“International interns are a highly welcomed addition”

Last week, we had a chat with our Empower Austria partner, ONDEWO, an awarded Austrian high-tech startup developing AI-based natural language understanding and automated conversation flows. ONDEWO helps companies digitize their human-machine-interface and “stay human” at the same time. They’ve developed a “SMART DIGITAL ASSISTANT Platform” that builds on artificial intelligence, NLP technology, machine learning algorithms and an automated conversation flow management framework.

This winter, they participated in Empower Austria, our 12-week startup internship program, and took an intern from the Netherlands — which proved to be a great success. We’ll let CEO and CTO Andreas Rath explain to us why.

AIESEC: What was important for you to consider while choosing an intern?

Andreas Rath: We consider fit with team as well as cost-benefit aspects. First, fit with the team is important so that effective collaboration as well as team fun can be achieved. Second, we are happy to invest into good interns by training them, challenging them and thus helping them grow and develop. For these investments, we are of course also looking for a return. Thus, interns are always welcome if they use this personal growth opportunity, choose to play a significant role in the company and contribute to success and impact.

A: Why did you choose to work with an international intern?

R: The two founders have a strong background and very good experience with work in an international context (e.g., USA, Canada, Netherlands, France, Finland, UK, Italy, Middle East). Furthermore, we are already an international team at ONDEWO with employees from Austria, Germany, Netherlands, the Philippines and Ukraine. International interns are thus a highly welcomed addition.

A: You’re currently working with a Dutch intern, Leoni. How has Leoni contributed to your startup?

R: Leoni had great impact already. She was given a lot of freedom and responsibility to handle HR, Marketing and company operations and excelled along all tasks with her highly motivated and self-driven approach, her strong analytical skills and structured way of working and her drive towards excellence.

A: At which point of your startup development did you see the need for increasing the number of employees?

R: From the first second on. Our business model is based on scalability and there are always too many topics and not enough hands. Being forced to prioritize from the first day on, we focused on finding grant money of which we invested 90% into hiring more employees. We are growing now and we will continue to grow the next years.

A: What is the most challenging part when hiring people in a startup?

R: Three things make it challenging: (1) Uncertainty in tasks, (2) job riskiness and (3) limited cash. First, there are no fixed positions in the beginning and the required skill set can shift even on a daily basis. Thus, finding experts and allrounder talents in one person that in addition can deal with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the task shifts is challenging. Second, without a proven track record and limited recurring revenue streams, startups are always the more risky choice for employees compared to secure jobs at established companies. Thus, startups need to find other ways to become attractive and compensate for this risk. Third, with limited cash in the startup phase, many interesting senior profiles are difficult to win. Bonus in 2 years or stock options don’t pay rent. Finding a compromise is required here.

A: What HR structure are you using?

We have divided the company in two teams – product and commercial. The product team drives the technological development and builds our product. The commercial team shapes interactions with stakeholders such as users and customers. There are strong ties between the two teams but this split also allows for efficient work while deep-diving into topics. Administrative workload is being handled by the management and every employee has certain additional administrative tasks. So no worries, no-one only does the coffee 🙂  

A: What is an added value of having internationals in your team?

R: International employees help us in three ways: fresh ideas, overcoming groupthink, and preparing for international expansion. First, we are building products that are at the cutting edge of technology. We like to include the latest thinking from all around the world and therefore rely on international employees. We believe that broad experience is always value adding. Second, teams can easily start to think and act alike, especially in small startups with frequent interactions. Bringing in new employees with different backgrounds in culture and language helps a lot! Third, we plan to expand internationally and thus need to better understand target markets. Employees with a native background are valuable first guides in this expansion.

A: Describe your team and how are their background diverse, how has this shown when working together?

R: We are diverse in many dimensions. Age ranges from 20 to 36. Male and female. Some techies and others with commercial focus. Employees with a doctor’s degree, others with practical experience. Some living in Vienna, others joining via video conference from a rural part of the Netherlands. Multiple nationalities, ranging from Austria, Germany, Netherlands, the Philippines and to Ukraine. Working together works well with a joint vision and shared values.

A: Would you take part in Empower Austria again, would you recommend it and why?

R: Yes, full recommendation and always again. We believe in exchange, and on top, we found great person to support our startup.

Do you also want to grow your venture with young international talent? Find out more and drop us a line at empower.austria.at!

Adaptability – the key to staying competitive

Original article by Aseel Badran on aiesec.org

We live in a world of challenges, risk, and instability, and on each day, we might face many situations where we have to deal with sudden changes and respond to challenging environments. As a result, the competitive advantage no longer arises exclusively from the previous experience, positions taken, or formal education, we need to increase our competitiveness by automatically adjusting our performance to the current conditions with the maximum flexibility in the workplace as well as our personal lives.

Another feature of change in the world has been the development in the nature of jobs, therefore, the best job candidates are those who are comfortable making quick business decisions,  able to acquire new skills, and ready to learn new technologies needed in the current fast-moving marketplace, in one word, those who can adapt.

Being adaptable has many benefits, but we should realize that they may need some practice. Below we have listed some of those benefits:

  1.  Adaptability is the new competitive advantage

According to iCIMS, the top three soft skills recruiting professionals value most in a job candidate included problem-solving (62 percent), adaptability (49 percent) and time management (48 percent). While the sets of hard skills differ depending on the employer and the position, recruiters look for adaptability as a key soft skill.

  1. Adaptable employees can become great leaders

Employees who are adaptable excel as leaders. They can influence people around them to embrace change, they take the responsibility to add a lot to the company and give it more opportunities to progress. Those who want to succeed and push themselves are always seeking out bigger and better things, they always bring new ideas and take the initiative to push themselves and others around them to be creative. Take advantage of them!

  1. Adaptable employees are self-motivated

Those who can easily adapt to changes, accept challenges, learn new things, have the feeling that you can do anything. They believe they have the skills, the knowledge, and the ability to learn and change achieving a better version of themselves. Because self-motivated people are internally driven, managers and companies will not need to make a lot of effort to reinforce their strong loyalty and commitment.

In the rapidly-changing market of these days, employers are always seeking for employees who can come up with new ideas and take the initiative to make them happen. These days, adaptability has become the new competitive advantage, a critical quality that allows employees to stand out. If you are looking for highly adaptable employees, make sure to have a look here.

Are you a startup looking to level up your game with adaptable and talented people? Check out the Empower Austria project and contact us to find out more!

My AIESEC experience

Dear all readers, AIESECers and soon to be AIESECers. My Name is Bendix Holtgraefe and I am originally from Hamburg, Germany. I currently live in Horsens, Denmark, and I feel a really strong connection to Austria since I lived and worked there for many months as a skiing instructor. Anyway, this is not the topic of this article.

As I moved to Denmark in August 2016 I basically had nothing. I just barely got into university because my grades in high school were average, I didn’t really know if my program was the right thing for me and I didn’t know a single person in the city. It took me quite some time to get a footing in the city and feel at home. In the Beginning, I also had big problems with finding a well-paid student job in order to pay the expensive cost of living in one of the richest countries on earth.

