A World of Opportunities
Young people from Portugal was faced with the insecurity of the jobs market and youth unemployment. For this reason, they started searching alternative opportunities and started taking part in youth exchanges, volunteering projects, international internships, trainings, among others.
All these opportunities allowed them to develop professional experience while steeping outside their comfort zone. The most relevant aspect is that all these programs are free, offer financial support and accessible to every young person living in Portugal. When the pandemic hit, the youth unemployed increased even more and this group decided to work towards improving the reality of other youngsters and the Youth Cluster became a reality.
Clusters of Opportunities
The Youth Cluster platform aims to support young people to find a project that suits their profile and objectives. The opportunities are mainly available for young people that live and/or are nationals from an European country. In order to make the platform easy to navigate, it is divided into clusters:
- Paid national and international internships that allow to start your professional path;
- Volunteering abroad for a short or long time in and outside the European Union;
- Studying abroad to improve your academic path while getting to know other cultures;
- Short term projects, such as youth exchanges and trainings from Erasmus+;
- Local projects to volunteer and have a positive impact in your community;
- Travels grants to get to know the world with a purpose;
- Entrepreneurship to start your own business.
The right opportunity for me
Each cluster is filled with opportunities, information and testimonies from other youngsters. If you’re not sure there’s a program for you in the Youth Cluster, we’ll give you some suggestions right away. Nevertheless these are just some suggestions, because the more you search, the more opportunities you will find:
- Would like to volunteer abroad in your summer vacations? Then the short term volunteering projects from the European Solidarity Corps are the best option for you. This program allows to volunteer abroad from 2 weeks to 2 months with all your costs covered.
- Do you have some free time and want to improve your community? Maybe online or local volunteering would suit you the best and we have some advise on how to find the right project for you.
- Do you want to start your own business? The Enterprise Business Network has offices and financial support all across the European Union. But, if you would like to learn from an experienced entrepreneur abroad, the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is the best solution.
- Are you ready for take part in an international internship? If you are a national form an European country and strongly believe in the European project, for sure the opportunity to work in an European institution is in your bucket list! If it is, let us tell you that there are multiple opportunities in diverse working field and we are sure you will find the right institution for your profile.
Testimonies from the team
Probably if you are still reading and did not click the link, you are not convinced, so let’s change that. These programs are very safe and our team took part in multiple of them as well as our friends, but let us tell you about our nine co-founders.
All of us already took part in an Erasmus+ Youth Exchange from Spain to Ukraine, we were a bit all over Europe learning from other young people about sustainability, theater, cultural heritage, creative writing and so on!
Three of us already took part in a volunteer project form the European Solidarity Corps. One of us was one month in North Macedonia, another eight months in Georgia and another one year in Slovenia.
The Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs was actually the experience that made us start this project and our president and vice-president both took part, the first in Malta and the second in Spain. During this experience we incubated this project before making it a reality.
A free gap year
In the Youth Cluster we want to ensure that every young person can take part in opportunities and that economic reasons are not an obstacle. For these reason, all these programs are free and offer financial support.
Some of our team members even carried a gap year by combining these different financed opportunities, which were great steps in allowing the to define their future goals and improving their professional chances. So we will leave you with two examples:
A Gap Year with 3 stops
One of them was R whom after her bachelor degree decided to take a gap year. This decision took her first to France where she did an Erasmus+ internship in the communication department of a company, while living in a local eco-friendly family. After she embraced a three week Erasmus+ Youth Exchange in Czech Republic, an experience that allowed her to support in the preparation of a summer festival. The next step in her journey took her to Hungary during four months working in a cultural institution. Not yet ready to return to her home country, she moved to the Caucasus. In a small village in Georgia she returned to carry her long term volunteering project with the European Solidarity Corps.
A Gap Year that was stopped
The other experience is from M: after her graduation she was sure to take a gap year. The first stop was in Bulgaria and after Ukraine where she took part in two short term Erasmus+ projects. Later, she took the plane to Malta where she spent six months doing an Erasmus+ internship in a museum. The next stop was Greece volunteering during four months in a center for migrants. A special connection with Malta made her decide to return and take part in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. If it wasn’t the pandemic this gap year would continue for a few more years.
Are these opportunities for me?
In case you are like us, when we listen to other people’s stories we feel fascinated and with a strong desire to pack our bags and go. At the same time we must highlight that not everything is the nice part we tell, because when applying for these programs, there is competition and, our team in the Youth Cluster does not want to hide that from you. Sometimes it is frustrating, we get many “no’s”, we apply over and over for the same program and dedicate hours writing motivation letter for opportunities that we will not get.
We have something that makes us want to continue and we know that the more we try, the more likely is for us to eventually get it! So, if you are the same, we advise you to try to take part in these opportunities and confirm if you meet this key requirements:
- National and/or resident of an European country. There are also some exceptions here, but we are not knowledgeable about programs for people from outside the EU;
- Being between 18 and 30 years old. There are some rare exceptions, as in some programs it is possible to be above and bellow this age limit;
- Having at least 2 weeks of free time for long term projects;
- Having some free time for local and online project.
We know that navigating into this new reality might be challenging. Nevertheless to find the opportunities you will have to carry research and read a lot. At the same time you can be the lucky person who finds the right opportunity right away.
Our team offers free support finding the right programs for your objectives and profile, but we are volunteers and have jobs, so it might take a while to get an answer. We ask you do carry research, because it is difficult for us to reply to general questions with no content. Feel free to contact us, be patient and try to do the search by yourself, it will help us and you a lot.
In the Youth Cluster we believe that sharing our experience is the best way to motivate and inspire others. We are constantly collecting testimonies, but our main focus is on promoting opportunities for young people living in Portugal. Therefore all the testimonies shared in our platform are all in Portuguese.
To allow our platform to become more international and able to support other European youngsters, we want to improve it. It is here where we need you and how you can contribute. If you already took part in any of the programs announced or if you have any suggestions, contact us. You can directly send a 500 words (minimum) testimony of your experience, but if you prefer, you can contact us first and wait for our reply.
We are always excited to develop new partnerships to implement international projects, so you can become our partner. We work mainly with the Erasmus+ program and would be very happy to create new partnerships, visit us here!