By Anita Zivkovic, President of AIESEC in Austria for the term 2016-2017, having started her AIESEC journey in Belgrade, Serbia in 2011.
Change is not always a good thing, but it can be even better. I’ve always believed that every change is there to teach us something new and to expand ourselves. Whenever I feel comfortable in one place, life is always bringing new environments and new lessons to learn and develop with.
Being part of AIESEC for five years has been an amazing experience. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different countries, different backgrounds, but with the same vision for the future: a future of peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential. In the last five years I had the chance to work in eight different positions — this is my eighth. I even changed city and country. Whenever I look back at my career in AIESEC, I start using this metaphor that AIESEC is as if you would have your life on fast-forward mode on TV.
When I joined, back in 2011, I was starting my second year of studies. I didn’t have much knowledge or working experience, but throughout the last few years, I went from having no experience, to going on business meetings with different companies, even having meetings in different languages. I was even project manager of an event with people from 120 different countries, which was very challenging. In just six months, I learned a lot about project management, budgeting, making agendas for events, keeping in mind logistics of an event, and how to make sure that everything is professional and in place for 20 000 visitors in my city’s biggest shopping mall. And then I realized that after gaining the knowledge in project management, since I was still studying, I could now actually better understand what the textbooks in my economics class trying to explain to us, how to use Gantt chart and other tools – because I had actually tried them in real life as well.
Since AIESEC is a platform, and it is providing opportunities for people who are willing to challenge themselves, I decided that I could still improve working with people and that I would really like to see the combination of organizing people, making sure that they are satisfied, and having them in the right place for organization, so I applied for a position in Human Resources. For two years I was working in this area – first on the local level and then leading this area nationally in an organization of 800 people. Wow! I was directly responsible for their experiences. I was actually working with people who were there to develop themselves through developing others – and I was responsible.
Afterwards, I decided that I was challenging myself, but two years in same area and working in the same country where people have similar mindsets was starting to become my comfort zone. I’ve met amazing people and through their progress in the organization and their stories, I was very happy to also see my personal progress. I was working, then failing, then trying again and then succeeding again.
I applied for a completely different country with a totally different mindset. I wanted to challenge myself and to see what my contribution would be there, how I could develop others and what I could learn about others and myself.
And here I am now. Being a CEO in a different country, developing an organization and the people in it. Trying, tying, trying, failing, failing, trying and succeeding and then everything all over again.
AIESEC is a platform. It gives you an opportunity, and you can decide to change something, to challenge yourself and to see where will you end up. To learn, but to learn with the real resources, real people, real time. To learn from others and to develop them. I have the incredible privilege to work in a team with people from 5 different countries, to learn together with them and to develop them on their journey.
AIESEC has challenged me for five years. Every time I felt comfortable, a new opportunity popped up, and I decided to take it. What about you?