Everything was getting more difficult with time here in Denmark but then one day I noticed a poster in the hallway of my university. I have heard of AIESEC before and participated in some of their events but I never really knew what they were doing. During that time, around Christmas of 2016, after a month of failing at finding a job, I just applied for AIESEC to become a member and I was promptly invited to an interview with the head of AIESEC from my Campus. I instantly felt welcome and the interview was really nice and fun. A few weeks later, I received a phone call from the president of my committee and was invited to the local training seminar.

From this point on everything  became better and my time here in Denmark has completely changed! I found so many great friends at AIESEC and my career next to my studies received a giant boost. I learned a lot about marketing and during my time in the Incoming professional internships team, I experienced Business2Business first hand. I gained a lot of experience and after some time in AIESEC I was easily able to find a job as a marketing manager at a company in Horsens called Trendhim. Our national conference was one of my highlights of my time in AIESEC.


My Local AIESEC crew at the national conference in Aalborg (I am the one with the orange shoes) – April 2017

Just imagine, coming together with hundreds of like-minded, ambitious and interesting students, all part of the same organisation, learn and grow with them for a whole weekend in a new city. I felt absolutely empowered after this experience and I recommend everybody to contact your local AIESEC committee.

If you are thinking of becoming a member of AIESEC in Austria you can register here (http://aiesec.at/youth/get-involved-on-campus/)

Never stop working on yourself!

For this weeks blog post, I decided to interview Jakov Božović. Keep reading to find out what he had to say.

State your name, age, country of origin and current occupation.

My name is Jakov Bozovic, I’m 26 years old from Serbia and I’m currently working at UNIDO as an Intern  at the Rural Entrepreneurship, Job Creation and Human Security Division.

What skills have you picked up throughout the years that are very valuable to you now? 

For the last years I was part of AIESEC for about 4,5 years. My AIESEC career started as a Sales Team Member, which I didn’t expect in the beginning because you have to be very open, direct and know a lot of sales skills in order to sell a product to a company but after a while and after having the support from my team in AIESEC I managed to forge some good partnerships. This was the starting point where I saw some potential that I wasn’t aware of before. I never saw myself as a sales person before, but at that point I started thinking that this was really interesting and something I could pursue later on.

After that I began leading a team, and I was told that I will be selling in the summer period, which for companies is a time where not much selling is happening. This didn’t make me happy at first because I just thought “why is it my destiny to be a sales team leader in the worst time of sales”. But then I realised that it’s a challenge for me to prove that it can still be possible to do sales in the summer period. I really tried empowering my team to be the best that we can be, but actually after our sales term it turned out that our team managed to deliver the best results that any team had ever achieved. Even two years later, teams were struggling to reach this point. For me this was a very valuable experience because I realised that even if the times are tough, if you have enough devotion and motivation, anything is possible.

After this I was part of the organising committee of the conference which was back then called the Global Leaders Summit. At this conference, all the Presidents of the AIESEC countries are meeting to vote for the next international president and discuss the direction the organisation is going. I was in charge of logistics, so it was a completely different experience. It really helped me because it was a huge conference, not only for AIESEC but actually for my country as well. We had 113 entities of AIESEC coming from all over the world coming to Serbia, which was very important for youth in Serbia as well. I remember we had an event which we call Global Village, where every country represents their tradition and values and you can witness and learn about other cultures. At this event we had about 20.000 attendees, so you can imagine how stressful it was. We had a lot of ups and downs, really struggling to deliver the promise that you gave when you accepted your position. At this point I have to mention my sales skills again, because being in charge of logistics doesn’t only mean that, but it also means raising materials from companies, so I also managed to use my previous experience and also managed to combine it with my new knowledge. The organising committee didn’t sleep at all for the 9 days of the conference but it was all worth it on the last day when we stood on the stage and suddenly 113 countries stood up and gave us a standing ovation. I was so proud of my team and Serbia as a country was presented very well. At that point I thought I would finish my AIESEC career but after doing all of that I felt like I really needed to contribute more to the members of my Local Committee so I decided to apply as Local Committee Vice President of Sales. Even though I was already experienced in this area, it was still a huge challenge because apart from doing the actual sales, there was a new aspect, which was acquiring strategical partnerships. For me this year was still one of the best, not only because my team was incredible but because I also learned a lot about my limits. I became much more confident about myself and realised that I have some experience in the sales area.

After this I realised that I want to apply to become the next Local Committee President, and my Local Committee had around 120 members, so it was no easy task. I would say that this was one of the toughest years of my life, in terms of challenges. But it was also one of the best years, because AIESEC gives you the opportunity to work hard and gain skills but at the same time you also manage to have a good time. The people you work with are not only your colleagues but also your friends for life. After this term, I am still in contact with the people from my team and we still manage to meet regularly. We had a goal as a team to make 100 realisations possible during our term, and we reached that goal after 9 months, which was almost a first in the history of our committee. however, this cannot be done over night. It’s a long progress, and I remember some of my fellow team members working the whole night many times. At the end of the day, it’s not about the work but it’s about enjoying this experience to the fullest.

After this I was also part of the Global Team which dealt with the Balkan region. After that I applied to be part of the national team, as the national Vice President of Marketing. After all of these experiences in AIESEC, I realised that this is also the beauty of AIESEC, because it gives you the opportunity to try something that you have never done before. It was a crazy rollercoaster for me, but at the end of the day I was really satisfied with my results because as a national team member doing marketing for all of Serbia was a very tough job to balance and it really pushes you to your limits.

Currently I am working at UNIDO, trying to keep the partnership between AIESEC and UNIDO alive. I really know a lot about AIESEC but at the same time I am learning a lot about UNIDO. My team is very focused on entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities for young people, specially for women as well.

What’s your favourite colour?

I would say it’s blue [I wonder if this has anything to do with him being in AIESEC for all of these years]

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

At the end of my AIESEC career I had this issue. I was thinking where, after AIESEC, which strives for peace and fulfilment of humankind potential, can I find an organisation that drives to change the world, that really attempts to change something in society? This was the biggest motivation for me during all my tough times during my AIESEC experience. This was always the motivation to push myself to more than 100%. After the national team you have a lot of opportunities that you can use, and I was really connected to this goal for 4,5 years so I wanted to find an organisation that was striving for the same. Then an opportunity in UNIDO appeared, and I thought that this can be something that I can be involved in. The purpose of making the world a better place was the same. Now currently when I’m here, it’s proving to me that day to day, month to month, I made the right decision. And now, of course, the most famous question that you will get in every interview “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. I’m not sure that I can answer it very directly. If you had asked me five years ago if I could be where I am today, I would’ve thought that you are crazy. I would rather answer in a different way. I see myself working in an organisation that strives to make a difference and also for myself to always be giving my best, because this is one of my personal value. I would say that this is a direction that I would like to strive for.



Any advice for the young people out there, struggling with what they want to do in the future? 

In the last five years, in AIESEC and UNIDO I gained friends from all over the world. Back in my time, AIESEC was present in 120 countries and I can say that I became friends with people from all of these countries. I met a lot of amazing people, but what differentiates between the good ones and the best ones is first of all, to stick to your values. Second, is to always work on yourself and to always have this learning process. And third of all, and maybe most importantly, is to never quit. We all have a moment where things are really challenging but the most important is to always try to look for a solution and never give up on yourself. As they always say, the good things are out of your comfort zone. 

