Challenging Myself

By Anita Zivkovic, President of AIESEC in Austria for the term 2016-2017, having started her AIESEC journey in Belgrade, Serbia in 2011.


Change is not always a good thing, but it can be even better. I’ve always believed that every change is there to teach us something new and to expand ourselves. Whenever I feel comfortable in one place, life is always bringing new environments and new lessons to learn and develop with.

Being part of AIESEC for five years has been an amazing experience. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different countries, different backgrounds, but with the same vision for the future: a future of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential. In the last five years I had the chance to work in eight different positions — this is my eighth. I even changed city and country. Whenever I look back at my career in AIESEC, I start using this metaphor that AIESEC is as if you would have your life on fast-forward mode on TV.

When I joined, back in 2011, I was starting my second year of studies. I didn’t have much knowledge or working experience, but throughout the last few years, I went from having no experience, to going on business meetings with different companies, even having meetings in different languages. I was even project manager of an event with people from 120 different countries, which was very challenging. In just six months, I learned a lot about project management, budgeting, making agendas for events, keeping in mind logistics of an event, and how to make sure that everything is professional and in place for 20 000 visitors in my city’s biggest shopping mall. And then I realized that after gaining the knowledge in project management, since I was still studying, I could now actually better understand what the textbooks in my economics class trying to explain to us, how to use Gantt chart and other tools – because I had actually tried them in real life as well.

Since AIESEC is a platform, and it is providing opportunities for people who are willing to challenge themselves, I decided that I could still improve working with people and that I would really like to see the combination of organizing people, making sure that they are satisfied, and having them in the right place for organization, so I applied for a position in Human Resources. For two years I was working in this area – first on the local level and then leading this area nationally in an organization of 800 people. Wow! I was directly responsible for their experiences. I was actually working with people who were there to develop themselves through developing others – and I was responsible.

Afterwards, I decided that I was challenging myself, but two years in same area and working in the same country where people have similar mindsets was starting to become my comfort zone. I’ve met amazing people and through their progress in the organization and their stories, I was very happy to also see my personal progress. I was working, then failing, then trying again and then succeeding again.

I applied for a completely different country with a totally different mindset. I wanted to challenge myself and to see what my contribution would be there, how I could develop others and what I could learn about others and myself.

And here I am now. Being a CEO in a different country, developing an organization and the people in it. Trying, tying, trying, failing, failing, trying and succeeding and then everything all over again.

AIESEC is a platform. It gives you an opportunity, and you can decide to change something, to challenge yourself and to see where will you end up. To learn, but to learn with the real resources, real people, real time. To learn from others and to develop them. I have the incredible privilege to work in a team with people from 5 different countries, to learn together with them and to develop them on their journey.

AIESEC has challenged me for five years. Every time I felt comfortable, a new opportunity popped up, and I decided to take it. What about you?

A Roaming Soul

‘’What are the stories you haven’t yet lived to tell?’’

That question was written on a wall in one of the busiest streets of Athens that I used to walk to reach my university. I saw it one morning almost five years ago, and it really bothered my train of thought.

I had just entered university, after trying very hard with my school exams, and I was supposed to spend the next five years focusing on my studies, taking my degree and finding a job, like any respectable student in Greece should do.  

One day though, two girls entered the classroom promoting a youth organization called AIESEC and specifically they invited us to participate in their Global Volunteer program this semester, and go work abroad on social projects for 6 weeks.

The question I told you earlier popped in my mind and immediately they had my attention. My friend Stefanos and I, went afterwards in their office, we got the basic info, and just like that, one month from that day, we were in Serbia, working on social business projects and career orientation for students that had just finished university there.

We spent almost two months in a foreign country, living alone at 19, discovering independency, new people, new cultures and most importantly, ourselves, while contributing to a better cause and supporting students in Serbia to go after their dreams and start their own business and career. Definitely a story worth being told, don’t you agree?

Coming back, I was curious about the organization, so I asked those two girls that had just given me the opportunity to live an amazing experience, what else I could do while I was back in Greece?

