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Summer series: Seeing Graz through another perspective – Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author:  Jennet Essid, Giulia Di Pietro

5 Reasons to Become a Youth Talent this semester! – AIESEC

1. “Living diversity”

Not only is this one of the organization’s key values, it also pretty much describes the possibilities AIESEC has to offer. No matter if your interests lie within Sales, Project Management, Marketing & PR or Human Resources – there are many different projects waiting for you to join in on and bring new ideas. And this is what diversity is all about, is it not? Connecting people with different mindsets and visions. Can it be difficult to work with many talented people, who all seem to know it all the best? Yes, definitely. Why bother to join anyways? It’s more than worth it, being part of an inspirational team like that, because in the end we are all striving to be the best possible versions of ourselves.

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2. AIESEC helps you to travel the world and connect with different cultures

Going abroad for an internship with the organization you’re working in! Can it get any better than that? You can select between numerous countries worldwide AIESEC in Austria is partnering with (Brazil, Peru, Greece, Switzerland, Ireland, Malaysia etc.). And if you are not interested in being away for a longer time, you can attend one of the various conferences AIESEC offers. They take place on national, but also international level. An amazing opportunity to work on your personal skills whilst simultaneously discovering another beautiful place, such as Istanbul for example. And even by staying in Vienna you can connect with people from various countries and sharpen your intercultural understanding as AIESEC is formed by students coming from many different cultural backgrounds.

3. It’s all about the networking …

Heard this sentence before?! Yes of course, especially when it comes to Business & Economics there is no such thing as the easy way to success. Forgive the disillusionment but nowadays it is not enough anymore to complete a bachelor’s degree in exactly six semesters with outstanding grades. There is much more to it. Practical work experience you experienced and connections you’ve made during that time play an important role. This is also where AIESEC can help you. Not only will you gain a lot of experience by completing different business related tasks, but you will also get the chance to meet many inspiring people and attend trainings, workshops and business meetings.

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4. Step towards your future career

As simple as it may sound -­ working in a student organization is also an extra point you can add to your CV. Once, an AIESEC member held a lecture presentation at a beginners course at WU and after he had finished the very well-­liked and respected professor encouraged the students  to give AIESEC a try. He  mentioned that being part of AIESEC can significantly improve your career chances. No need to say more, right?!

5. It’s a fun world …

Exactly! Nowadays we are so busy with striving for perfection, working and keeping up with everyone else. But as a matter of fact, we only live once and we should also not forget to have fun. And this is a big part of AIESEC, apart from the things you learn and the opportunities you get. You are going to meet amazing people with whom you can have a great time, share unforgettable memories and maybe even gain  some life-long friendships.

So what are you waiting for?! Give yourself the chance and start your journey with AIESEC.

For more information you can check the website: www.aiesec.at, our local Facebook pages or approach our info stands at universities.

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Author: Sara Balitzky

4 Reasons to Work in an International Team

10431305_2681127749925_4296718496242939197_o-e1426172758714-500x800Ten years ago, I never would have seen myself working outside of the United States, with people who didn’t speak English as a first language, in an environment where even ordering coffee would be a challenging experience. But when in university, I joined AIESEC, an organization that makes these things possible for thousands of students in the world.

Currently I am working in Vienna, Austria,  on a team of people from Luxembourg, Germany, Serbia, Romania and Spain; and last year in Costa Rica, I worked in a team of people from Estonia, Slovakia, Colombia, India, Egypt, and Costa Rica. I went from a relatively homogeneous part of the U.S. where the biggest difference between people was where they went to high school, to working in two different countries with two different teams where every single person speaks a different language. This has been a journey that certainly has its own breed of lessons, 4 of which I found to be the most important for professional and personal growth.

1. Understanding is a first step to emotional intelligence

Everyone knows that emotional intelligence is highly valued in the workplace and especially in leadership. What people may not know is that the process to developing emotional intelligence actually requires a lot of core interactions with people who may fundamentally think differently from you.

I learned this lesson during a fight with one of my colleagues. In our disagreement, I realized that neither of us was coming from a place of bad intentions, but that he and I were simply just products of the environments of our home countries and therefore have different perspectives on many issues. Coming to this realization was the first step to solving tensions and paving the way for future positive collaborations.

Of course, this requires setting aside your own priorities and viewpoints for the greater good. This is a humbling experience that cannot be learned in books. By interacting with more and more people who think differently from you, you are able to fine-tune your interactions with them, and propel yourself to proceed in a way that benefits everyone involved.

 2. You get to re-invent yourself in your new environment

Growing up, I was always lost with what to do with my life and how to do it. Now, I can consider myself to have a purpose in my life, the passion to do it, and the structure to get it done.

This is because I was able to learn from my teammates how to find purpose, how to prioritize, and how to take action. In meetings, personal interactions, and working on projects with my colleagues, I was able to see different ways of processing information, seeing what is important, drawing conclusions and in which manner to act based on these conclusions. This was extremely vital for me to challenge my own style of critical thinking and taking action and to constantly re-polish my own purpose, passion and plans.

The best part is that I could even pick out the commonalities of working styles between different cultures. I learned how to be goal-oriented and focused from my European teammates, I learned how to be persistent from my Asian teammates and I learned how to be passionate about my work from my Latin American teammates.

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3. Being a Global Citizen doesn’t only mean travelling

I would not consider myself a well-traveled person; I have been to only around 12 countries in my lifetime. However, I feel like I’ve been able to experience many more.

When the revolutions in Egypt were happening, my Egyptian teammate spoke of the youth perceptions there. When floods took over parts of Serbia, my Serbian teammates were checking up on their families and friends. When the Russian-Ukrainian conflict grew, my Estonian teammate also spoke of concerns in her home country.

Working on an international team gives you a front-row seat to these kinds of world issues. But beyond that, you also learn about the beauties of each country that may never appear in headlines, which brings me to my next point:

4. Challenge every assumption you have about society

Perhaps to many people on Earth, Colombia would be a drug-and-violence-riddled society, but I know differently from my Medellin-raised Colombian teammate. I learned about the smart and forward thinking of people who live there, with vast skills to improve their country and contribute to the world. Perhaps to many people, Romania is full of gypsies, but I know differently from my Romanian team leader. I learned that people care about their country, want to see it improve and are willing to be the generation who accomplishes it.

I am an open person who tries not to have preconceived notions about people based on where they are from, especially as an American-born daughter of Indian immigrants. But my personal interactions with my international teams further solidified my strong desire to always challenge the formed assumptions.

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Author: Harkiran Kaur