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Logo of AIESEC
|Motto||"Empowering Young People for Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind's Potential"|
President of AIESEC International (PAI)
|Remarks||The world's largest youth-led organization|
AIESEC is an international non-governmental not-for-profit organization that provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe, with a focus to empower young people so they can make a positive impact on society. The AIESEC network includes over 100,000 members in 125 countries and territories. It is the largest youth-run organization in the world.
AIESEC is a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is affiliated with the UN DPI and UN's Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, member of ICYMO, and is recognized by UNESCO. AIESEC's international headquarters are in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
AIESEC is a global youth network that aims to impact the world through leadership development experiences. It envisions "Peace and fulfillment of humankind's potential," by developing globally-minded leaders that live by its six core values: Activating Leadership, Demonstrating Integrity, Living Diversity, Enjoying Participation, Striving for Excellence, and Acting Sustainably.
AIESEC was originally a French acronym for Association internationale des étudiants en sciences économiques et commerciales (English: International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences), however, the full name is no longer officially used as members can now come from any university background.
The idea behind AIESEC started in the 1938, when representatives from schools across Europe exchanged information about various programs and schools that specialized in business and economics. Students were carrying out internships in other countries, but mostly on their own initiative, and it all came to a standstill with the onslaught of World War II.
In 1944, the neutral Scandinavian countries were still exchanging students. In Stockholm, Bertil Hedberg, an official at the Stockholm School of Economics, and students Jaroslav Zich (of Czechoslovakia), Jean Choplin (of France) and Stanislas Callens (of Belgium) founded AIESE. This was the predecessor of AIESEC, which was officially founded in 1948. At the time, the organization's stated mission was “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time.”
At the time of AIESEC's founding at the conclusion of the 1940s, Europe was in the midst of recovery from the war that dealt grave losses to its population. Factories and enterprises were in desperate need of executives, managers and leaders. The continent needed more than just business development, however; the war had severely damaged relations between European nations, and many members of the community felt steps needed to be taken to address this problem.
AIESEC was formed to address both of these concerns. Students from seven nations: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden came together in March 1949 for the first International Congress of AIESEC in Stockholm. The founders composed a constitution for the new organization and defined a purpose: "AIESEC is an independent, non-political, and international organization which has as its purpose to establish and promote the friendly relations between the members."
In the first year of AIESEC's existence, 89 students were exchanged among the member nations.
The organization grew exponentially in the following years, with more than 1,000 exchanges took place in 1955 alone, the same year that Israel became the first non-European member. In the following few years, AIESEC quickly became global by establishing its first North American member, the United States, in 1957, and its first South American and African members, Colombia, Venezuela, and South Africa in 1958.
For the first years of its existence, AIESEC had no central governing body, but was instead managed jointly by a Presiding Country Committee composed of the National Committee Presidents of each member nation. As the organization grew, a central governing body was created and led by democratically-elected Secretary General. Morris Wolff, from the United States, was chosen as the first Secretary General in 1960, and established the first permanent international office for AIESEC in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the following decade, AIESEC expanded to eastern Asia, Australia, and deeper within Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, having a presence in 43 countries by 1969.
As of 2014, AIESEC has since expanded to 125 countries and territories across the globe. AIESEC annually offers over 27,500 leadership positions and delivers over 500 leadership conferences to its membership of over 100,000 students. It is present in over 2,400 universities in its 125 member countries and territories across the globe and its international exchange program that enables over 27,500 students and recent graduates the opportunity to work or volunteer in another country. AIESEC is supported by over 8,000 partner organizations.
AIESEC provides a platform for students in different universities and colleges, by going on an international internship and/or by joining various local chapters. These young individuals can develop their leadership potential by working and leading teams. Associate membership opportunities allow the students to work with various NGO partners of AIESEC, and represent their college as a part of campus ambassador program.
Each year over members have an opportunity to live and work in a foreign country. Participants can choose to work in areas of management, technology, education, or development; helping to build one’s corporate skills.
AIESEC hosts over 500 conferences every year that range in length and demographic scope. The purpose of conferences are to bring the international community of AIESEC members together to enhance their professional skills, provide networking opportunities, and work on organizational strategy. Topics of interest the organization focuses on include: Leadership, Sustainable development, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility, and youth impact on modern society.
Global Talent is an AIESEC program which offers paid management and technical internships. They are normally long term in nature and involve working on diverse business projects and in different organizations. The internships duration is 6 weeks to 18 months. The intern receives a stipend which covers living costs. Airfare to and from the destination is not included. There are three types of internships:
- Management; related to administration, finance, accounting, marketing, project management and HR
- Technical; related to management and development in web, software, IT networks and databases, plus some engineering
- Education; related to promotion, curriculum development, teaching, and counseling in the education sector
Global Citizen is an AIESEC program which offers voluntary internships. They are usually short term in nature and involve working on diverse community projects and in different organizations. Projects include teaching, promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, working in human rights, environmental sustainability, leadership development and more. The exchange participants are to bear the airfare, travelling, shopping and visa expenses. AIESEC makes a genuine effort, but does not ensure securing an internship in any country of the participant’s choice. The likelihood of getting an internship increases considerably if a visa-friendly country is taken into preference.
As of 2014, AIESEC is found in 125 countries and territories worldwide, including:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Mainland of China
- Costa Rica
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
- United States
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