Well, not to take you now through the entire journey I had in AIESEC, but I started by being a team leader of a team that worked to create those kinds of social projects in Greece, and somehow ended up four years later as a team leader again. But this time, leading the national team of the entire organization in Greece. And in order to close the circle in AIESEC, after finishing that, I went abroad again, in a social project supporting refugee integration in Austria, where I am currently.

I am now 23, and I’ve spent the last five years not being an ordinary, and definitely not an average, student. I travelled the world (literally), created a huge network of people that somehow I know they will be there for me, put into practice what I learned in the university and learned more by doing, equipped myself with soft and hard skills and actively contributed in making the world a better place.

And you know what the best part of it was? I know who I am. I know what I value, what I am passionate about, what makes me get out of bed and work my butt off, what I believe in, and I’ve created a path of discovering what I want to do in my life.

So I will leave you with the same question that sparked thoughts and actions to me that day, only hoping it will do the same for you.

What are the stories you haven’t yet lived to tell?

By Renata Pylarinou

Solution-orientedness is not just for your resume

By now most of us have realized it it is not enough anymore just to make it out of university with above average grades and a warm recommendation from a professor who you kind of seemed to get on well with. The job market wants you to be so much more. Summer internships at prestigious company A, volunteering in some far-off third world country, fluency in a couple of languages, mad IT-skills and on top of that leadership positions in dozens of clubs, societies and organisations.

It’s easy just to write this off as a game of buffing up your resume and for some part also your ego, but there is a lot of value in striving to experience more than just the ivory tower that is your university. This is what we call “practical experience” – “learning by doing”. Something we not only stand for, but value in AIESEC.
In a nutshell AIESEC is an exchange organisation. Our volunteering and internship opportunities abroad are created by students for students. It is a very daunting process – after all sending people abroad is not your typical waiting-tables-student-job. It is an understatement to say that not everything runs amazingly in our organisation. On a normal basis AIESECers are confronted with everything from minor glitches to this-might-get-us-sued scenarios (fishy things happen when you work with legal documents – I’m just saying: visas and contracts).
When you’re in AIESEC you feel like you step into an exam unprepared. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Actually that’s the whole point of it. There is merit to acing exams, but there is really nothing more fulfilling to be confronted with a difficult scenario, rising up to the occasion and giving it your all to solve it. There will be no red pen that will mark out that you were wrong. When you’re confronted with real life situations, you are never wrong, you just haven’t figured out the right way yet. You have all the freedom in the world to get up, brush it off and find a new solution that will get you what you want and where you want to be.
Being in AIESEC has shown me that there is no such thing as “coming prepared”. If anything our future is filled with uncertainty. Will we live in a dystopia run by dubious business tycoons where robots will wipe out the human workforce? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will be able take it in my stride to face problems, challenges and crises that seem unsurmountable. Being solution-oriented in this case doesn’t mean being armed with academic degrees, internships under my belt and mad IT-skills to combat robots who will steal my future job (though I’ve been reassured that robots won’t be replacing lawyers any soon). Solution-orientatedness is not a set of skills you get through “practical experience”. It’s an attitude – an approach – you adapt after time and again being confronted to difficult situations that is more than just trying to remember who battled whom in 202 BC in an exam hall.
When it comes to the debate of why we should stock up our resume with all the experience in the world. It’s not to have a flimsy piece of paper that screams “I’m prepared for the world”. Whether or not you’re “prepared” for all of the world’s challenges boils down to your willingness to take the plunge into cold water, regardless of whether or not you came prepared, and knowing that you only need to make one choice: sink or swim?

By Hoang Anh Nguyen

 

How I developed someone who was 8000km away from me

Hello. I’m Mihai and I’m a Romanian student in Vienna. I study Economics and Social Sciences at Vienna University of Economics and Business. I like to think that I’m an open and energetic person who usually likes challenges and exploring other cultures.

However, it wasn’t until this volunteering experience that all these were put to the test.

