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Finding My Next Professional Step Through YTILI

Written by: Christina Athanasopoulou, Finland, 2017 YTILI Fellow

Placement City: Boston, MA

Christina Athanasopoulou is a healthcare and education specialist with 15 years of experience in clinical practice, teaching and research. She is passionate about supporting, educating and empowering people about health through technology. In 2017, Christina was selected as a YTILI fellow from Finland for her venture, Knowledge Unicorn, which aimed to simplify research results via online infographics and videos. She holds a PhD in Health Sciences from the University of Turku in Finland.

Finding My Next Professional Step Through YTILI 

I found the YTILI opportunity serendipitously on social media. At the time, I was finalizing my PhD studies and thinking about my next professional step. I knew in my heart that academic work can advance our society; however, I also felt that I needed to do something less theoretical and more practical. During the four years prior to my YTILI Fellowship, I had been involved in various entrepreneurship events in Finland. I had created a business plan about connecting health-related research with the average citizen. My goal was to empower everyone to understand science and apply it to their health-related decisions. However, I wasn’t sure if my idea would be feasible. YTILI seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about entrepreneurship, meet other business leaders and innovators, and assess the viability of my business plan; I decided to apply right away.

YTILI Fellows near statue in Boston, MAI learned so much through my YTILI experience. The 3-day orientation in Washington, D.C. and my fellowship placement at Patients Like Me in Boston, MA, helped me develop valuable business skills and became more confident about my entrepreneurial journey. The experience of living and working in the U.S. and meeting other entrepreneurs led me to start my company, Knowledge Unicorn. Thanks to the YTILI program, I have access to a network of European leaders and American mentors. The members of this network support each other through our online groups, emails, and social media posts, and grow together no matter the geographical distance. This is an invaluable gift.

Collage of photos of YTILI Fellow at host organizations in the U.S.I recommend YTILI to anyone who wants to experience a unique program that provides young entrepreneurs with the opportunity to 1) visit the U.S. and be exposed to its entrepreneurial ecosystems; 2) develop valuable business tools, networks, and resources to grow their enterprises; 3) connect with mentors, entrepreneurs, innovators, companies and organizations from across Europe and the U.S, in order to build a transatlantic network and strengthen the transatlantic relationship; and 4) grow as a young leader and as a person.

What should you do if you get accepted as a YTILI Fellow? Research companies and professionals you would like to visit or meet beforehand! However, it is also important to start your YTILI experience with an open heart -- be authentic, and speak up, because you never know what magical surprise is waiting for you. I mention this from personal experience. During the orientation in Washington, D.C., we had a discussion about business coaches, and although nobody asked me, I raised my hand and said that I admire Tony Robbins very much and that I recommend other YTILI Fellows to learn more about him. Do you know what happened? One week later, I met Tony Robbins at an event in Boston, my placement city.  

Be positive, grateful, with a clear mission and plan, and you might be the new addition to our incredible YTILI community!

Christina’s LinkedIn:

Knowledge Unicorn:

Patients Like Me: