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    A kissing survey flavored Brandy…

    Brandy consumption may sometimes lead to kisses. But not exactly in this case. In my case, those two references are strictly professional… Of course… Ahem…

    Let us rather start by the beginning. For years, I have had the idea of founding my own company. A communication company. Having worked as a journalist for about ten years, I had witnessed a lot of badly organized press events. The kind of event about which you would never write if you had not received a strict order from your media. And that would be the core business of my company: inventing, coordinating and organizing original events for press, instead of plain press conferences. Those events should totally involve journalists into a topic, give him live and concrete examples and raise an interest which would nearly force him to talk about it in his media.  

    But little problem. If I am well aware of the world of journalism, I did not exactly know how it worked on the other side of the fence. My “sesam open” turned out to be the program “Erasmus for young entrepreneurs”. But the look promised to be a bit different from Ali Baba’s… No babooshes, rather warm winter boots and in the plates the kabab promised to be replaced by some original dirigible-shape mashed potatoes nestling a meat preparation. Did you guess? Yes, I wanted to make my traineeship in Lithuania.

    Then came a bigger problem. There were no Lithuanian companies involved in the European program. “But you may try to find one by yourself if you really want to go there”. I wanted. First, the size of the market, not too small not too big, would be an asset to understand the way a good communication company may seduce its clients. Second, this former-soviet country currently experiences an interesting economic development. Third, I already knew Lithuania and had started to learn the language.  

    Have you ever tried to find a company and to involve it in a project which it has never heard about? Well, this is a bit like trying to flirt online. You do not know the person and you have very few time and words to be convincing. You faces sentences such as “what is our interest?”, “but nearly all our work is in Lithuanian” or “are you sure?”. In this case, the magical word appeared to be “European Commission”. And after several seducing mails and Skype exchanges, I got a date! A four-month date in fact, in one of the biggest Communication agencies in the Baltic States, VRP Hill+Knowlton in Vilnius.

    A very-accurately organized structure. There are bosses at the top. Three. Then, project directors followed by specialists and senior project managers. On the next step, you find junior project managers and finally, the trainees. Not me, but the Lithuanian-speaking trainees. Conclusion: as a trainee located at the very bottom of the “work chain”, there would be (work) blood to be able to get something to do…

    Luckily, Lithuania is currently developing a lot and very open to other markets. As their language is only spoken in the country, they need to use quite often English. Especially in the world of communication. It allowed me to take part into many different projects in VRP. From finding original waste recycling technics around the world, passing through writing invitations for an international meeting about nuclear power, proposing the best trendy-technics of partying among youth until translating proposition of contest for visitors at the Lithuanian Post Service’s stand on a fair.

    Translating has actually been my main task here. As Lithuanian language is (a little) complicated and you need (much more) than four months to master it (and even much much more to be able to write “communicably” correct with it), I could not work in Lithuanian. I was simply not able. Another step behind other trainees…Damn ;-)! But even with this (major) lack, the four month here turned out to be a very rich and profitable experience. Indeed, behind all those apparently normal tasks, I could understand the mechanisms and the basis on how a communication agency works daily: how to apply and to win contracts? How to respond to a public offer? How to be seductive to the customers? How to create long-term confidence with partners… 

    The company also benefit from my presence. Luckily, my English level was not that bad and thus I have been able to write press releases with another style. I have also been able to bring ideas different from theirs, specific creativity in some projects. This is also the richness of the meeting between two countries which have different roots and (sometimes) different way to think or to spontaneously deal with a situation.

    After this experience, I may now say that I am fully enabled to found my own company. It is a rich project that brings you much more than a work experience abroad and I would gladly encourage every young potential entrepreneur to give it a try. But I would add two simple advices. If you want to do it in Lithuania, I think you need to have (minimum) few notions of the language (that is what “saved” me as well as a deep wish to learn it and… many hours of work to try to do so). And if you want to make your traineeship in Lithuania, prepare also your best “online seducing technics” to convince a company to welcome you… At worst, it will maybe also constitute a good experience for you to truly flirt online ;-).

    Ah… yes… And you are probably wondering why then I talked about kissing survey and brandy in my title? Well, because the most original project I worked on was actually elaborating a survey about the kissing habits of Lithuanians… and that on the same day I was asked to find the most original cooking recipes that involved Brandy. When you know the usual shy character of Lithuanians in talking about their affective life, you understand that a communication company is probably the best place in Vilnius to experience an actual original kissing survey… flavored Brandy.

    Bruno SCHMITZ