Do you do voluntary work as well as studying? Too busy? Well, it might be worth finding the time, because this gives you the opportunity to experience lots of new things and meet new people. I went to meet Milenko from AIESEC. He told me about why he has chosen to volunteer for an international student organization during his time at university and what AIESEC can do for you.
With such a huge range of student organizations, whether political, social or religious, students sometimes have too much choice. AIESEC is an international organization that supports young people, helping them to become leaders and teaching them how best to tackle challenges – both in Germany and internationally. AIESEC stands for Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales and the organization currently has approximately 50,000 members in 124 countries. Students are prepared for positions of responsibility by attending meetings and personal development seminars. Local AIESEC committee meetings are regularly held at lots of universities, including the University of Stuttgart.
Milenko Milojevic has been president of AIESEC in Stuttgart and Hohenheim since June 2017. The 23-year-old from Sindelfingen studies business psychology at the HFT Stuttgart. He kindly took the time to answer a few questions about AIESEC.
Milenko, what exactly does AIESEC do?
AIESEC is the world’s largest organization governed entirely by young people. In a nutshell, you could say that we offer students and young people paid and social placements abroad in a huge range of companies including everything from the big players to start-ups and NGOs. But there’s much more to it than that. AIESEC is also the largest network for future business leaders. It is our aim to bring out students’ leadership potential and we do that be sending students to challenging environments, abroad for example, or by organizing internships worldwide. In other words we encourage “learning by doing”.
Can you tell us a bit about how AIESEC is organized?
AIESEC has a similar organization to a globally active corporation, or rather a globally active non-profit organization. Aside from the global umbrella organization AIESEC International, there is also a national level, so local committees like ours in Stuttgart. There are 40 local committees across Germany, mostly in large universities. At each level, there is an elected management board that manages day-to-day affairs.
How many active members does AIESEC have?
There are approximately 40 active members in Stuttgart & Hohenheim and we also have a strong alumni network. According to the annual report there are around 50,000 members worldwide, spread across 1,900 local committees.
Is AIESEC successful in Germany and worldwide?
Over the past year we have managed to give a total of 38,000 young people experience of working abroad. That is a quarter more than in the previous year. AIESEC is growing and many internal changes are currently taking place: AIESEC wants to become more agile, open and accessible. We are currently in the middle of the transformation process, transitioning from a student organization to a youth organization. That means, that young people between 18 and 30 can get involved at AIESEC or take part in a placement abroad who are not enrolled at a university. This group might include apprentices for example.
How can students get involved with AIESEC? What are the requirements?
Basically, AIESEC is aimed at all young people aged 18-30. But it is a good idea to apply early. In spring this year, we completely revised our application process. It is now possible to apply for specific positions at AIESEC in Stuttgart & Hohenheim. You can find all open positions on our portal at www.aiesec.rocks. Working at AIESEC is of course voluntary and unlike many other organizations there is no membership fee.
What opportunities do students have who volunteer for AIESEC? And how time-consuming is it?
At AIESEC, every member takes on a specific role within a team and has their own area of responsibility. For example, as Digital Marketing Manager in the Marketing Team. The aim of this is to ensure that volunteers gather valuable practical experience and get to know how a large organization works.
We expect our members to play an active role. On average, volunteering for AIESEC takes up about 8 hours per week and during the exam period there is less to do than at other times. It can be challenging but you can learn a lot if you invest the time.
How long have you worked for AIESEC? And why did you decide to join?
I joined AIESEC in December 2015, so over a year ago. I was looking for a new voluntary position and a new challenge. Before joining AIESEC, I also did voluntary work in my hometown of Sindelfingen, but I felt that it was time for something new, something that I could do together with other students and that was in some way relevant to my study program. I heard about AIESEC at uni and via social media. A former colleague also mentioned AIESEC on his LinkedIn profile. He now works for a well-known smartphone producer in London and that convinced me to apply.
What foreign placements does AIESEC offer? Can you give us a few examples?
We offer three different foreign programs and they differ in terms of their length and the type of placement. Global Volunteer is our program for social projects that last for a period of 6-8 weeks. For example, with this program it is possible to spend 6 weeks doing marketing work for a NGO in Brazil, or teaching children in South Africa. With Global Entrepreneur, it is possible to do a placement with a start-up abroad, which is great for people with an entrepreneurial spirit. And last but not least, Global Talent is our oldest program. This involves classic, paid internships with companies or enterprises of varying sizes.
How can people apply for a foreign placement with AIESEC?
It is actually quite simple. You just register on our homepage aiesec.de and we will then contact you. Then you can simply search for a placement or project that suit you on our jobs portal, the AIESEC Opportunities Portal. This only becomes binding when you chose a placement and have been accepted by the relevant company or organization abroad.
How much does it cost to do a foreign placement with AIESEC?
That depends on the program. The costs cover administrative fees and, for example, a preparation and debriefing seminar. With the Global Volunteer and Global Entrepreneur programs, accommodation with a host family is usually included. In comparison to other organizations, our costs are very low. Additionally, students can apply for financial support from the DAAD or Erasmus+. For Global Volunteer and Global Entrepreneur the costs amount to 400 euros, and for Global talent 500 euros.
How does AIESEC differ from other student organizations?
Much-used phrases at the moment are ‘value-based’ or ‘purpose-based’ leadership, so leading by interpretation. If you compare AIESEC with other student organizations, most are great if you are just beginning university and want to meet new people, or people studying other subjects, or if you just want to have fun. AIESEC offers all of that too, but that alone can get a bit boring after a while and this is the point where AIESEC diverges from other student organizations. AIESEC offers more of a challenge, it can be demanding and teaches you to be professional, as well as teaching you ways of thinking beyond uni life and the boundaries of your own daily experiences. AIESEC teaches its members about the world and current challenges and about your own role in society. AIESEC does not just help you to learn more about yourself, it also lets you help others to develop and to take advantage of new opportunities, as well as encouraging members to be more socially active and engaged. For example, our social placements play an important role in improving the situation and infrastructure in other countries. AIESEC can help you to become the person you really want to be.
Thanks for your time, Milenko!
But generally speaking you don’t have to just limit yourselves to student organizations that can improve your CV. Getting involved in social projects is viewed positively by companies, and partying with other students is always fun, but the focus should always be on the voluntary work and what you can offer. If you are interested, or even if you just want more information then you should visit the AIESEC homepage. For the University of Stuttgart and & Hohenheim you can also simply pay them a visit and introduce yourself at Keplerstraße 17 (K2) in room 2.030.