We hope that Jakovs experiences gave you some insights of all the things that are possible. If you want to gain more insights, visit our event here



Be the I in opportunity

Opportunity. It’s something everyone looks for, and when you find it, or it finds you, you have to seize it. With social media nowadays and many companies advertising in similar ways, it’s not always easy to spot an opportunity that we could be interested in. You have to be very cautious and inform yourself well before taking one. What is it that you want to do? What do you want to gain? What are you willing to sacrifice?

Depending on what you are interested in, there is many opportunities that you can seize in AIESEC. We have a program called Global Volunteer through which you are able to go abroad and volunteer and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which all of our projects are aligned with. If you are rather more interested in entrepreneurship, you can go abroad with our Global Entrepreneur program and gain insights at a startup, while showcasing your creativity and your innovative side, learning valuable inputs in case you are interested in starting your own venture in the future.

If you want to contribute to our society in some way but would rather not travel at the moment, there are options for you as well. You could become a member of AIESEC in Austria and make these projects possible for other people, while at the same time developing your personal and professional skills. We also have the YouthSpeak Forum on the 9th of June at the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna, where young and senior leaders are united to discuss the biggest current issues and work on possible solutions. But instead of being all talk, you will take action, because the ideas will be implemented into a future project.

Now, all of this information is pretty vague. I bet you’re thinking, “some of this stuff seems kind of interesting to me but I just don’t really know what to imagine or what these things really are”. Well, I have the perfect solution for you. Our event ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ is happening on the 19th of May, where representatives from all different sectors will be sharing their experiences in a panel discussion. If you are still a little bit lost about what you would like to do in the future, this is the ideal event for you. Listening to the stories of different people might inspire you and give you an idea of what you might want to do in the future.

You can find more information about our exchange programs under www.aiesec.at or you can search for opportunities directly under opportunities.aiesec.org

If you would like to attend the YouthSpeak Forum you can find more information here and if you would like to attend our ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ event, click here.

Your path is not written yet but it’s up to you to shape it. What will you do?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? The future is something all of us think about, whether we try to or not. It’s both incredibly fascinating and absolutely terrifying to think about what will happen. What if my dreams don’t come true? What if I’m unhappy? What if i get everything I want but it doesn’t make me happy? What if I’m wasting my life? Well, the only thing that can answer these questions is time. However, there is one thing to keep in mind. The future is yours. Nobody has any say in it except you. You are the one who gets to design your future in the way you want it to be, you decide your actions and the outcomes.

Unfortunately not everybody in the world is as lucky. There are many people on earth who have not been blessed with freedom or who have to focus on other external factors like their own survival and because of their environment, cannot live life to the fullest. It is those people that we owe some help. It is those people that need us to take Action and stand up for the issues that are plaguing this earth. But it’s not just the people that need help, it is the planet itself and all its living inhabitants. The environment is just as important, for without it we wouldn’t exist either. The United Nations summarized all of these issues very nicely with their 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which you’re familiar with, I’m sure. So how are you contributing? How are you making sure that other people have a future? What are you doing to create opportunities for people, like the ones you were blessed with?

AIESEC is organizing the YouthSpeak Forum this year, a Forum where young people have the space to exchange their ideas with professionals and take action for the issues they are passionate about. The whole event is based on the responses of the Youth Speak Survey (which you can fill out here, if you haven’t done so yet), which enlighten the participants of this event about what the people of Austria care about and what issues they feel are most important. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to inspire and be inspired, to speak up, to take action and to let your voice be heard!

You can find more information about the event at our Facebook event here

If you would like to purchase a ticket to become part of it, you can do so here.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see the world?

Innovation with a capital I

According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word ‘innovate’ means to “Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” But is innovation really necessary? Isn’t it enough if something already works well?

The answer is no. But don’t take it from me!

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” – Woody Allen

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.” – Francis Bacon

Whatever it is that you’re working on, innovation should always be a part of it. In fact, without innovation, you might as well give up now. The truth is, if you have a continuous project, innovation is vital for your success. Things change, circumstances change, people change. You cannot anticipate all of these things, you cannot prepare the perfect project in advance but what will make it outstanding, is adaptation. Adapting to changing events, to changing circumstances. That is what will make you a great entrepreneur.

But is not just in your work life that you have to be innovative. Think of this: Imagine you are having the best week, you are working, studying, spending time with your friends and having an amazing time. Now imagine living the same exact week for a year. Do you think that after one year you will still have the same amount of fun? Probably not. Because in life you also have to innovate, especially when it comes to relationships with other people.

So take this notion and try to give it some thought. Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Do you want to succeed in your chosen field? Do you want to have an exciting life full of adventures? Well, then your middle name better be innovation.


Don’t Give Up

Living in this fast paced, competitive world of ours, there is a lot of pressure on us from a very young age. Get good grades, have extracurricular activities, get into a good university etc. It’s hard to manage all of those things.

When I was growing up I was learning several languages, doing sports learning an instrument and all of this next to school. When I started university, this didn’t change. I am a person who likes to keep busy because I believe that it makes you grow as a person.

But this also has its downsides. There are days when all of us think “why am I doing this right now?” or “I don’t want to do it anymore”. Staying motivated is a difficult task but there are ways to ensure that. When I feel overwhelmed with work, I like to take some time off and just do things that I really enjoy where I don’t have to think about my work load. I spend time with my friends where I can just relax.

Sometimes what really helps me as well is just being by myself. Most of the time I am surrounded by a lot of people and it can get very overwhelming so sometimes being at home, reading a book or watching a movie can do wonders for my motivation.

However, what I noticed is that when your work is what you love you can achieve incredible things. Find something that you enjoy, go after it and you will have all the motivation you need. Don’t give up when something doesn’t work out, just keep going. Success is not measured by your achievements but by how many times you are able to stand up again after you fall.

You have to go out there, make new experiences, step outside of your comfort zone and you will discover what it is that you want to do.


What I lost through AIESEC


That’s right. Being in the organization for years I lost many things. But it’s not what you think. It’s a good thing. My entire experience I have lost so many fears. From a fear of public speaking to a fear of failure and many more. But how can this be? How can working in an organization be so liberating? Well, by being in AIESEC you are being put in new environments and faced with new challenges every single day. You are encouraged to do things that you never thought you would, like speak in front of a class of 500 students. But after you do it, you feel incredible. You feel pride, a sense of accomplishment and the next time you have to do it, it gets easier and easier.

You are constantly surrounded with many different people from different nationalities, with different skill sets and different stories and you develop with them. Learning from each other is what makes this organization so special. The connections you make with people are not just work related but are genuine friendships. And the biggest benefit of all is the leadership development. If you already know something about AIESEC you will know that we are an organization that aims to develop leadership skill in young people, because we believe it is the fundamental solution to the world’s problems. But what does leadership even mean?

The dictionary says that leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this. 

But it is so much more.

There is quote by Seth Godin, an american author and marketer, that defines it perfectly to me: Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.”  By developing leadership you are enabling yourself to grow and at the same time helping others to do the same and to make their ideas a reality and if every single person is aware enough we can achieve things of unthinkable proportions.