When I left for Brazil, it was the first time I went abroad completely alone. Understandably, I started my experience with many reasons to be excited but equally many reasons to be anxious about what was going to happen.

Overall it turned out to be a marvelous experience. And it was not the visiting part that made it worth remembering for, but rather the challenges I faced and the inner journey I went through in those six weeks.

Trying to teach English and civic education to children coming from a tough environment without speaking the same language was definitely not easy, but it enabled me to identify my purpose, my passion and most importantly it gave me the opportunity to live up to my values. I had an impact and I developed someone who was more than 8000 km from home. For me, simply mindblowing!

Why do I think such a journey would be beneficial for everyone?

Because one will meet beautiful people and make friends. One will experience a vibrant culture as well as culture shocks and clashes and the amazing feeling of relevancy and importance.

All these things create the perfect mix that shapes who one is as a person.  They help one identify what he/she strives for and the values he/she wants to live. They help one find out who he/she wants to become by getting him/her out of their bubble.

In the end, giving back to other people will not only help them but will also impact you and make you develop further.

How to become your true self

becomeI’ve always been a kind of person who is doing extra activities besides the must-dos. And I was desperate about what is going on. About my generation around me and about how I cannot help the situating, where the world is going, where my country is going. I did not know what I want to do, who or what I will become as a person at all.

Then I started university, and soon after the first semester started, I saw a girl from my high school sharing an application form of a student organization, called AIESEC. She seemed so enthusiastic, I needed to ask her what this whole thing was. The answer I got? ‘Just apply, it will be fun!’ Amazing sales skills, right? Anyways, I applied, I gave it a try. I tried to get ready for my interview, though the information I saw on the site of my Local Committee was a bit blurry… But I went for the interview and on that weekend I found myself in the induction camp of AIESEC. I’ve just become a member! I got to know what this organization is doing… and I fell in love with it! I felt so motivated, ready to act. As if finally the solution for all the things I worried about was all in my hands. Not to mention all the people around me, who cared about the same issues as I did. I felt so much inspiration in that room.

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In my first role I was put in a team where my task was mainly promotion, and helping people to go abroad as a volunteer, become a change agent. I met amazing people and we changed many lives together, we did things that actually matter. It was quite funny that during my interview I was asked to prioritize the three main roles I could have in AIESEC, and marketing was the very last one. I didn’t, at any time thought about dealing with marketing. But these guys knew that was my place.

become

Later, I became the leader of the team in the same area, where I understood what being a leader is, I learnt essential HR processes – which most of the companies don’t fully use, unfortunately, so I became smarter than some HR assistants. And I absolutely loved my team. I saw that group of people become a team. This was when I really understood what teamwork is about. What universities try to teach with group assignments, but it’s nowhere close to the real teamwork I experienced, the one that is happening in the corporate world as well.

As the top of my carrier, I became one of the Vice Presidents of my Local Committee, where I was responsible for the incoming voluntary program, Talent Management and Marketing (yes, marketing, and I love it!).

I helped numerous people come to my country, my city to change our society, to teach the youngsters here that our belief, skin color, way of thinking may be different, but different does not mean bad, moreover, it means diversity, it broadens our mind and the way we see our world as well.

Become

I learnt even more about HR, its role in an organization. I found out that this area is something that really fits my personality, it’s what I meant to do. Immediately I started writing my thesis in a topic related to HR. But what is more important is that I could let my creativity flow and make my ideas become reality.

And marketing, my friend. I found out that I’m pretty good at it, actually. All the promotions I did resulted in over 120% plan fulfillment. Since I have become an alumni, I’ve been assisting my boyfriend’s father’s brand new company as a marketinger, planning all his appearances, helping him to become successful. I’m also planning to start my own company which would help small and middle size companies with their marketing activities by giving them trainings, creating their brand and online appearances.

AIESEC challenged me, challenged my way of thinking, the way I see the world. Never have I been so proactive as now, after everything I went through as an AIESECer.

And I need to admit – I have become a person that I am proud to be.

