Living Book Day

The "Living Book Day" organized by UNIPort - the career advisory body at the University of Vienna -- turned the beautiful reading room of the University of Vienna Library into a exciting venue of exchange.

Sixty six personalities from different fields -ranging from chief executives, the heads of human resources departments, journalists, professors, marketing directors, film producers, and also representatives from the United Nations - were ready to act as living books telling students in a 25-minute one-on-one "speed-date" about their profession and experiences in life - what they achieved and how, where they came from and how they got there.

From 4 p.m. till 7.30 p.m. the "Living Books" were available for rent and there was a great rush in the entrance room where about 500 Students were waiting to speak to their most favoured books.

The books covered all fields, from the world of education, the media, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and also big businesses like the Austrian railways, the ÖBB, or the Austrian petrol giant, OMV, as well as the cosmetic company L'Oreal and the telephone giant, T-Mobil.

The experiences and the different steps in life which led each Living Book to their current position were meant to give the students hope for the future and help them understand the different creative options they have in life. It was not primarily about what steps would lead to the right career but more to increase understanding about the different paths in life.

Many students, notably those at the end of their studies and already writing their theses felt this was the perfect opportunity to finally see a different perspective than the lecture rooms and get a glimpse of real working life. They were also anxious to know what options they have and what chances they could take, for example if it were wise to join a big company or to try to start one's own business. This was a perfect place to get to know interesting people and be able to engage with them in a personal dialogue.

While students may have been the ones benefiting from the short encounters, it was also obvious from the enthusiasm of each Living Book and their willingness to be lent out again and again that they enjoyed the event as much as their "readers" if not more.

Janos Tisovszky and Irene Hoeglinger-Neiva - the Living Books from the United Nations Information Service, Vienna - were fully booked throughout the four hours, with students coming to them even in the breaks to ask about the different career paths and possibilities at the UN. Students were especially interested to find out how Irene and Janos joined the Organization, their career paths in the UN and in turn wanted to know what they have to do to get there.

Many students from communication science were very keen to understand how UN communication works and many of them were indeed encouraged to apply and join UNIS as interns in order to understand how the UN works from the inside.