If you want to be part of an organization that not only develops you but also encourages you to help develop others, then you can sign up here and trust me, you will not regret it!


New Year, New Me

Two weeks have already passed in 2017. According to a survey, only around 68% of people are still carrying on with their New Year’s Eve resolutions. That’s over 30% of people who have already given up on them. After just two weeks.

There are various opinions about New Year’s resolutions. Some people say, ‘I don’t need a new year to better myself and to try to achieve goals’. Others say, ‘I need this moment when the new year starts, to really be able to commit to my changes’.

Regardless of your stance on this matter, most of us have made some kind of resolutions at the beginning of a year. And when you commit to something, you should make sure that you achieve it.

But how can you make sure that you set new year’s resolutions that you can actually achieve?

The key is self-awareness. You have to know yourself, so that you know what you are capable of and what you can actually achieve. Once you reach that point, you won’t say that you will become a millionaire in 2017 (which doesn’t mean that you can’t) or that you will become the president of the United States of America (which is less likely, but who knows). Start small – every huge, ambitious goal can be broken down into smaller, achievable goals. Achieving these small goals will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and you will feel more motivated to actually go further and strive for the bigger ones.

Once you have reached that level of self-awareness, all that is stopping you is a lack of discipline. The way to the top is a hard one. Nothing that really matters comes easy in life, but working hard means achieving great things, so isn’t it all worth it?

However, when making new year’s resolutions, you should not just think about yourself. It’s easy to say ‘I will lose weight this year’ or ‘I will pass all of my exams’ but you should also think about others, who are less fortunate than you are. There are people (many people) in this world who do not have the luxury to think of new year’s resolutions at the end of a year, because they are just trying to survive different kinds of hardships. Think of those people, when contemplating what you will do this year.

AIESEC provides you with the opportunity to go abroad in summer and actually help those people. Our social projects are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, meaning that you will be on the right track to actually contributing to a better future. Volunteer this summer and make this year meaningful. You can find more information here!

If you’re thinking “I would like to contribute, but I can’t afford to leave my hometown” — fear not, we have an option for you, too! Join AIESEC at your local university and make all these social projects possible, while developing yourself personally and professionally and joining a huge international network.

2017 can be a big year – if you make it big. Be self-aware, show discipline and care for others and it will be the best year of your life!

Youth activism is important

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

AIESEC is the world’s largest youth run organization, officially founded in 1948 after the second world war by a group of young students from different countries with the goal to avoid cross-cultural conflict.

Now, more than 60 years later, we are active with more than 70.000 active members worldwide and present in over 120 countries and territories. But what do we do?

The main goal of AIESEC is peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential, which we believe can be achieved by engaging and developing every young person in the world for a better future. Young people have power and we can make a change. We should not be underestimated. In AIESEC we help students from all around the world to develop their leadership skills by putting them into challenging environments and through that letting them grow.

With our three exchange programs we send people abroad to do social internships, work in startups and intern at companies all around the world. As an example, in the last 5 years over 102.000 young people volunteered abroad to tackle social issues in another country. Due to our cooperation with the United Nations, all of our social projects are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and are actively contributing to solving these issues.

You can be part of this movement. Join AIESEC and become part of a huge international network, develop your skills and contribute to making our present and future a better place.

You can find more information here, and here is the registration form, if you decide to sign up!

Can you guess the country?

Did you guess India? Then you were correct! India has many very advanced sectors but unfortunately education is one thing that is still not available equally everywhere. You can do something about it! Go to New Delhi and work in the ‘FOOTPRINTS’ project. Prepare and deliver classes on different subjects to children. Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal #4 – Quality Education and make an impact while getting to know the incredible culture of India.

Take Action and apply for the project here:

To find out more about Global Volunteer, visit this website.

Quality Education

SDG #4. Quality Education.

‘Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think’ – Albert Einstein

We have to teach our people about other cultures and to understand and accept others – We are all human and our differences make us unique. They shouldn’t tear us apart but unite us.

Everyone on this planet deserves the same level of education so that they can use their resources to their best abilities.

If you want to take action, check out this opportunity in Finland


And fill out the YouthSpeak Survey, to let your voice be heard:


Teamwork. A word that people like to throw around, but what does teamwork really mean?

There is a variety of definitions, but why is it so hard to establish one? I think it’s difficult because teamwork comes with many facets. Being in AIESEC, I defined the most important parts about teamwork — relationships, cooperation and leadership.

Growing up I had the deep belief that teamwork is something that distinguishes me, that I am a good team player. I kept that belief but my perception of teamwork changed as I got older. Being a shy kid I always tried my best to not be the centre of attention, especially when thrown into a group of people I didn’t knew before. So in a team environment I would take the passive role as someone who is always agreeing to others and trying hard to not be destructive in any way.

So how did my understanding of teamwork develop by joining AIESEC?

Being a member of AIESEC put me in a whole variety of team experiences. Starting with being team member I realised that being good friends with everyone doesn’t necessarily lead to good results. You need to make sure that every member still knows their responsibilities and nobody neglects their duties so that the consequences won’t be that bad.

Moving on to a team leader position I got to know the importance of gaining an understanding of every different team member and finding a way to include everyone in the team. You need to respect different personalities and find a common vision and goal that everyone can strive for. We try to cooperate, using our individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict between the individuals. I was leading a group of different personalities but I would try my best to find common grounds by communicating and working together.

Working with a lot of different people and ideas I also realised that sometimes you need to take leadership of your team. Leaving behind ideas just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings can lead to a disadvantage for the whole team. If you are confident in your ideas and beliefs then take the ownership for the wellbeing of your team and the results you want to achieve

By putting me in various team experiences and giving me the chance to take the leadership role, AIESEC helped me to get a far better understanding of teamwork.

Written by Sebastian Berg

University life: 
Getting what you need in 4 steps

What do you do when your university schedule does not quite fulfil you?

Panic, drop out, change subject or even university?

Absolutely not, you simply figure out what you are missing and get it from somewhere else.

First of all there is nothing wrong with changing your field of study. Just make sure that you are 100% clear on your decision. Not all of us know what we want to do in our lives, which goals we want to achieve, what we want to spend our time on and with whom we want to spend our time.

If you need some proof you can simply contact some of my older friends and they will tell you how often I changed my life plans. Even in this moment I don’t have a plan that is set in stone and it is very likely that it will not be the way I expect it to be right now.

However, that does not stop me from being super interested in various different subjects and wanting to learn something new every day.

So if you are not satisfied with your university courses; fear not, I have a solution that allows you to tailor your university experience to your needs. As long as you don’t totally hate the subject you are studying I am sure there will be at least one or two points that will help you shape your future.

This topic has been on my mind a lot recently. This is coming from me spending two years at university, finally feeling like I found the right way to get everything I expected to get from university, from my day to day experiences. For me this wasn’t easy, but I will give my best to make your life a bit easier.

Here we go!

Step 1: Talk with (the right) people

Growing up a lot of us make the mistake of asking the wrong people for advice. Talking to people in general can be very insightful, but be careful which advice you follow.