Applications for new members are opened. You can apply on this link.

 

Author: Kitti Komoróczyslike za blogere

Kitti is people oriented, music lover, guinea pig owner, HR & marketing addict.

Welcome to the new journey of life

1964769_10205131881873155_775587336003143677_nAlmost three years. Almost 1095 days that I completely feel every kind of emotion and not regret any of them. Just one organization may affect your life flow. Welcome to AIESEC.

Every person has own meaning of life. And when you are becoming an university student you need to make this meaning more clear. It is like instinct. While you are growing up this instinct starts to poke you. Telling you that “You need to clarify me cause I’m the one who can show you what you are going to do in your life” and asking questions as: “What do you want to do?”, “Who do you want to be?” or “And how are you going to do it?”. But we are as the rest of humankind, we don’t like too much questions, and that’s why we want to find the immediate answer just for get rid of them. But just a small part of us is aware that we need to think deeply to answer these questions. Some of us looking for a help which is more practical. For me this help was AIESEC, and still it is.

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AIESEC helps you see a world where young people have the opportunity to understand themselves. With tens of thousands of opportunities in AIESEC network, you can discover and activate your potential. Transform yourself with life changing experiences abroad that will redefine the way you see yourself, and the world.  Is it something that will help you to answer those questions, ha? So from my part I joined AIESEC when I started visiting university. In my first year I worked with disabled children, teaching them English, and we had 25 people from Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Georgia, Estonia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Yes, these people came to my country as volunteers to help disabled children, to give them a chance to know that there are people, besides their doctors and parents, who are trying to help them. I didn’t just have friends from all over the world. I’ve understood that there are no boundaries between people. When you are together to work for one purpose you don’t care from which country you are, you just care about solidarity, cultural understanding, friendship. Those people also taught me that I can do whatever I want. If I want something so much I just need to go for it. I might have obstacles but it doesn’t mean that I have to stop. Because I know I can do that. I did once why I can’t do it again?

Birthday with my international friends from "Break Up the Barriers"

Birthday with my international friends from “Break Up the Barriers”

 

After this project I became a team leader. My job was to recruit the people to AIESEC and tell them why we exist. What is our vision and how we’re trying to achieve it. I had belief from my last experience so this whole Team Leader thing was just perfect job for me. Despite of it, it was also hard. Because you can’t expect from people to be excited like you are when they haven’t gone through the same experiences. Therefore I had to be clear and use the way that they are able to understand why they should be the part of AIESEC. I started to tell them my story and was encouraging them to write their own stories. Thus, we can create more leadership stories for the world.

Now, I’m here in Kosice studying through Erasmus program after 2 years in AIESEC as I wanted to be part of the other international organizations. But to be honest after my first week here, I started to search if there is AIESEC. Because you can’t just end your AIESEC stories like that. It is not something you can just say goodbye. So I decided to move on my AIESEC life. Because this is the place where I may find all my answers, this is the place where I can make positive impact in the world. This is the place where I found my own purpose in my life. I have become a reflection of my experience and I’ll reflect it to empower other people.

Applications for new members are opened. You can apply on this link.

Author: Selin Akayslike za blogere

Selin is exchange addicted, world citizen and sport enthusiastic.

My AIESEC Journey

journeyI am Jenny, an international student from Hong Kong studying my Bachelor in Austria. I joined AIESEC 1.5 years ago, and yes, it is one of the best journeys of my life. I see AIESEC as a youth-run organisation where all people are passionate, inspiring, and open-minded.

