Today I had the pleasure to participate in another World Chicago alumni’s event. Marko and Teja, who were in Chicago a few years before me, prepared an amazing workshop named “Scaling up and breaking down: the startup guide to management using Design Thinking”.

ABC accelerator in Ljubljana
ABC accelerator in Ljubljana
Our lovely event host — ABC accelerator in Ljubljana

Now, I’ve never attended an entire event dedicated to design thinking. I’ve read about it, I’ve heard about it, I even implemented it — but I never approached it as a skill to be learned. My mistake.

Our first lecturer, professor Blaž Zupan from the University of Ljubljana, kicked things off with a bang:

“Understand the problem before looking for solutions.”

We are wired to jump to fix things before understanding them completely, which is an energy that can be put to work. …

All foreign, all fun

I usually prefer the term “conference” to “congress”. It sounds more inclusive — but it’s often misleading, since conferences are, by and large, boring things that I go to because I want to hear one panelist out of 7 and I know there’s going to be free food and swag.

Free food is the best food

No offence to the other 6 panelists and everybody else.

When I learned that the last week of our professional fellowship in the USA was going to happen in Washington, I was thrilled. …

Washington DC at a glance

You know the fellows? If you don’t, you’ve obviously been ignoring my previous blogs. I’ve done like 15, and they’re all talking about me and my friends, discussing our experiences in the USA and our lives as professional exchange fellows.

Follow the fellows down the stairs of Lincoln Memorial

We’re a group of 15 entrepreneurial individuals from 4 Balkan countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina (that’s me), Croatia, Macedonia (North Macedonia? I can’t keep up) and Slovenia. An organization called World Chicago picked us and brought us to (surprise!) Chicago, where we were given jobs at host companies. …

With no tears, no fears and no regrets

We had to wave Chicago goodbye.

One of my last views of Chicago — in front of Field Museum

It was inevitable. The World Chicago Professional Fellows program lasts 4 weeks, and ours were up yesterday. We actually got a bit more than we should have — 4 whole weekends, 30 full days. And somehow, that just wasn’t enough.

When we first started on this journey, we were virtual strangers. We knew only the basic things about each other, and we were determined to change that. We went out together, we shared experiences from working with our professional hosts, we dealt with the culture shock together. …

Before 2018, I had never spent extended periods of time in all-female groups. In tech, there is a dominance of men, and I never went to an all-girl school or anything similar. This year, though, I’ve started actively involving myself with women empowerment organizations back home (Business on heels, Virtual women’s entrepreneurship center) and abroad. I spent a weekend at the Vimal Holistic Center with 30 women and no meat (I was very close to eating the dog at one point) and last week I got to spend a shorter amount of time with a much larger group.

Women Tech Founders — Awards night

For those…

Beginnings are hard, but how you deal with them is a matter of the right environment.

Every change can be a bit of a shock to the system.

I applied for a World Chicago fellowship because I enjoy being rattled out of my routine. Back home in Banja Luka, I work as an account manager at an amazing up-and-coming IT company called WaySeven Technologies — I joined them over a year ago, and I love every aspect of my job. …

Cultural acceptance can only take you so far

Everybody is different. We should celebrate our differences, learn from them, establish ideas and embrace change as it happens.

Nothing says “different” like rainbow unicorn gender-bender Deadpool

Now, I’m new to Chicago. New to the USA in general — I only got here 3 weeks ago (it fells like a few days) for a professional fellow exchange organized by World Chicago. I have 14 fellow fellows from the Balkans — we’ve all been assigned host organizations and companies that we are working with, bringing in our own unique experiences and learning about business in the local ecosystems.

My host company is Holistic Index. It’s a startup, founded by…

Ellen Rogin can make the impossible probable — and so can you

What is prosperity?

Many would say wealth, riches, something connected with money. However, it’s more than that. It has a lot of different meanings for people — but it’s something we all strive to achieve, one way or the other.

The fellows of World Chicago got a chance to hear from Ellen Rogin today. An expert on deliberate daydreaming, she took us on a journey into our own minds, helping map out what we thought mattered in a way that opened our eyes.

The fellows (minus Erduan) with Ellen Rogin (I am the tiny creature in the back row)

The fellows, in case you’ve been ignoring all my previous blogs (for shame) are a group of…

Las Vegas may be the best business school in the world

I’m in the USA for the first time of my life. I’m not here as a tourist — I am a professional fellow on exchange, brought to Chicago by World Chicago and hosted by Holistic Index. I am not here strictly to sight-see and have a good time — I am here to work, learn, spread my own brand of knowledge (like teaching people how to pronounce my name) and experience the professional ecosystem to the fullest.

Well, guess what? It has all been overwhelmed by my trip to Las Vegas.

It’s a sign!

I wasn’t there a long time — 48 hours…

Mid-way through the World Chicago fellowship

I am a Fellow. For those who do not know what that means, the professional fellows exchange program was made by the State Department, and my chosen one is headed by an organization called World Chicago. 15 professionals in the entrepreneurship and tech sectors are chosen to go from their home countries in the Balkans to Chicago for a 4-week fellowship, followed by a week in Washington to show off our experiences.

Bean there, done that — some of the brave fellows on the first freezing Friday (from left to right: Erduan, me, Anja, Primoz, Natasa, Simon, Milana and Ivana)

Today marks exactly 14 days of my life in Chicago. My fellow fellows and I arrived on Thursday evening, and had our first encounters with the city on…

Maja Jovičić

Former professional fellow on exchange in Chicago — ongoing tale of embracing diversity, finding the best food and learning new things.

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