It is a question I get asked a lot – What is AIESEC? My family and friends see me spending so much of my time involved in this organisation, so they are constantly curious as to what it is. Unfortunately, it is not an easy question to answer.
AIESEC is the largest youth-run organisation in the world, operating in over 110 countries and territories. “Focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development, AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to participate in international internships, experience leadership and participate in a global learning environment.” 1 This definition does not do justice to the reach of the organisation, but it is a good starting point…
So what is my role within AIESEC? I am the Director of Business Development at AIESEC in the University of Queensland. In short, it is my job to liaise with local external businesses to negotiate internships or sponsorships. I am fortunate enough to be leading our team of Business Development Officers. We are provided with hands-on experience in the business world that we simply would not be otherwise able to have while at university. It’s definitely not always easy, but it is an incredible learning experience. I have gained so many skills already – whether it be regarding sales, leadership, networking, professionalism, negotiation, recruitment…
One part of my role is to attend AIESEC conferences. AIESEC facilitates over 500 conferences annually to connect ‘AIESECers’ from around the globe. In the last three months, I have attended conferences in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. In fact, my most recent conference was just last week at AIESEC Queensland’s annual state conference! I had a fantastic time, gaining more knowledge and strengthening my friendships with other people in the region.
A lot of people, who are not in AIESEC, ask me why I give up so much of my time to volunteer for it. It is pretty simple – AIESEC changes lives. I know it’s very cliché, but it’s true. It has changed my life by giving me the aforementioned opportunities to expand my skill set and make new friends (not forgetting that I met my darling boyfriend through AIESEC!)… but it has also given me the chance to change other people’s lives by working to provide internship opportunities for young people internationally. There is simply no way I would let an experience like this pass me by!
AIESEC is not your average student society… And the moral of this story is that, if you’re at university and you’re looking to get more than just a degree, get involved with AIESEC!
1 AIESEC International, About AIESEC, http://www.aiesec.org/cms/aiesec/AI/about/index.html