One and a half years ago, my friend asked me to join this organization in Krems, which was the new local office. It was not an easy task, as there was a lot of work to be done to make the office sustainable. For example, we have created campaigns, in order to raise the awareness on campus. After one semester of teamwork and perseverance, we grew from 3 people in the local office to 10 people with 10 nationalities. I learned a lot about commitment, and entrepreneurship.

journey

My journey did not end when I left Austria for my Erasmus exchange. I continued it as a member of the Local Committee in Tampere, Finland, because I wanted to try out something different during my exchange semester. I became Vice President of Talent Management. My responsibilities were recruitment, induction of members and also the internal communication in the Local Office. I really enjoyed my work, as my ambition is to work in the field of Human Resources in the future. The experiences built up my confidence in facing people and engaging people in an organisation. Being Vice President opened up a lot of opportunities, including participating in international conferences, leading an international team to achieve goals and strive for excellence, and developing my public speaking and facilitating skills. I became more confident, open-minded, creative, perseverant, and willing to achieve.

journey

Although my term ended in 2015, I believe that there are more things I can learn and achieve in AIESEC. Now my journey continues as I am in National team of AIESEC in Finland, and I am looking forward to more challenges and experiences.

I never expected that I would learn and grow that much when I decided to join this organization. The AIESEC journey is something you really cannot describe by words. I am proud to have become an AIESECer.

 

Applications for new members are opened. You can apply on this link.

Author: Jenny Wongslike za blogere

Jenny is from Hong Kong. She likes to travel, to eat, to meet new people. She believes that ‘Adventure is the essence of life.’ Sisu, a Finnish word, is her favourite. Her mother tongue is Cantonese.

Leader or follower – take responsibility over your legacy

 

Nowadays we live in a world where things seem to have gone a bit wrong: we’re talking poverty,hunger and political and economical instability. All these issues (and many other) are gaining ground in our societies, yet some of our leaders seem to have lost interest in their people.

But that is where AIESEC steps in: we believe that the youth united can build the pillars for a new society. And because we know that believing is not enough, we also chose to act.african-american-869673_960_720

 

The concept of leadership has changed throughout the years so much. If one thinks about it, a leader was always someone who represented the people and ‘lead’ them to a better living. It was someone who did their best for the prosperity of the community. Because they believed that, if the community thrives as a whole, each member of that community will benefit from it and flourish as well. Such simple thinking back then. Well, how about now? Our species is supposed to have evolved, are leaders nowadays (not only on a large scale)? People dedicate themselves to their leaders, but where do they lead the people to?

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Anyhow, it’s not only about leadership. Day by day it seems more difficult to develop oneself because of the environment we live in – the world constantly gets more confusing. What is my place in the world? Such situations make one question him or herself, not to mention their skills. This proves there is always more to it. That is why AIESEC offers a unique way to develop, both professionally and personally. Our programs aim for a different type of approach when it comes to gaining experience in the work field.

 

Nevertheless, the journey AIESEC proposes also a personal, inner journey – finding the work field most suitable for you, or finding a new field to work with. We believe that this kind of focus proves most effective for a work experience: understanding your own self (that is sometimes eclipsed by society) in order to develop and improve professionally. Only when being utterly self-aware will one be able to use their talent and grow.

 

As said before, this world needs new leaders. But people should not wait on a knight in shining armour; they should realise that they don’t need titles to be leaders. What AIESEC does is help them decide what kind of leaders they are. As Gandhi once said: “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.” Of course taking action can be hard and difficult. But nothing can be done without action, so take responsibility over your legacy: go for AIESEC. Decide the type of leader you are and lead.

 

 

Author: Ioana Voineag

ON INTERNSHIPS – THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

There comes that time in a student’s life when he or she gets closer to the ‘real world’ – more responsibilities, more decisions, more burden. One of those burdens is linked to one’s vocation. In this respect deciding on an internship becomes a crucial step at the beginning of the career. Does the field of work fit? Will the time I spend help me in the future? – These struggles appear without doubts at some point. But during that particular time, AIESEC wants to help the youth spread its wings.

In order to support the future generations, AIESEC steps in with an exclusive project called Global Talent. From UK to China or Mexico, this internship program has been making the bond between companies and students from all over the world for a long time now and is always ready for more.

Such an experience assures not only professional development, but also, more important, personal development. While out of their comfort zone, people tend to realize more about the world and about themselves and what they really want in life.

