I was asked to share about my AIESEC experience but, as with many things in our organisation, it is rather difficult to describe it in short. If I had to describe it in one word, I would probably chose life-changing but this word has already become a cliche, right? Instead, I will use the word necessary, and allow me to explain you why.
My first encounter with AIESEC was when I noticed it on my brother’s CV. When I asked him to describe it, he just said “Google it”, and so I did. Sadly, I was still left wondering about what the ‘international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential‘ really meant.
Nevertheless, my brother ordered me to join AIESEC. So, on my very first day at the University of Nottingham I rushed to the Freshers Fair, found the right stool and asked for a sticker to sign myself up. Shorty after, I went to one of the introduction sessions, filled in an application form and became one of the new members of AIESEC Nottingham (great! But what exactly is it that we’re doing here again?..). And then, crazy things started happening.
It was only our second Local Committee meeting when the Executive Board decided to introduce us to the unique culture of AIESEC. They launched the Tunak Tunak song on full volume, started dancing this insane dance and invited everyone to join them, and so we did! I have to admit, I felt awkward, confused and excited at the same time, and I think all the other newies felt the same way!
However, that dance was nothing compared to my first AIESEC conference. Staying at the Quality hotel in Loughborough for a weekend full of crazy dances, chants, rollcalls, punishments, inspiring sessions and wild parties, with so many incredible people that were open, proactive and enjoyed every single minute of it! I was hooked from the first hours and it was the real beginning of my 4 years-long (and counting) AIESEC experience.
So what did I actually do? Here’s a short list:
- Participated in a total of 23 totally crazy regional, national and international conferences
- Assisted in organising the largest student-run Careers Fair in the UK
- Was elected as the Vice President of Talent Management, organised the recruitment process of 40 new members, including promotion, selection, induction and allocation of newies
- Spent two months in beautiful Venezuela delivering training sessions to local AIESEC members
- Participated in the Train the Trainers conference, already facilitated in four national and international conferences and delivered a total of approximately 100 hours of trainings
- Became the President of AIESEC Nottingham, managed a team of six people, lead the committee of forty members, overlooked the finances of the committee, participated in national legislative meetings and represented the committee on both national and international levels (we also received the national award for the most improved local committee – something all our members truly deserved!)
- Spent two months in China teaching English to local children and discovering the treasures of one the oldest civilisations in the entire world (while developing my negotiation skills as well!)
- Contributed to AIESEC Lithuania as a member of the National Support Team
- Aaaand I am currently doing yet another traineeship, this time in amazing India!
That’s not that bad, right?
But still, why did I chose the word necessary?
It’s because when I started my studies in the UK it was my first real experience of living abroad. Being an introvert and a naturally shy person, not being able to express myself perfectly in spoken English, starting an independent life away from all my family and friends, getting used to a completely new culture, so different and much more diverse than in Lithuania… – all of this contributed to me becoming even more shy and extremely good at making all the conversations very awkward (yes, everyone recognised this wonderful ability of mine haha! I’m still awkward sometimes but a little bit less nowadays.).
So, among many other things, during these years in AIESEC I have become much more confident and open-minded, developed my public speaking and presentation skills significantly (to the level of some people believing I’m an extrovert), learned from my own mistakes about how to lead a team and what motivates people, built a strong network of incredible people from at least 50 different countries, travelled to amazing countries and got to know their culture, and, most importantly, had loads of fun while doing all of that!
And that is exactly why this AIESEC experience was completely necessary for me to become the person I am right now.
AIESEC gives you multiple opportunities for you to develop your skills, meet new people, travel around the world and much much more, if only you decide to take them. I took many opportunities in this organisation, hoping that something wonderful will turn out of that – and it certainly did!
So, what are you waiting for?
Go and build an incredible experience yourself. 😉