21st century soft skills - the story of LifeVersity

Find out more about what LifeVersity offers, how it started, and its future
Alexander Santos Lima

Back in January of 2019, Matt Hrusc was a student at EUR with an idea- he wanted to provide students with access to soft skills that are often missing from the traditional classroom experience. Since then, he established a public speaking pilot with support from the Community for Learning & Innovation (CLI), and more specifically Students for Students (S4S), which later turned into what is now known as LifeVersity. In this interview, Matt discusses the origins of LifeVersity, its future, and advice for other students that are interested in starting their own initiative on campus.

The start of LifeVersity

Looking back all the way to January 2019, Matt had an idea he wanted to put into action- he wanted to provide public speaking courses for students just like him. Just like him, many students Matt spoke to wanted to develop their skills, specifically their soft skills, also outside the traditional classroom environment. 

Entrance of the Erasmus Education Lab & Studio
CLI - Alexander Santos Lima

He started this pilot as he felt it was a useful life skill that students at EUR lacked access to- so he approached Students for Students (S4S), the student-run branch of CLI that focuses on supporting student-led initiatives on campus. “From the public speaking pilot in January, we added four more courses to the pilot with the help of S4S, and by October, we had double the number of sign-ups as we did spots available”, mentions Matt. From this pilot, LifeVersity became officially established in the beginning of 2020. “The support from the CLI, and more specifically S4S, was essential in getting LifeVersity to more than just the pilot stage- to hire student assistants, gain access to more trainers, and allow me to work as a project manager for LifeVersity”, Matt explains.

What LifeVersity does

From this, LifeVersity has now developed to offering more than twenty courses, from subjects such as productivity and time management to negotiation and leadership- with their public speaking academy still remaining a favourite. “We focus our courses on distributive learning, meaning that we do them over the course of three to six weeks in order for people to practice these skills and build habits- not just engage with them for a couple of days and leave them behind”, explains Matt. Within the LifeVersity courses, they also apply the 80/20 rule; eighty percent of their class is activity based, and only twenty percent is theory based. Matt says this is crucial for something such as soft skills, and also to keep students engaged, as they are usually overwhelmed by theoretical concepts from their studies.

Lessons learnt 

Going now into the fifth year of LifeVersity, Matt shared some of the most important lessons he took away from being involved in such an initiative. “Firstly, it is very important to create a shared vision with the team you are working with, and not just follow one person. You want to work with people who are passionate about the project as much as you are, and have intrinsic motivation to keep it going”, says Matt. Secondly, he also emphasized the importance of feedback- after each LifeVersity course, students are asked to share their feedback. “We look at every course evaluation and and take it into account- if the feedback is generally balanced, it probably means the course is doing well- if the feedback is one sided, it means maybe the course needs some improvement”, explains Matt. Finally, another lesson Matt learnt is that when you are passionate about a topic, it is easy to explain and want to talk about it for hours, which does not make for a great two-way learning experience between a trainer and a student. That is why he wants the trainers of LifeVersity workshop to also assume the role of a facilitator of experience- to let the students make the discoveries and get as excited as the trainer about the topics they work on.

"It is very important to create a shared vision with the team you are working with, and not just follow one person."

Advice for other students with bright ideas

Looking back on his experiences, Matt has some advice for other students that are maybe considering starting their own initiative on campus. “First, before anything, I would ask ten or so students- very importantly not your friends! - what they think of the idea that you have. Testing your assumptions is crucial, and you want to know whether people would be interested in your idea”, says Matt. After this, Matt recommends reaching out to S4S, as they can help you through the whole process- to formulating your idea all the way to getting it off the ground and giving you the relevant help to make your idea a reality. 

Alexander Santos Lima

What the future holds for LifeVersity

Up until now, LifeVersity has continued to be a CLI project, and an initiative that has been supported by S4S. But starting from January 2024, LifeVersity will become an academic start-up operating under the Erasmus Business & Research Support (ERBS). The goal of this organizational change is to be able to provide LifeVersity courses not only to EUR students, but any people that want to develop these skills. “We want to become a social enterprise, meaning that we aim to use a certain percentage of our profit to provide free trainings for people that need these skills, but would otherwise not have access to them- we believe this business model will help democratize access to these crucial skills”, explains Matt.

Even with this organizational shift, the offering of LifeVersity and the access that EUR students have to it will not change, so no need to fear about that! LifeVersity is consistently adding new courses and taking student feedback into account. You can see all of their courses and sign up here!

More information

If you are a student with an idea or initiative that you would like to pursue, feel free to reach out to S4S here!

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes