On July 2014, which is almost a year ago now, I interviewed Marius Jones as the president of International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT) 2015. He talked about ISFiT 2015 in general and how he planned it to be. ISFiT 2015 was finally held on February 2015, and about two months after it ended, I got a chance to speak with Marius for the second time. This time he told me about his feelings after successfully finished his tasks and what he has learned during his presidency.
It is good to speak to Marius before and after the festival. I could actually feel the differences in his tone when he shared his thoughts. I remember talking to a friendly and cheerful man who was very excited to tell me about his project. Just like a man who is very excited about his upcoming trip. It’s not that he has become less friendly and cheerful now. But this time I could see him as a man who has returned from his trip and now sharing what he experienced during the trip, which has made him a wiser man.
It’s been two months now since ISFiT 2015 ended.
How do you feel?
A little different things. I think we’re all very happy with the festival and how things turned out, and I think it’s just lately that we kind of realized what actually happened. Because it’s very hard when you’re inside of ISFiT to kind of understand what’s really going on and to kind of see the big picture. So it’s nice to have this time to get away with it, so you can see it from the outside. It’s also the positive side that we’re really proud and happy with our work and I don’t think we really realized what we actually managed to do before lately. It’s a very different reality now. I mean for me, I’m not working with ISFiT anymore so it’s a very different day to day life I think, which is very strange. It feels nice that there’s not too much happening but at the same time it feels a bit empty.
I can say that ISFiT 2015 was quite successful. What’s your favorite part?
I think the opening ceremony is my favorite part.
Because for me, it was a very long journey. So for me, ISFiT was more like building an organization and I think it was first at the opening ceremony that I actually realized that we were creating a festival. Up until then it was more like we’re building something, like we were an organization trying to work and trying to get people to work together the best way, and doing all the organization work. So when the opening ceremony was finally there, I actually realized there were more people were coming to attend this festival. It was a really great moment, I think that’s my favorite part.
What has not been achieved in ISFiT 2015?
I think we managed to do most of the things that we set out. We had the goal to kind of get anti-corruption on the topic much more in Norwegian university education, which we didn’t reach out as much as we hoped for. Also, I think it’s going to be interesting to see how much we can use the result from the ISFiT Parliament and the workshops to influence, that’s the work that is still in progress and I’m really excited. It’s going to be interesting how we will send the results to the UN and World Economic Forum, that is something that we haven’t kind of achieved yet.
Do you hope that the next ISFiT will be able to achieve that?
I think we have achieved some of the things. For example, the UN and the World Economic Forum thing, like to influence them with the ISFiT Parliament is something that might happen now in the coming months when we send them the results. I think the next ISFiT will hopefully be even more on the agenda in Norway, I think than we managed to do.
How do yourself today see yourself two months ago when you were the president?
I think it’s basically the same person. I think it was a very strange experience to be the president during ISFiT. Because it was the first time in my life I actually felt a bit famous (laugh). Like people actually knew who I was, which was very new for me that doesn’t occur to me very often, doesn’t occur to me since. So I was kind of put in a very strange situation I think, like having these great speeches in front of huge audiences and having all these really clever and engaged students treating me like a famous person which was strange (laugh). So it was a very new role for me and a new experience, but it was interesting to try out.
How about yourself before ISFiT?
I think I learned a lot from ISFiT. It’s been like a journey where I had to test myself out of the comfort zone a lot of times. So I think I’ve changed a lot during the festival, and the main thing that I’ve changed is that I don’t think I take myself so seriously anymore. Because when you’re part of ISFiT, you kind of have to be so much out of the comfort zone. If you take yourself too seriously you’re bound to fail I think, because as you’re out of the comfort zone so much, you’re always doing things that you don’t know how to do, and you’re always kind of tested. At least I got used to not always managing to perform my best, because you’re always thrown out some new tasks and everyone is looking at you all the time. So you just have to kind of do your best and don’t always expect to be able to do this fluently and then learn from it. I think that’s the biggest change. I don’t think I’m very scared of stepping out of that comfort zone and trying something new these days.
I’ve learned a lot about myself from working very closely with people. Like we’ve been a group on the ISFiT Board that have got to know one another through working so closely, and that’s a great way of getting to know yourself. I mean, I have 8 people and each of them has their own perspective about who I am, how I affect them, and how I am as a leader for them. So I think I’ve learned a lot about how I affect people around me and how they see me. Where I’m standing now is that I know more about myself than I ever had, but at the same time I know that there are so much to learn about myself and how new people would perceive me, if that makes sense.
I’m sure there were challenges as a president. Is there anything you wish people knew about the challenges of being the leader?
I think the most challenging part of being the leader is that I don’t have any boss who decides what I should do. So I basically had to figure out for myself about how I should spend my time. And it’s a bunch of different expectations from people around me on what to do, what a president should be like, and how I should spend my time, and then you’re not able to fulfill all the expectation. It’s too much and then you have to choose, which means that you have to let some people down. There’s always someone that thinks I’m spending my time in the wrong way and I’m prioritizing the wrong things. They might be right and they might be wrong, I don’t know. I had to just go ahead and live with that. So the hardest part has been to kind of see all the expectations that have been there and try to prioritize on which of those I see as important and telling other people that I can’t actually meet their expectations.
When you don’t have any boss that tells you whether that was the right choice or that was the wrong choice you should do it differently, it’s hard to know whether you’re doing the right thing.
If you take yourself too seriously you’re bound to fail I think, because as you’re out of the comfort zone so much, you’re always doing things that you don’t know how to do, and you’re always kind of tested.
So after ISFiT, what’s next for Marius Jones?
I’m writing my master thesis in economics, I’ll finish it by the end of May. So I’ll soon be finished with my study, and I’ll be off to starting my first job in Deloitte as a consultant. I’ll be working with the anti-corruption there so it’s going to be a consulting business and also in the public sector about how to run a business there without having any corrupt things happening. I’m really excited.
For the last question, I’m gonna ask you the same question I asked you last year. How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I can say now that I’m not really sure. Maybe I’ll stay at the same position as I am now, maybe I’ll be somewhere totally different. I don’t know if he’ll be in Norway. Maybe yes maybe not. But hopefully I’ll still be together with my current girlfriend and we will be living somewhere in the world together That’s the thing I know I think and that’s the answer which I like.
ISFiT 2015 has created a concrete result. The participants decided not to stop to the anti-corruption movement as the ISFiT ended. They came up with a student-led organization called Anti-Corruption International whose aim is to develop innovative creative approaches to tackling corruption.
Marius Jones is also currently writing on his own blog called The Lenses of Reality. He got the name as he believes that everyone has their own way of perceiving something. So through The Lenses of Reality, he hopes to challenge the world’s view with his own perspective.
Click this link to read my last year’s interview with Marius:
Elsa Hestriana, 2015.