To explain this with an example:

Let’s assume for a second you want to create an amazing start-up. Whom would you ask for advice? Your professor? Your parents? Your friends? Or perhaps someone who actually has an amazing start-up?

The answer to this might seem very obvious, but you meet people every day that struggle to implement this thought in their search for guidance.

So far so good. There is another point you should watch out for when looking for advice.

When you are working closely with someone, to learn from what they are able to do. You are not only learning from their behavior, but also from their attitude. Respect yourself enough to walk away from someone who might have the knowledge you need, but does not apply it according to your beliefs and your values.

Of course finding a person who has the exact skills and attitudes you are looking for is not always easy, but I assure you it is worth finding the right people to talk to.

To summarize: Talk to the people that are where you want to be.

Step 2: Learn with others

“I am so much faster when I study this by myself.”

Who of you had this thought before? – I sure did.

From experience I can tell you that when it comes to studying it is not always about understanding the subject or passing an exam. To learn the most about a topic it often helps to see it from a different perspective.

On the one hand, this gives you the possibility to refine your understanding and your ideas. On the other hand, seeing what motivates other people to learn and develop themselves in a certain area can also restore your curiosity and interest in your subject area.

Step 3: Create impact in the “real world”

Throughout my university experience I asked one question a lot: “How can I apply this?”

I rarely got a good answer. For me personally this was one of the main reasons why I started looking for something that I could do additionally to my studies.

What I found was AIESEC. There I started to use the skills I got from university, different jobs, and internships all in one place. By working with many different stakeholders and developing leadership in the people that surround me I started changing the society I live in.

This was eye opening for me because I found something that I deeply care about. Knowing that not everyone has the same goals, I can only tell you: Find what you stand for. Find something that you want to create. Few things are as fulfilling as creating impact through your own actions.

No matter where you find this space to apply your knowledge practically, I am sure looking for it will be worth your time.

Step 4: Strive for goals

Nothing in life is as easy as giving up.

In the times of delivery services, Netflix & Co it is very easy to waste a whole day by indulging in small, short term happiness boosts. As dedicated as we seemed when we put our goals and dreams on paper, for every journey there comes the time when we forget why we even started it.

As nice as creating an impact in the “real world” sounds in the beginning, there comes the point when reality actually hits you. As long as the budget only exists on paper it does not really limit you. Even working in a team is a lot easier if it is not you who has to worry about the team’s structure.

Do not let reality push you down. I strongly believe that the beauty of achieving goals gets lost when achieving them is too easy.

To achieve your goals, sooner or later you will work with real resources. Working in AIESEC lead me through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to that. Getting used to the threats that reality has prepared for us made my life a lot easier and helped me to stick to my goals more persistently.

Last but not least: Know what your goals mean to you. Be clear on what you want to achieve during your time as a student and follow up on it.

Do not back down – it is worth it.

Final recap of the above mentioned tips:

  • Talk to (the right) people
  • Learn with others
  • Create impact in the “real world”
  • Strive for goals

I’ll leave you with this. In the end: is it up to your university, your parents or your government to create your future? Or do you perhaps have a bigger duty in that than everyone else?

After having studied different subjects, worked in different companies and student organizations, for me the answer to this is obvious:

What do you like most about your time as university student? Is there something you disagree with? Questions? Comments? Like my ideas? Tell me in the comments below!

By Lukas Bensch

How I joined AIESEC and why I stayed (a.k.a my last 2.5 years in AIESEC)

Hello, my Name is Johannes Schneeberger and I’m currently studying one of the most hipster studies, Environmental Management a.k.a Umwelt- und Bioressourcenmanagement, a.k.a UBRM, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences a.k.a BOKU. Okay, that was probably a lot of a.k.a’s for now.

If the first part is too boring for you, just skip it because it’s about the military. To answer the first questions – how I joined AIESEC – I want to congratulate and thank the Austrian Military. For those of you, who aren’t familiar with Austrian law, I’ll give you a little introduction why in the world the most central country in Europe, needs to rob six to nine months of every young man’s time, in which he could to something purposeful. All young men in Austria by law are obligated to either do six months of military service or nine months of social service. Well, I chose to be in the military, for the sake of starting one semester earlier with my studies.

So due to the fact that the official language in the Austrian military is not English, my level of English – which was already bad – got even worse during my time in the Bundesheer. Nevertheless, I have to be thankful, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been as appealed when in the first week, a random student started to pitch AIESEC in my lecture, since at that point AIESEC was the chance for me to finally get properly fluent in English. This, and the fact that I like an international atmosphere, made me join AIESEC and I wouldn’t regret this decision in a million years (though the initial reasons were pretty trivial and egoistic).

You would probably ask me now why I don’t regret my decision – or more precisely, why I stayed. Obviously, I didn’t stay because after two and a half years I still solely wanted to improve my English skills. There are thousands of reasons why I stayed, but let me point out the most relevant ones.

When I was back in school I hardly managed to find likeminded people who were eager enough to join my Interrail travels or to do extraordinary stuff. That fundamentally changed when I joined AIESEC. Throughout my journey I had the privilege to mostly work in the on-ground marketing area, doing info booths, promoting our cultural exchange programs on social media or pitching AIESEC in front of 200 students. Therefore, I had the chance to get out of my comfort zone, talking to random people and actually getting to know a lot of students on the campus.

Was it always easy? No, for sure it wasn’t, but I saw my development in public speaking, in doing sales or in simply figuring out a way to communicate effectively, so people would understand what I was trying to explain them. I would say I definitely got more self-aware about my strengths and weaknesses, and got constantly more solution oriented by seeing the thousands of opportunities, instead of focusing on the one obstacle.

So, I was in this Marketing area for one year and I enjoyed it a lot, but since AIESEC is about always challenging yourself and taking new opportunities, I did exactly that back in December 2014, when I applied to be the main responsible for the entire Local Committee at AIESEC at BOKU. It was a huge step for me, because I personally was not really sure if my previous achievements qualified me enough to be the leader of 20 young people. But then, the AIESEC spirit kicked in and I asked myself if I would regret it one year later if I hadn’t applied. Furthermore, those amazing people who worked with me, whom I can proudly call my second family, supported me immensely. So I went for it, and had the honour to lead AIESEC in BOKU for the past year with an amazing bunch of young, motivated and courageous people, who volunteered in order to make a better version of themselves and simultaneously making the world a better place.

Yeah, I know it sounds quite fluffy, but I think nowadays that’s exactly what is missing for many people. Having a vision for the world and acting up on it, no matter what. AIESEC is essentially a group of young people, who really believe that there could be peace in our world and therefore are fostering cultural exchange and developing young leaders, who lead with their heart and not with their greed, for profit or power.

While being the leader of AIESEC in BOKU I had the amazing opportunity to join conferences with more than 300 individuals, coming from more than 50 different countries all over the world. That;s cultural exchange, and it showed me once more the importance and necessity of AIESEC being a worldwide youth voice. All this made me realize how interconnected our world is and made me a world citizen, who doesn’t think in country borders but who finds the similarities between all those different cultures.

On top of all this, I had the chance to facilitate trainings and I needed to figure out how to make a lecture engaging, without having people fall asleep, since they had just slept three hours the night before. This was also a huge challenge for me, since I’d never done it before and in the beginning, I didn’t really believe that I could be a good trainer. A lot of effort and amazing people who supported me, proved me wrong and finally I can proudly say, that I’m able to empower and engage other people.