Throughout our life the learning never stops. What is important, though, is that we learn the right things. Here are some of the interns’ thoughts about their experience throughout the program:

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Magdalena Grasser

 

UK – Alpha Card Compact Media

“Considering my professional development it was a very important step in my career. I got valuable insights into working in a professional environment, working independently and into customer relationships. And it made me think about what I want to do in my future life.”

 

Bianca Bauer

 

Mexico – Bosch

Project Mobile Migration – IT department

“I definitely enhanced my Spanish, I learned that there is a big difference in the working culture, although it was the same company. I learned how project management is done in Mexico and how the meeting culture is different.”

 

“It was one of my best experiences of my life. Every young people should really make this experience and work abroad. You can learn so much, which can help you for your whole lifetime in your private as well as professional life.”

Birgit Hoheneder Dublin/Ireland

Hertz European Service Center – Call Center Agent


“As for me it was really difficult to find a suitable internship for my studies I decided to go with AIESEC as they supported and helped me from the first moment on. My expectations as whole were completely met, speaking of the whole experience.”office-594132_960_720

Rus Diana Elena

Xi´an – China, Days Hotel & Suites Xinxing – GRO (Guest relations officer)
“I was always interested in different cultures, to meet new people, to live in different countries and to see different places. These are the main reasons why I decided to take this internship.

I am completely satisfied with all the time spent in China. I enjoyed every day.”

“I would take part again and again and again at any other internship. No matter where it is.”

 

Taking an internship could be an important first step in anyone`s career. For that simple reason, taking an internship abroad makes this first important step even more significant. Shannon L. Alder once said “The only real conflict you will ever have in your life wont be with others, but with yourself.” First, you need to figure yourself out, and then everything will become easier. That is why AIESEC puts forward the program Global Talent.

 

Take the chance – get a grip on your compass and turn this first step into a solid foundation of your future.

 

Author: Ioana Voineag

Summer series: Seeing Graz through another perspective – Part I

Many students decide to spend their summer doing an internship or working abroad. This year, four of them decided to come to Graz: Yassine Amri (Tunisia), Ana Parfión (Spain), Shu Chang (Hong Kong) and Tereza Palasová (Czech Republic). They will report fortnightly on their work experience as exchange students in the Styrian capital.

Yassine and Shu work together at the coffee shop “incafé” from Jugend am Werk, which they describe as “a really beautiful place: nicely decorated, well-equipped and well-arranged”. Yassine adds about his colleagues: “There is Paul who washes the dishes, he is very calm. Hilga who shakes everyday everybody’s hands before they leave and finally my Austrian friend David, who speaks English and does the role of a translator”. Speaking German with clients and colleagues was unexpected, but they find it quite funny and instructive too. Arriving in Graz, meeting their colleagues and the other exchange students was also a peak of their week “we visited many places and the architecture of the city is just astonishing”.

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Tereza and Ana, on the other hand, work together at the Jugend am Werk “Youth Park” in different projects alongside jobseekers, doing activities like gardening, cooking and handmade production. Both are enthusiastic about their workplace and the city they are living in.

“There is a really nice working atmosphere, people are very friendly and the place is well-equipped, I even got invited to a yoga lesson with my colleagues,” says Tereza, who also mentions that one of the main obstacles she had to face was German. She thought that she could use English at work, but in the end she had to speak in German: “It was okay though, because I expected some use of German and therefore I chose a German-speaking country.”Graz_week1_3

Ana says that the main challenge she had to face was getting the other exchange students to open to her. Since they are living together and they go out a lot, their relationship is constantly improving. On the other hand, she likes seeing how much people from different background, ages and nationalities are enjoying their stay in the company. “They are not only doing it for the money, they really love what they do,” says Ana. She also mentions proudly that this week she could even “present an own project to the company”, for which she is still awaiting approval.

The four students have had an interesting week settling in in Graz and getting to know their colleagues and workplaces. In the next few weeks, we will be catching on with their projects and we will see what they are doing!

Author:  Jennet Essid, Giulia Di Pietro