Like many before me, previous to my introductory presentation with AIESEC, I had unfortunately heard relatively little about the organisation. I had been hopelessly stumbling my way through swarms of frustratingly similar internet pages in search of a suitable organisation through which I could look to travel, work and extend an offer of my skills to a culture far removed from my own. Working seemingly under my radar the entire time was the perfect companion with which all these requirements (and many more) would be more than satisfied.
Right from the beginning, they struck me as different to the other organisations I had researched. They impressed me with their experience, their entirely not-for-profit approach and a history of providing a huge selection of exciting, impactful opportunities. I was not truly going to understand the significance of my decision to apply until much further along the process. Hindsight can, at times, be the cruelest of emotions. However, I’m going to share with you why, in this instance, it is most certainly beautiful.
1. Make a Genuine Positive Global Impact.
AIESEC is a not-for-profit organisation with a truly global reach. With a presence in over 125 countries and over 70 years experience they’ve got the worldwide understanding to help your experience be targeted in the areas that need it most. There is a huge emphasis on larger scale impact as opposed to individual successes so you can be safe in the knowledge the work you are doing and the effort you put in is genuinely helping a community for the better.
2. Develop Some Real World Perspective.
It’s easy— too easy— to get completely caught up in your own life at times. Trouble with deadlines, petty relationship problems and financial difficulties can sometimes get magnified entirely out of proportion. An AIESEC experience slaps you square in the face and spins you round to face the rest of the world that you were doing oh-so-well at being blissfully ignorant to. Becoming aware of the emotional struggles, impressive mentalities and inspirational strengths of character of individuals globally is a truly eye-opening experience. There’s no substitute for perspective, so let an AIESEC experience help you gain it.
3. Live the Life of a Celebrity.
I can’t testify that this will happen for every exchange participant, but I for one underwent a somewhat hilarious transformation into that of a C-list, street-recognisable celebrity upon arrival. Random smiles, over-enthusiastic strangers and shouts of ‘Hey mister’ were all part of my daily routine brought about by my unfamiliar appearance. The ability to cause ecstasy purely by existing can actually be entertaining and genuinely heart-warming. Yes, you’ll be asked to take photos, and yes, it might slow you down, but its a seriously small price to pay for putting a smile on a stranger’s face. Just remember to stay grounded though guys, you’re not really famous, so don’t get used to it.
4. Understand World Culture.
On an AIESEC experience you are sure to meet people from all different corners of the world with a whole host of social backgrounds. You’ll start to learn first hand about the different cultures and lifestyles across the globe from like-minded, motivated people. You can explore a new city, see a new culture and develop your own global understanding with the ongoing support and friendship of all the gang at the local AIESEC committee.
5. Embark on a Culinary Adventure.
Going on an AIESEC experience to another country gives you the chance to seriously put those taste buds on trial. There’s a whole host of flavours and culinary combinations out there you have probably never even considered, just waiting to excite the unchartered areas of your pallet. No doubt culinary convention has been your loyal companion in life so far, but opening the door to a complete revamp of your meal-time habits is something that is going to be very exciting I assure you. Perhaps just remember a spare pack of Imodium, you know, just in case.
6. Build a Global Network of Contacts.
Meeting new people is exciting no matter the occasion. Add in some AIESEC sponsored inter-continental flavours to the hearty introductions and you’ve got a recipe for one full-flavoured meal. By meeting these people from all the different corners of the world, you build yourself a wide, international network of friends and contacts. You feel the budding entrepreneur within you twitch as you start to think on a global scale, seeing the world as the ocean of opportunities that it is. Opportunities that transcend borders, cultures and continents and something that the little world changer within you will no doubt look to take full advantage of later in life.
7. Make Yourself More Employable.
Employability skills are something that we tirelessly look to improve. By actively pursuing your own developmental adventure with AIESEC, you display your own independence, your proactive nature and a genuine desire to make a difference to the world— universally sought after characteristics. It adds some serious panache to that CV of yours and the stories you gain along the way leave you with plenty to talk about in interview. You’ll just have to save those long drawn-out anecdotes about your high school sporting heroics for another time.
8. Improve Your Leadership Abilities Through an Exchange.
I’m a huge believer of learning through experience. Books, lectures and erratic adventures through the wikipedia database can only develop a limited understanding of any topic—particularly when it comes to learning how to deal with life’s issues. Through an AIESEC exchange, you are presented the international backbone on which you can build and explore your own leadership capabilities; in turn giving you the expertise, experience and self belief to allow you to make a real impact on the world that we live in.
Jonny is a pie-making, travel-loving Northerner with a Masters degree in Mathematics from the University of Manchester. He loves exploring, meeting new people and has recently started a blog. Check out https://injonesia.wordpress.com
for some new perspectives, semi-coherent ramblings and a bit of a giggle.