All these experiences are reason enough for me to invest the majority of my time into AIESEC, because at the end of the day I get so much more back!

Advantages of working with young people

It is important for a company to have the right mix between old and young, experienced and maybe less experienced employees. Some companies prefer to hire employees with a lot of know-how and hands-on experience. However, one thing is for sure: It is always an advantage to have young and motivated people in your company. So, what are those benefits?



Generation Y, born between the 1980s to the early 2000s, also known as the Millennials,

are eager to continuously learn and develop themselves, plus they never stop exploring because of their thirst for knowledge. Young employees are really enthusiastic about their first job and they want to prove what they have learned so far.


Motivate your workforce

Introducing a young person to your workforce could be a chance to develop also their team- and training skills. Younger people have new, fresh ideas and also new solution approaches. Furthermore team members can get highly motivated due to the enthusiasm of a younger person.


Technological expertise

Younger people grew up with the Internet, mobile phones and many more innumerable technological devices. When sometimes experienced employees get confused with modern technology or just Excel Sheets, the Millennials can help them using time-saving shortcuts and formulas. Generation Y has an unique knowledge in technology which should not be missing in your company.


Social Media Fluency

Speaking of technological expertise, Social Media is becoming bigger and bigger and it is unavoidable for a company not using at least one Social Media channel. It is a must-have nowadays and the Millennials grew up with it. More experienced employees sometimes feel not comfortable working with Social Media channels, younger people can help them getting used to it and maybe to really start liking it.



Due to the fact that the world is growing together and young people grew up in a connected world, they have made friends all over the world. Their network not only consists of people from one continent but of people from all over the world. This could be very helpful concerning the internationalization of your company. Furthermore this worldwide network is nowadays easier to maintain thanks to Social Media and the Internet …and so the circle is complete.


All in all, it can be said that having Millennials in your company is not only necessaryut essential and a great investment for the future of your company.



Notes on Leadership

Notes on work, success and leadership – things we forget about


There’s been so much ‘nagging’ about how to become a leader so far. Still, after becoming one, holding on to the gained values is essential. Though, sometimes, pressed by the circumstances, leaders tend to forget some of the values, so here’s a ‘heads up’ about it.


Stay away from ‘the high view’


The usual attitude of many leaders of organisations is “I’m the boss, I’m the special one and you’re just an employee”. Well, that seems a bit wrong, doesn’t it? You know it’s wrong, maybe they know too that it is wrong, but such things happen a lot to people in high positions. Still, that’s not what leadership is all about. Leadership is also about recognising the value of each teammate and using that for the benefit of the organisation, of the common purpose. This is also connected to self- awareness.


Self awareness wins


This is not only about self-confidence, but about realistic self-confidence. It means understanding your strengths, your limitations and in consequence acting from competence: know when to rely on someone else. A good relationship with oneself is always a great benefit when leading – it gets you a good relationship with the others as well.


Don’t force things


Forcing one’s own view onto a situation blinds him or her from seeing what is actually going on. Therefore, one might act inappropriately and mess things up for the team, but also for him- or herself. If not forced, things usually fall into place. Always mind the timing: act the appropriate way at the appropriate time.


Yielding or decisiveness?


It’s just like ying and yang – balance. The middle way always gets the best results. Not falling into extremes is important for a leader. Mixing listening, co-operating, being open with being decisive has the best outcomes for everyone.


Leadership – The Classics


Speaking of being open-minded, here is some precious literature about leadership that will surely help: (all good things come in threes)


  • ‘The Art of War’ – Sun Tzu
  • ‘The Prince’ – Niccolò Machiavelli
  • ‘The Republic’ – Plato

Office diversity

Advantages of Cultural Diversity in the workplace

Thursday morning: Getting an E-Mail from China, answering a phone-call from the USA and having a meeting with a group of customers from India. Cultural diversity takes place in our everyday life, also in our work place. It is important for companies to recognize the advantage of the full potential and benefits of this kind of diversity in the workplace. So what are those advantages?



  • Increase of creativity

Employees with different cultural backgrounds have divergent attitudes and ideas. Furthermore there are also different ways how to solve a problem. Hence you can obtain more ideas and you will have various solutions for one problem or even new alternatives which is a massive advantage for your company and problem-solving strategy.


  • Increase of productivity

Productivity can increase exponentially when diverse people put together all their ideas, thoughts and solutions to meet a goal. In addition, we are living in a high-speed world in which decisions have to be made quickly, therefore companies have to adapt quickly nationally and internationally. The combination of these different point of views, diverse strengths, new processes and skills can be an unique advantage concerning the productivity.


  • Language skills

In the world of globalisation and internationalization language skills are an essential competence of companies nowadays. To build a strong relationship with other companies abroad you should speak the same language and understand your partners. Understanding and speaking a language fluently is hard work but in working with diverse people you do not have to be afraid of language and cultural barriers. Furthermore, getting to know the cultural background and traditions of your business partners could be also a tremendous advantage. Your company can gain a greater perspective on the cultural background which can lead to greater success in global business.


All in all, cultural diversity is an essential part which gets more and more important in our fast-moving, globalized world. Companies should strengthen this diversity and see this as an integral part of the business plan. At the end, this could be the difference.



Source: http://www.ethnoconnect.com/articles/9-business-advantages-of-diversity-in-the-work-place

5 Life Lessons You Will Learn Being Abroad

It’s this time of the year again. The weather gets colder, the days get shorter, the clothes get warmer and you spent more time inside. Summer seems further and further away and it gets harder to remember what the sun felt like on your bare shoulders. Wouldn’t it be great to be at the beach somewhere and get a tan? (And even better if you could develop yourself and help others while doing it?)

Luckily, you can jump on a plane and summer is only a few hours away! But if this isn’t enough reason for you to travel this winter, here are five more:




  1. You will learn to live with less

Unfortunately taking your entire wardrobe (or your entire room) on a trip abroad is pretty much impossible. Packing forces you to really think about what you are going to need – and what items you absolutely can’t live without. Knowing you have to carry these things around makes you think twice before packing the 5th pair of shorts. And you will see, you won’t even miss it! Need some general advice for packing? Check out this website for some tips!


But it’s not only about clothes and personal belongings. While traveling you will consume less in general. It’s way more fun to spend your money on experiences, going out and sightseeing than on new things. And once you experienced that you can live with a lot less, you can implement it in your daily life at home. With less items taking away your attention, you are left with more energy to focus on everything that truly brings you joy.


  1. You will learn how awesome you are

A lot of the plans you have and make while traveling will not work out. Maybe better things happen instead. Maybe not. But you will see that you are okay, whatever situation you are confronted with. There’s always the next stop on the road, new people to meet and new adventures waiting for you. Seeing that you can handle all the situations traveler’s life throws at you will give your confidence an extra boost.


  1. You learn to take care of your health

There are numerous studies that show vacations are good for your physical and mental health. One study for example showed that there is a direct connection between annual travelling and all-cause mortality. Another study deals with the correlation between depression and vacation among women in Wisconsin, USA. Women who took vacations at least twice a year were less prone to depression and tension.

