By: Ru Yap

aiesec not cool


You enter a room filled with over 100 people. When the loud chatter silences, a voice fills the room. The key words are “Leadership”, “Impact,” and “Change”. As the session moves on, people rise from their seats and speak about their experiences. It was as if everyone had a story to tell about their own growth and development. Actually on that very day, an intern from overseas was present and shared her story with tears welling up in her eyes. She talked about the little ambition she had and how her life completely reversed after stumbling onto an opportunity which had led her to experience this country. That opportunity, of course, is an AIESEC internship. I remember her exact words. “This has been the best experience of my life and I am so thankful”. The entire statement, as cliché as it was, proved to be extremely overwhelming for me. Why was she so thankful? What is an intern? Why is she crying” I’m not one for speeches that are constantly about how a certain entity became so life changing. The entire atmosphere was strange. This is my first encounter with AIESEC.

The more I maneuvered throughout the organization, the more I found myself engaging in activities like public speaking and sales trainings. However, a part of me was always a bit ashamed of my commitment to these kinds of endeavours.  The thing is, for a long while I was against a lot of these ideologies. After being in the organization for so long, I complied with these rules but I rarely showed my AIESEC side to outside circles. I refused to let any other friend sit in my presentations and watch me speak about AIESEC benefits just because, to put it in short, AIESEC is not cool.

Before joining AIESEC, I was primarily raised with the mind-set that the current system of society we have now is toxic. People who go through conventional education systems and follow generic career paths were just followers. I had this view that these types of people were just another cog in the system preparing themselves to sit in tight cubicles to serve a society that doesn’t even care about them. AIESEC trains youth to become fit for the system. I get that it’s cool to gain all these skills, but every time I speak more professionally and confidently, or even feel the need to organize my everyday life, I feel as though I’m normalizing myself. Today, I am now able to move through discussions and take up a leading role outside my AIESEC life where my ideas are not complacent and logically planned. Today, I have higher expectations of how things should be prepared.

Being in AIESEC has affected the way I behave and reduced my image of a rebel. Suddenly I am seen as a person who thinks about her own personal brand. Suddenly I care about taking steps towards both my personal and professional development. Whereas in the past, I used to only care about coming off as edgy and doing my own thing; continuously treating my future as if it were like throwing dice. Not caring about what would happen next and let random spontaneity shape my own life,  I started gaining control over what happens in my life as opposed to my previously carefree habits. I used to spend my late nights in random houses with folk who had lost all inhibitions and ambitions. Today, I find myself still staying up late, but now I am with other career-driven individuals discussing the implementation of new initiatives.

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