Most university students have to do an internship. So why not do it abroad? AIESEC is a student-run organization helping students find internships abroad and students say it’s an experience of a lifetime.
A little bit about AIESEC
AIESEC is a student-run organization that aims to provide other students with international internships and experiences. They have 60, 000 members in 110 countries worldwide, the biggest student association on the planet.
The values of diversity, leadership and implication are at the core of their philosophy. They encourage students to open themselves to other cultures and languages in the spirit of international cooperation.
From its beginning AIESEC has seeked to unify students across the world by focussing on their similarities rather than their differences.
Many young people have traveled with AIESEC, made friends, and memories that will last for their lifetime. International Student Voice is proud to share some of their stories now and in continuing publications.
Below we have two students sharing their experiences with AIESEC. Marouène Fazzi and Mourad Kolsi from Tunisia joined AIESEC and gained a global perspective abroad in Canada.
Marouène Fazzi is from Tunisia. He graduated in 2006 from Institut des hautes études commerciales de Carthage (IHEC) with a degree in Actuariat and Finance. He then studied in France at the University of Jean Monnet and at the Institute of Business Administration, Saint-Étienne for his Master of Science degree in Banking and Finance.
I am going to talk to you about my experience as a member of AIESEC and as an intern in Quebec city.
First of all, I’ve had the opportunity to join AIESEC Tunisia in February 2009. Shortly after that, and with the collaboration of a few other members of AIESEC Tunisia, we put in place a new local, AIESEC Hadrumet, in my own town (Sousse). That makes me one of the founding members of this local. A few months later, we created our first Executive Office, in which I was elected as VPTM (Vice-President of Talent Management) from August 2009 to July 2010.
After three years working with AIESEC, I can affirm that this association is a world apart. AIESEC has had a positive effect on my professional life. Indeed, on that plan, being a VPTM, recruiting, leading, training, and coaching a local team of more than 60 members allowed me to learn real sense of responsibility, real sense of managing in a general point of view, but more specifically time and team managing. Meeting entrepreneurs to establish partnerships or to organize projects on local, national and even international plans allowed me to have more and more professional contacts, develop my leadership and my skills.
AIESEC also offered me the occasion to broaden my acquaintances web, which comes from more than 15 countries, which strengthened my open-mindedness.
After having tasted leadership, I decided to go further with my AIESEC experience by doing an internship in another country. Why Canada? Why Quebec? Actually, Canada is a country that has always had my attention. I was really passionate to discover a culture other than mine and other than the European one, since I lived in France and already tasted that culture. It is also with the help of one of my members “Chedia Mezhoud” that is doing right now an internship in Quebec who encouraged me to come here. It was kind of a role inversion because at first, I helped her in her research for internships and after a few months, it was her who was helping me by suggesting me to come do an internship in this beautiful city. I also wished to discover the hard climate from Quebec that I’ve always heard of. I know it is not easy for a person used to an average of 20 degrees Celsius all year long to adapt to -20, even -30, but I thought it was great, I adapted very quickly. I wasn’t myself expecting such a quick adaptation. I even think weather this year wished to welcome me by being very warm (according to Quebecers!). I made many friends in Quebec city, they are AIESECers, coworkers and other people. I tried many winter activities, such as ice skating, fishing winter cod, walking with snowshoes…
Before coming to Quebec, I had some expectations about my current internship. I am on good way of meeting them right now: a valuable professional experience that will allow me to develop my skills, a quick enough adaptation, warm people, a new culture. Life is really interesting here. In other words, I am fulfilling aims which I came here for.
There are a few happy stories that I experienced here that I wouldn’t have experienced in my own country. I received a surprise. It was an invitation to a northern spa on 17th floor. Bathing in a hot spa and having the head in the cold -20 degrees weather (and I was with very pleasant people!). This is not something I would experience in Tunisia because of the difference of climate. All this confirmed to me there is a big difference between simple students and AIESECers.
Mourad is from Tunisia and joined AIESEC in 2007. He is studying Financial Software Engineering at Private University of Engineering and Technology (ESPRIT). Mourad also studied in France for his Master’s in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in Finance and Insurance at Polytech’Nice from Nice Sophia-Antipolis University. He enjoys traveling, photography, fishing, and studying social issues.
As a Student in Financial Software Development Engineering, my first professional objective was to work in a progressive and challenging environment at a highly profiled IT international company, where I could apply and use my capabilities, enhance my skills and seek professional growth by making a difference in the company’s success.
My first step to attend this objective was joining AIESEC in 2007, which is the biggest student run organization in the world. It represents an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential and to make a positive impact on their societies. I was highly motivated and dedicated to enlarge my learning towards new ventures and experiences. I was delegate in many local, national and international conferences and I didn’t miss any opportunity to learn new things and to meet people for; all around the world. In 2009/2010 I held a leadership position in the national committee of AIESEC in Tunisia as National Vice President of Projects, and I seize the opportunity to attend the international congress 2009 in Malaysia with more than 600 delegates from 110 countries. It was one of my best life change experiences. Being exposed to a variety of leadership styles served with concrete models of implementation, enriched my personality and helped me to develop my own approach to impact the world around me.
After a rich and intensive AIESEC experience as an active member, I decided to take a new challenge and to be a part of the global exchange program of AIESEC. My choice was to move to Quebec City in Canada for 18 months internship with LGS (An IBM company working on Information Technology and Software Development) to work as analyst-programmer in a project developed for AMF (Autorité des Marchés Financiers). In the beginning, I thought that it will be difficult to integrate this international environment, and to adapt myself with their way to do, how they organize their projects and how is relationship between team members, but finally I was surprised by the relaxed atmosphere and how people helped me to understand this new system and to be productive just after few days of work.
Concerning my new venture in Canada, it was difficult to adapt myself with weather which is totally different compared to Tunisia, where I lived, and where temperatures drop rarely under zero. But, I equipped myself with the suitable Canadian clothes and winter boots, and it was really funny to confront the snow and the wind, and to learn how to walk in icy roads and to avoid slipping. I feel lucky living this opportunity and this experience in my life.
Now, I realize that my participation in the exchange program with AIESEC is amazingly impacting me. Living and working within an international environment including different points of view, several cultural backgrounds make my experience outstanding.
I always said that ‘’Life is not about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself’’, and AIESEC gave me the right opportunity to do it and to be what I have planned to be since the first day of my university life.