Traveling for better health? Sounds good to me!


  1. You learn to live in the moment

When traveling, you don’t know what the next moment will bring. You are forced to live in the now, to enjoy the places you visit, to concentrate on the people you meet. In everyday life it is so easy to worry about the last test you weren’t good at or the assignment that is due next week. Our thoughts often drift to events in the past or future taking our focus away from the now. While traveling, you realize how valuable the events of the present are. You can let yourself be surprised by the happenings of the future and use all your energy to enjoy the fascinating beauty of the present moment. This skill is not to underestimate in your life back home. It will make your studies, your job and relationships a lot better.


  1. You learn to appreciate home

Coming home after some time abroad allows you to see things differently and to implement all the amazing things you learned while traveling. So you are not only getting to know new places. You will get to know and worship your home country, friend circle and family even more.“

This quote by Terry Pratchet sums it up perfectly:


“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.“


So what are you waiting for? Go abroad in the upcoming winter holidays and enjoy all the amazing benefits traveling brings along.


Start preparing now and check out the projects AIESEC has to offer!

Contact us and we’ll help to get you on the road!

Todays AIESECer, tomorrows leader

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better. “Bill Bradley

Every and each one of us have found ourselves unsatisfied with a certain situation happening to us, either in our society, somewhere over the ocean or a bit closer to us, in our community, at our university…and felt like we in, particular, had no influence over it.
What if we told you that you could definitely have an influence? What if we told you that the world is yours to explore, change, and make a better place for yourself and, for at least for one more person? There is the solution, contained in one word, in one organization.
The magic formula is AIESEC.

Place for the 1st picture

We, in AIESEC put a lot of time, energy and effort into creating leaders of tomorrow. We believe that each individual in this world can make a difference because a potential lies in every single one of us because we all strive to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

So, how do we do it ?!
We ensure that our members gain the four core concepts of AIESEC Leadership development as demonstrated:

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Being self-aware means to have the capacity to recognize ones strengths and weaknesses, to acknowledge its own emotions, beliefs and thoughts because by getting to know itself, an individual has an opportunity to grow and make advances in its life.
Involvement in AIESEC enables a person to engage into experiences that will drive to understand and live personal values, focusing on strengths over weaknesses and explore one`s passion/s.

By being solution oriented means to come up with solutions to challenges. It means that one is approaching the problems with optimism and an open mind, being flexible and always ready to take the necessary risks. After all, it is essential to bear in mind that the obstacles we encounter on our way to goal are not there to stop us, but push us beyond our comfort zone.
Being a member of AIESEC means to be personally challenged but having in mind that as a part of AIESEC community, you will always be supported and inspired to achieve great things.

To develop “World Citizen” characteristic means to be aware what is going on in the world, enjoy taking an active role in contribution towards making it a better place for everyone. The key for achieving it lays in believing in our own abilities to make a difference in the world because sometimes, even supposedly small steps and contribution from your personal side can make a great difference.

The characteristic that bonds every key point from above and makes it possible to actually get closer to our common goals is to be a team player, meaning to empower others. It implicates that a person is able to communicate ideas clearly, engage in meaningful conversations with others, in diverse environments, and co-create spaces of collaboration that empower people to take action.
AIESEC is a community where knowledge and experience is freely given, received and shared among ourselves and society, wishing to unite people all around the world.

Get in touch with students with Consulting Challenge!

Many employers face different challenges during a recruiting process. It is not only important to know what kind of employees you are looking for, but it is also essential to present the company itself as an attractive work environment. The more specific the tasks and requirements are, the more difficult it is to find the perfect candidate. This is why AIESEC created Consulting Challenge, a unique interactive career event that gives you the opportunity to get in touch with top students from the Business University in Vienna.image1


On the 17th of December get ready to gain insight into the current student market and address your target audience within the framework of case studies.


How will the application and the Challenge proceed?


From 125 applicants, only 60 will be selected based on their CV to ensure that the participants suit your ideal profile. By giving us details regarding your target audience, we can promote accordingly so that qualified applicants approach you in order to increase the chance that you find the suitable employee(s).


This first step of Consulting Challenge is the perfect way for the students to get an overview of what your company stands for, while simultaneously enabling you to get to know the students and observe them work on a solution for the simulated case of your choice. Allow the students to find out more about your company culture and explain your vision and values by giving them the chance to work on a practically-oriented case study.


Reflect on the case study together with representatives of the other participating companies in the course of a podium discussion. Emphasize the key points of a job in the consulting area and present its many facets in a nutshell.


Use the planned networking lounge in the evening as a more informal meeting between companies and students. Interact with representatives of other companies and students, establishing a connection to those who left a lasting impression during the case study or perhaps get to know some of the students chosen by the other companies.


Among the companies represented in Consulting Challenge are EY, ZEB and BearingPoint.


Have we aroused your interest? Make sure to visit http://consultingchallenge.at/ in order to find out more details about what Consulting Challenge means!

Summer series:Adventure in Austria coming to an end – Part 4

With their adventure in Austria coming to an end, Ana, Yassine, Shu and Tereza have made some thoughts about their experience in Graz. With each day and week, they collected memories and little life lesson, which are important to all of us.
Each one of our volunteers had her own and unique experience. Depending on their background and on the different working atmosphere, they all got something to cherish from these 6 weeks in Graz. Shu was one of the volunteers who had a very special experience in Graz, partly being her first time in Europe and having to go through a rough change of background. Overcoming the cultural shock and communication problems, she started to get deeper into the Austrian traditions. Being it her first time working in a cafeteria and restaurant, Shu was happy to learn how to cook Austrian recipes. Moreover, having to work with disabled people, who had difficulties moving and communicating, she could learn more about herself and how to approach people with special needs. As always, for Shu, it is always important to smile!
Tereza on the other hand had to work with long-term unemployed young people, so she had another type of challenge to deal with. She explored four different projects and therefore got to know a lot about different social problems and how young people face them. What she points out is the importance of liking or at least not hating your job. Being motivated and trying to find motivation in your working life is of great importance. According to Tereza, the government should push young people to make an effort for their lives and not help them dwell in an unproductive routine. For our dear Ana, this has been an experience which will be hard to forget and is very grateful to her buddy Carla and all her working colleagues for the great summer spent together. She believes that everything happens for a reason!

Yassine also had an important experience in Austria. He is happy to have learnt to rely more on himself and become more confident. Having to work with disabled people, he has become more patient and understanding. He could also learn how to cook simple recipes, which he will be happy to cook back at home, and most importantly, he overcame his indisposition to wash dishes, which now seems to be quite unproblematic to him. Another important fact was becoming more independent while living away from his parents and more responsible. He now wants to start drawing his own path in life.

At the end of the six weeks, what matters the most is what our lovely volunteers will take with them and what made a difference in their lives. For Shu, this was the first time in another continent and she made the most out of it. She is grateful to have had the chance to be part of the program and thanks all her colleagues and partners.
For Tereza on the other hand, these six weeks were a very well spent time. She was always very motivated and eager to improve herself. According to her there are some points that might need improvement, such as the position of the volunteers in the company and the possibility to have more opportunities to make their own programs and have a stronger say in the program.
These six weeks have certainly given a lot to all of us. Both volunteers and us working closely with them have gained a lot and will not forget this experience we shared.

