European Horizons at the Prague University of Economics and Business

A Month of EuH Conversations – Kateřina Hošková
Kateřina Hošková, a native from Prague, Czech Republic, is currently serving her second term as the Executive Director at European Horizons. She had been a long-term member of our chapter during her bachelor studies of International Business and spent a year as our President. Currently, she is a graduate student at Sciences Po in Paris, France, in International Public Management, focusing on multistakeholder governance. Having put her studies on hold for a gap year, she dedicates a big part of her time to developing and advancing European Horizons. The interview was conducted by Pavla Pohanková, our Event Manager.
There are plenty of student organizations at the Faculty of International Relations at the Prague University of Economics and Business. When and why did you decide to join European Horizons? It was at the end of my second semester at the Prague University of Economics and Business. I remember the situation quite well. On the Faculty Facebook page, there was a brief post saying: “We are about to start a very new, innovative project at our faculty. It is a new Chapter of a global network of students, interested in the future of Europe and transatlantic affairs. If you would like to join, just send us an email and tell us about the reasons why you want to be a part of this international think-tank.” For some reason, I was absolutely fascinated by that post. I sent them a lengthy email explaining why I desperately wanted to join; I could feel how different this experience would be from other student organizations. A couple of weeks later, I attended their first event, which I loved, and decided to join the Chapter on the spot. What made, and still makes EuH unique is that you are not a part of a “simple” student club at your home university––it offers so much more. It is an international NGO, after all. The whole summer, while doing my internship in Warsaw, I was so nervous I could miss the opportunity of shaping the Chapter by being far away from the team. Jana (the then Chapter president) had to reassure me multiple times that they wouldn’t forget about me. So that’s how it all started. I just had the feeling that it would be cool and it has been more than that, so far. Joining EuH has been one of the best decisions of my student life.
European Horizons at the Prague University of Economics and Business
You went from being a regular member of the Prague EuH Chapter, to its President, Regional Coordinator, and finally the Executive Director of European Horizons as a whole. Can you describe the whole process and how this all happened? To be honest, it happened unexpectedly; it wasn’t my plan. In the beginning, I was a regular member in charge of events, later I became the President of the Prague Chapter and also the Regional Coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe. In 2019/2020, influenced by Jana Stehlíková, I applied to become the Director of European and Asian Chapters. I guess I must have made a good impression at the then ED, who decided to select me as her Deputy. It couldn’t have been further from my initial plans, but I saw it as a tremendous opportunity. Due to a series of unexpected circumstances, I became the Executive Director in November 2019. At the end of that academic year, I decided to reapply for this position and I was lucky, I was selected again. Frankly, I was afraid of being foolish, but I haven’t regretted it even once, thankfully. I might have also felt propelled to take up the challenge again since Prague seems to be the breeding ground for EDs. No other Chapter has been represented by Executive Directors as much as the Czech one––starting with Jana Stehlíková in 2018/2019 and then myself since 2019. Sciences Po is France’s leading university in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Could you tell us more about your studies there? I wanted to do my exchange semester at Sciences Po since the very beginning of my undergraduate studies. Again, Jana influenced me a lot during my studies and time at EuH in Prague. That is undeniable. After her own experience at Sciences Po, she knew that this school would fit me well. It wasn’t the easiest goal to reach, they offered only one spot for undergraduates which meant I had to pay quite a bit of attention to my grades. Thankfully it all worked out, and I absolutely loved my time at Sciences Po. I was thrilled by the diverse student body, a community of people striving to make a difference, and thought-provoking classes led by world-class experts. The common sense of purpose and thirst for knowledge was contagious. The environment was so different from my Prague life, and I knew I wanted to go back. Last month members of European Horizons, but also other students, took part in the Fall Policy Workshop 2020. Could you tell us more about this event from your perspective as an organizer? What was the main aim of it? Are you going to continue with something similar in the future? The Fall Policy Workshop 2020 is a brand-new conference at EuH. I created it last year, reflecting on the fact that young people see the value in policy-making and -writing and want to use those means to bring about a change. However, despite their motivations and interest in policy-making, most students don’t have the means to gain knowledge about the policy basics. So, I created this event to equip students, members and non-
European Horizons at the Prague University of Economics and Business
members alike, with the necessary skills. The idea was not only to advance ourselves in the policy landscape, but also generally to be more active citizens. I believe it will become a tradition for us to organize this kind of workshop every fall. This year’s edition was successful, and we are very pleased with the outcomes of the workshop. We can see from the feedback that participants really enjoyed it, found it beneficial, and that they acquired the necessary policy foundations they can build on now. At the same time, we could see and hear how much people felt connected to EuH, even though it was an online conference––just like everything else this year. We came up with several new ideas to make sure that this happened, for instance sending welcome packages with EuH merch, focusing on communication during the event, making smaller groups to foster communication and so on. Some people even decided to join EuH after experiencing the event, which is probably the best feedback we can get.
