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 (

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 or you can search for opportunities directly under

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.