EU4EU Host Organization experience during Covid: Instituto iKigai


Rome, 12 May 2021

The EU4EU Programme began six years ago to offer young students from European universities the opportunity to kick start their professional career by carrying out an internship abroad and thus, help host organizations grow internationally.

Today’s guest is Zaira Villalba, CEO at Instituto iKigai, in Zaragoza, Spain. “We are a recently created NGO, and it’s only been a year since we started.” Zaira states. “We are three associates and what we do mostly is creating and managing European projects, in addition to offering training courses; all with a very social nature. All the courses are directed to people with special needs, women excluded socially and others vulnerable groups. At the moment, we have three on-going projects: the first is destined for women, the second has been created to combine cultural themes with technology for youngsters, and the third one is directed to immigrants; we just had our first international meeting to start off this project”, she continues.

When they search for a trainee, an essential requirement is that “the candidate must be able to speak English and Spanish, as they are the languages in which we work. All the project writings and partner contacting is also done in English. When we select a trainee, sometimes, it’s themselves who contacted us spontaneously; other times, we see a profile on the web that matches the best to the criteria we are searching for, or that it catches our attention and would bring more depth to what we are working on. For example, one of our current trainees caught my attention because she is half Irish and living in France, that gives her a profile with two mother tongues, therefore, she is wonderful for us. In addition, we are also involved in European projects that haven’t been done in Spain, and it is interesting to find and work with people who have knowledge in those fields,” Zaira says.

When we asked about trainee’s daily tasks, Zaira answered that “anybody who comes to work with us will write a project. Since we are a dynamic, small, and especially a social organization, we entrust them with tasks from the beginning to the end of a project. The trainee can thus see the whole process of writing up a project under our supervision and support. He will, by himself, search for his own partners and present his project. Also he will collaborate with us on our ongoing projects and present the projects to other partners that we already have. I think it’s a great opportunity and the trainees also appreciated it.” She affirms.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year, they had to start working remotely. From 2021 iKigai decided to work in presence again, and to do that “we rented a bigger office to have more space. What we also did was having ventilation especially in the common areas, we also worked in smaller and designated groups, we would only take of our mask if the our personal space is big enough to do so, otherwise, if our table is too close one to each other or if we were working in groups to discuss a theme, we kept the mask on throughout the day.”

Regarding their experience with EU4EU Portal, she commented that it is very intuitive and simple to use. Zaira and all the iKigai team liked the feature where you could contact the people of the institution in case of need to make changes to the relevant documents. She said that the communication with EuGen/EU4EU was very fast, good and very kind; she recommends the EU4EU Programme a hundred percent.