How has European Horizons changed for you? In what direction should we move and what should we focus on? It has evolved drastically, and I’m happy to say for the better. This is my fourth year at EuH, and the organization has really changed, I’m so excited about it. When I first joined, we used to call ourselves a think-tank focusing on events, whereas now we are true to our DNA of innovators and policy shapers and have become a real policy incubator. Policy and impact-driven approach underpin every activity we come up with. We empower young people to voice their opinions, and we believe that engaging with institutions like the European Commission is the best way to do so––for instance, we’ve sent two policy recommendations through the EC’s public consultation process just in the past four months. We have been able to cover different topics, from digital services to migration, which points out the diversity of our member base, but also our general approach to policy issues. While we choose particular policy issues at a time, our mission does not limit us to certain topics––as long as they are European or transatlantic. What is more, we have grown remarkably. Four years ago, we had Chapters only in Europe and the US; now we have 60+ Chapters, some of them being in Asia as well. We got to a point when people and other organizations, not only student-led but also international think-tanks and institutions, reach out to us and want to cooperate on policy and transatlantic projects. I want EuH to be known as the global, student-led policy incubator that is not only focused on the European Union, but has a truly transatlantic approach, having an equally strong voice on both sides of the Atlantic.
European Horizons at the Prague University of Economics and Business
How did the membership in European Horizons help you in your further career? Would you recommend other students to join this student platform? The influence of European Horizons has been tremendous. It has provided me with invaluable experiences, new skills, it has shaped my career preferences significantly. Very few organizations have shaped me as a person as much as EuH. While I’m aware that my experience might not seem relatable for some, I can assure you that my Chapter times were probably more challenging than the current situation. The novelty of it all, being the youngest at the same time, and figuring out how to do well for the greater good put me in a powerful position of discomfort. EuH provides countless opportunities to experience and exercise, among others, leadership, management, policy-making, marketing, all of it in an English-speaking international team. Those are the skills needed and sought-after by students of VŠE. The network itself is also a great advantage of EuH. With more than 1,100 members on three continents, our members can interact with so many passionate and remarkable people around the world. I have no doubts that it is worth joining a globally recognized organization, which European Horizons certainly is. Are you still in touch with the current members of the Chapter of the EuH at the Prague University of Economics and Business? I am in contact with a few people from the Chapter. Milan Kalců, Senior Treasurer on my executive team, is not only an excellent accountant, but also has become a great friend of mine throughout the years. Funnily enough, I met Milan even before my Chapter times, he recruited me as his team member at SKOK. He joined the Chapter when I was the President, and we’ve been a great support to each other since, be in at the Chapter or executive level. You might have also realized that I’ve mentioned Jana Stehlíková several times. Jana was my great supporter and mentor in Prague and I am grateful that she believed in me from the beginning. I’m also in contact with Kristína, another former member of SKOK who then joined the EuH ranks (both at the Chapter and executive level) and has taken over the presidentship after me so well. Kačka, thank you for the time and interview, I wish you all the best in further EuH and personal development.