For those of you who are not familiar with AIESEC, it’s an organization established post World War 2 to bring the world some much needed peace through cultural exchange. You’re probably in it, or being annoyed about it by a friend of yours who joined it recently because you don’t see him/her anymore. I joined AIESEC back in 2010. I was a 17-year-old university student who really just showed up because the guy promoting AIESEC on campus said I’ll get to travel around.
6 years later, with more than 12 countries visited through AIESEC, and more than 4 intensive leadership roles, I realized AIESEC had in fact done something it promised it wouldn’t do, it had made me unemployable. I couldn’t be any more grateful, here’s why.
1- It helped me realize what I love.
I joined university as an accounting student, and I found myself changing that later to become a business management student. Simply because I realized that I love working with dynamic teams, and executing and managing exciting social projects. I realized I have strange feelings for a well designed PowerPoint presentation, and that I loved presenting a well designed one even more.
These realizations limited my employment choices after I graduated. I wanted an exciting job, a job where I would feel challenged but feel equally rewarded, and that is not something very easy to find, a journey to compare with finding the “one”.
2- It made me socially conscious.
Before AIESEC, I knew the buzzwords, you know, “Global Warming”, “Poverty in Africa” and such. After AIESEC, I got the chance to meet people from countries I did not even know existed. We did not just talk about their local food, we discussed the social issues faced by their countries, I talked about my country, we both learned things that we never heard of on the news.
This made me feel responsible, it made me feel like I cannot go on living my life knowing that there are issues that needed people to take action. I realized that the concept of “Changing the world” starts with caring about what’s happening in the world.
This certainly proved to be a limitation when it came to the companies I wanted to work at. I wanted a company that cared as much as I did about doing good for the world.
3- It changed my priorities.
Before AIESEC, when someone asked me where I saw myself in 5 years, I always answered “Working in a nice bank, nice office, with a secretary, and happily married with a kid on the way.”
Just writing these words up there made me cringe a little bit, not because I think it is the wrong thing to do. If you’re a person who’s living that scenario, and you’re genuinely happy, then you’ve won. It made me cringe because I realized that I’m not that person. I find myself everyday feeling scared of a normal routine that would not make me happy.
People are different, with different definitions of happiness. What AIESEC did to me is simply help me realize what a “Happy career” would mean, and for me, it’s the adventure of working on a social issue that’s close to my heart, youth unemployment.
AIESEC made me employable to many companies with all the skills I developed and experiences I got, it just made me picky about what I do for a living, thus making me unemployable to many of these companies. Deep stuff right?