you have a concrete plan what to develop during the Skills Labs?

Throughout the last few years I have managed a number of events, and, eventually, decided that it’s time to start my own event agency. But how to do it? I had no idea what to start with. During the Skills Labs I could see real cases of business launching that proved: it’s doable, and without vast investment. Now I have clear goals and deadlines. Thanks to this program I know what to begin with and how to move forward.

  • So, what to begin with? What would you recommend for those who haven’t participated in the Skills Labs yet, but dream about their own business?

Firstly, you have to understand what exactly you want to do and what you want your product to provide people with. Having an idea is wonderful, but it must have sense. Apart from being a business, it should have some value. When you have an idea and you understand it’s value, then go for it with courage. Only by making mistakes, when we begin something new, we learn to experiment and try out alternative ways. Having such experience, it is easier to take off, to realize how to move forward. Barely sitting and analyzing won’t lead to any good results.

  • What is the value of your future business?

We will provide busy parents with time. In what way? By organizing children’s parties. There are no parents who don’t want to make their child’s special day truly unforgettable. Yet, not everybody has enough time to plan everything thoroughly. Thus, our job is to deal with all these troubles and relieve busy adults from them. For example, parents would not have to worry about a cake delivery delay, because we took care of it. All they have to do is to enjoy a wellprepared celebration.

  • You say “we”. Who are these people? Do you already have a team?

Yes, I do. We will do it together with my good friend, who has been my partner in organizing social projects. This business is our joint initiative. But, unfortunately, Ulyana could not take part in the Skills Labs, so I studied for both of us (laughs).

  • What was the biggest challenge for you, a journalist and an activist, during this program?

Regardless of my soul lingering towards human sciences, if I have to do accounting and deliver a report about a social project, I sit down and do it. Life teaches us all sorts of skills. I came to the Skills Labs having them, and made these skills more structured during the program. There is always a room for improvement and growth.


  • Which incentive for growth have you got during the program?

I like to work with people very much. Thanks to the Skills Labs I have realized that my life’s mission is to inspire others. I have already started to develop myself as a trainer, to deliver workshops on project management and soft skills. Recently I was a mentor at a youth forum and my peers addressed me as if I was older. I tried to explain that there was no age difference between us, but they did not believe me. I guess, it’s because I don’t do what teenagers of my age usually do. I do something different though: I share my experience and spark enthusiasm in their eyes. They begin to believe in themselves and believe that they can also set goals and achieve them.

  • What inspires and sparks enthusiasm in your eyes?

I am very much inspired by a highly motivated environment. There is a theory that we should divide our time for communication by three and talk with different people. One third should be dedicated to those who know less than we do; one third – to those that are on the same level of knowledge; and one third to those who know more than us. I am very excited to be with people who are passionate about something, who have measureable goals and achieve solid results. Being with them makes me full of zest to set goals high and go on. When people beside me are moving towards something bigger, I also want to grow with them.

  • Have people beside you at the Skills Labs become such a highly motivated environment?

Yes, each of them came here with some idea. It was interesting to observe how these ideas have changed during the training. At the final presentation we realized that many of our businesses could be intertwined. For example, one participant wants to launch a catering service. He could become a supplier for children’s celebrations that our event agency will organize. So it is great that, while being in one place, so many businesses could find some intersection points. After graduating from the Skills Labs we all keep connected and follow each other’s successes on social media. Particularly inspiring are those projects that got launched during the program. One of the participants started his own mobile photography course while studying at the Skills Labs. He came to the final presentation with his first results.

  • To sum up our talk, what are the benefits of participating in the Skills Labs?

Here you gain everything to fulfill your dream. Firstly, you find important instruments that are essential at the first stages. Secondly, you are in the highly motivated environment, in which people achieve results, and you also want to do the same. Thirdly, you have mentors to provide you with good advice. These are the people who have already become successful in their business, who have already taken this path. Now they are here to support you with advice and to convince that you can do it too.