Author:Giannenta Milio

Summer series: Seeing Graz through another perspective – Part III

4 Volunteers, Blog post Number 3, a lot to 2 and 1 mission: Having the time of their lives while being a volunteer in Graz! Time is flying by so fast – it’s already the fourth week for our great international volunteers Ana, Tereza, Shu and Yassine who are working for Jugend am Werk. 

During these last weeks they have learned a lot about themselves and disabled people. Saying that „disabled people are capable of innovating and creating many pretty things and what I like so much about it is the moment when I see the smile on their faces“, puts also a smile on Yassine’s face. On the one hand our volunteers learned something about themselves: how to integrate easily and approach to the clients and the team members. On the other hand Tereza “hopes that the teenagers learned something from her teambuilding this week”, so in the end everyone gained some experience in a different way.

Additionally they could also improve their German in learning some new words and within four weeks they also got to know the Austrian and European culture. Shu states that she „learned lots of new things during her trip to Budapest, while taking the Eurorail for the first time“. Our four volunteers also try to cook together to introduce their cultures and national food to one another. Plus, in this past weeks Ana “learned about the Austrian economy and how Austria tries to introduce young people with problems of the professional world.”


So aside from all the travelling and exploring Europe, you may ask yourself, how does a normal day look like as an EP? Work starts at 9 a.m. and ends in the afternoon around 3 p.m. In “incafé” there are usually people in the morning drinking coffee. Before midday, the preparations for lunch have to be done. Shu mentions that the rush hour is at lunch time when she „serves guests and sends the dishes to specific tables“. Despite all the work concerning the café, they prepare activities once a week for their colleagues to get to know them and their culture better. Tereza, who is working in a different project than Shu, states that her “work is different every week as there are more projects – sewing bags, handicraft and decorations, kitchen and two projects concerning gardening works.” Furthermore she says that working slowly is important because the goal of the organization is not quantity but “to give the opportunity to work to people who have problems finding a job”.

Time is going by too fast for our four volunteers. Although after four weeks they have a daily routine, every day is still special for them because there is always something new and interesting to explore here in Graz and Europe.

And if you can’t get enough of their stories, stay tuned for the next blogpost!

Author: Giulia Di Pietro

Summer series: Seeing Graz through another perspective – Part II

After having spent the first two weeks in Graz, our dear volunteers Ana, Yassine, Shu and Tereza have started to get deeper into Austrian culture. They have started exploring this culture and communicating with Austrian, especially their colleagues.

Most of the volunteers have not yet really felt a culture shock. They all feel comfortable with living in the Austrian society with its customs, food, habits etc. and they do not feel that this culture differs all too much from their own. However, Ana points out that there clearly are some differences, even though they might not be very substantial. For example, at the beginning it was alien for her to wait for the traffic lights to turn green before crossing the street. In Spain, her home country, one would not wait for green lights but check if there’s a car in sight and cross the street if this not the case. Also, she highlights that Austrian people treat the environment respectfully and more carefully than Spanish people do. This goes also with the cleanliness of the streets or rather the city as a whole. Shu in particular feels that there is a quite a large difference between Hong Kong and Austria, especially regarding lifestyle “Hong Kong has a very quick speed of life. However, in Austria, it is very different. Everyone lives a very relaxing and slow speed of life”.


Furthermore, our volunteers are starting to get in touch with their native-Austrian colleagues. They explore how people here generally think, what point of views they may have and how they live. “I like the typical conversations about religion with Yassine, who is of Muslim religion, and also to see how far away “my world” is from his. The important point for me is that we respect what the other says and we search for a better understanding of our point of views trying to be assertive and without judgement”, says Ana. Of course, we must not forget that language is an obstacle that is hard to overcome. A lot of Austrians do speak English, but only to a certain extent. According to Yassine, the beginning was hard as he could not really understand what the others were talking about, but he’s improving and is now able to extract the key information. Because of this difference in languages and cultures, Shu has learnt a valuable lesson on how to overcome language barriers: “I found that even though you cannot speak German, the most effective way is to smile. Just SMILE!”. Tereza has also had many good experiences. She is open for new stories and new opinions and at the same time also her Austrian mates are. “I feel quite comfortable, I like listening to people telling different stories and exchanging ideas”, she states. A cultural exchange that comes along with cultural experience is taking place and is giving the four volunteers new input for their view on the world as well as on themselves.The volunteers have also made the most of the central position of Austria in Europe, over the last weekend Ana and Yassine went for a trip to Slovenia, Shu went to visit Budapest and Prague, and Tereza has been visiting other parts of Austria too. “Austria gives you the chance to visit a lot of countries because you can move very easily and the transport is really cheap”, says Ana.

So, the four are in the middle of this unique experience. We do frankly hope that they will go on as well as they did until now. We’ll keep you updated!

Author: Carla Kowanda

A social project with a transcontinental impact

Our department of social projects puts its main focus on a project called ‘Global Education‘, with the major task of introducing intercultural communication and a social, open minded discourse about diversity into the everyday schedule of participating classes in Vienna.

The project is based on a cross-cultural learning approach. By inviting students from all over the world to teach children at the age of 6-10, it spreads awareness about different cultural topics, such as cultural diversity, sustainability and world issues. Currently, we have three Viennese primary schools participating: the Josefinum Volksschule, OVS Zeltgasse and VS Kaisermühle. The projects last 6 weeks, in order to create trustful evolving relationship between students and school children.

The aim is to opt for a playful learning environment, where children can get involved with social world issue topics that are normally not taught in school, and to teach them about tolerance and the beneficial aspects of cultural diversity.

Teaching in Austria

A sample showed us, that most children at this age have already been confronted with racism, social exclusion and prejudices of differnet kinds. This makes clear, how important it is, to raise the question and discussion about cultural diversity, especially here in Vienna, where many immigrants from our eastern neighbors have found a place to stay and to raise their children.

Our main goal is for the children to experience cultural diversity as something enriching and positive, as an endless source of learning opportunities and a way to connect with people from all over the world. As the lessons are taught in English, the children will simultaneously experience improvement in their language skills.

On the other hand, the incoming students get the chance to get to live and work in another country, with a different culture and unknown traditions. Those experiences are the ones that help to boost their personal development the most. Therefore the project is not only a rewarding opportunity to help children gaining knowledge in important world issues, but as well a chance to get out of the own comfort zone and improve the know-how in multicultural interaction.

There is the possibility for everyone to get involved and become part of Global Education. One of the best possibilities to do so is by becoming a host family and accommodating an incoming student for the duration of the project. It is a unique opportunity to get in contact with a new culture and new traditions and to enjoy the diversity that the world offers right in your own home.

As we are always striving to improve our projects and to implement new strategies we are now working on a collaborating with non-governmental-organizations, to provide the students with a lager pool of opportunities. Moreover we also hope for the students to get the possibility to get involved, not only in the teaching process, but also in afternoon activities for example in youth clubs, in order to reach even more children and to build an even stronger base for an ongoing learning experience.

Author: Sara Balitzky