Let’s talk about the Green Mother

Nature, or as some may refer to it, the poetry of the earth is not dead; or so we hope.

When was the last time you sat in a field, amongst the trees, and listened? Was the atmosphere loud; was it the buzzing of the earth or was it cars nearby? Was there a foul human-induced smell or were you eroded by the odor of the heavens?

When was the last time you looked at a tree and thought, ‘yeah, this beauty is going to be here for a while.’? Unfortunately, we don’t all have that privilege, to sit in the embrace of the green Mother knowing she’s thriving with life.

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You see, in Lebanon, the green Mother has all sorts of tubes attached; it helps her breath. If you haven’t heard, the garbage crisis had taken a toll on the nation-state’s environmental health: polluting rural areas, killing life on land. In Colombia, the peace accord has been finalized, but there’s an empty hollow patch of deforested land that had fallen victim to the violent conflict that lasted for over half a century. Indonesia has one of the highest ranks for threatened species due to the rapid loss of the country’s biologically wealthy rainforests.

Regardless of where the damage is occurring, or who’s responsible for it, the green Mother remains one; a responsibility of all of us old and young.

In Lebanon, local communities and non-governmental organizations are working on recycling projects, though short-term, to help reduce the effect of the crisis. In Colombia, the government is working on the reform of various policies to decrease deforestation and empower farmers. For the ‘Emerald of the Equator’, the World Wildlife Fund and other partners have worked on projects to conserve and restore and protect areas for endangered species in Indonesia.

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So much more can be done, we don’t have to be part of an international organization, be governmental officials or activists to care about the green Mother. We just need to sustain our home. Today young people represent the largest youth population ever, tomorrow, will there be a Mother to nurture the nature that they will reside in? It’s up to them.

Life on land doesn’t just mean animals or plants, it also means humans. How can you join the conversation about the sustaining green Mother? What can you do?

The Dangerous City

More than half the world’s population lives in cities. That’s a large number of people huddled between the shadow of skyscrapers, traffic lights, and a countless amount of everyday challenges.

Sustainable development goal #11 calls for sustainable cities and communities; the notion of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. You see, the world population keeps growing, which leads to cities expanding, pollution rising, and a dire need for urban planning.

World Leaders have adopted the New Urban Agenda back in October at a United Nations Habitat III Conference in Ecuador. The agenda helps in the rethinking, planning, managing and living in urban cities today, pushing forward cities that are resilient and inclusive that serve as engines of prosperity and centres of cultural and social well-being.

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On that note, a variety of global projects emerged to serve the targets of SDG #11 and the New Urban Agenda, and that is to respond to the norm that Crisis is the new normal for cities in the 21st century; be it natural, economic or social.

Yet In Caracas, Venezuela, deemed a dangerous city, and named the most violent city back in January, there’s a narrative taking place that might question the effectiveness and efficiency of building resilient cities in the face of inevitable challenges. According to a researcher at the International Development Research Centre, author Roberto Briceño-León, the city has witnessed a severe weakening of the rules that govern between people and groups, and an increase use of arbitrary power.

The world is not free from calamity; economic, social, environmental or political. Global initiative to include youth in decision-making and various steps taken forward towards a proper urban plan for safer, resilient, and inclusive communities is in place.

The real question is, how can the ink on all the planning papers, transform to tangible solutions? The road to 2030 will tell.

The most important thing – Volunteer Story

 

Blog-post by an AIESEC Volunteer to Bosnia: : Ganti Vijay Bhargav

There comes a time in life when you realize that you have fallen into a routine, you are doing the same things over and over again. When you feel as such, do whatever is in your power to change it. You feel like leaving everything and going someplace else and just spend time with yourself. You just want to spend time alone, you are tired of seeing the same people, you are tired of the people that surround you. It is when you realize that you need to meet new people, it is when you realize that you need a change in your lifestyle.

 

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I was going through the same thing before coming to Bosnia. I had so much going on in my life that I felt like running away from my responsibilities, from my problems, from everyone. Once I got accepted into this project in such an exotic country, for people from India, where more than half of us don’t even know where the country is, I knew that this was the time which I had to utilise the most.

Before coming here I was skeptical of my decision, I had thoughts going on in my mind such as, whether is this a safe country? Will I be able to live there? Will I be able to get the most of it? I am writing this blog sitting on my bed, with 2 more days to spend with the people whom I never meet again, with people whom I have spent the last 5 weeks, with people from different cultures.

 

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It is all hitting me right now.

I feel sad that I won’t be able to meet these people again in my life. Even though it was only 5 weeks, it feels as if I’ve known them for quite a long time.

I always believe that it is not what you learn from the internship or project or the work, the most important thing is what you have become in the process.

Results, can be achieved any way, but if you really want to get the most of something, you need to tell yourself that what I become in the process is far more important that what the end result is. This is what I’ve kept in my mind all during the time of my internship.

The Nomadic Journey of Belonging

To stay, or not to stay, that is the… question? Not really.

The human race no longer has a choice; Queue poverty, wars, underdevelopment, climate change, unemployment and so much more. People chase notions of survival, to be able to pay for the education of their children, to be able to feed their families, to be able to live decent.

Back in high-school, we used to study the phenomenon of brain-drain that refers to the emigration of highly skilled or well-educated individuals for better opportunities outside of their homeland. Today, migration isn’t limited to that phenomenon, it also includes leaving one’s country because they can not afford to live in it, because there are no jobs, or on a more pressing matter, they are forced; political instability, displacement, seeking refuge.

Syrian refugees from Kobani walk at the port of Kos following a rescue opperation off the Greek island of Kos


William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration summed up the notion of migration in the following sentence: The upheaval we see all around in our politics should serve as a wake-up call to prepare rather than panic. We need to mould the future rather than ignore it. We should do this by embracing the inevitability of migration, changing the perceptions of migrants among our publics and better integrating migrants in our societies.


 

 

About one billion people live outside their country or region of origin; that’s one in seven persons. This is no longer an issue of regulation, this has become an issue of integration and rights protection.

I live for the day I will look at someone from across the pharmacy counter, at an admissions office, in regular encounters on the subway, or in the house next door and think; this is a pharmacist, this is an administrator, this is a person, this is a neighbor rather than looking at the color of their skin rather than  judging the aroma of their culture.

We are all wanderers, nomads traveling with one purpose -regardless if our reasons are those that drive us towards opportunity or away from misfortune- we look for interconnection, we look to belong.

And belonging does not necessarily have to be characterised by the land of which our trees have sprung, or our families boomed. Today, belonging is characterised by the basic human experience of hospitality; safety and peacefulness.

One in seven persons is a migrant, a refugee, a seeker; don’t make them knock. Interconnect. Keep the door wide open.

 

Unemployed and searching.

Study, graduate, look for a job.

Sounds simple and easy, all you have to do is get your degree and look for a job that fits your ambition and qualifications. Right? Wrong.

Global youth  unemployment  stands  at  74 million  worldwide and this number seems to be growing according to the 2015  World  Economic  and  Social  Outlook  report; putting this issue as one of the top global challenges; with the Middle East and African Region holding the highest number of youth unemployment rate that has steadily increased since 2012. 

There are various factors for this from a representative gap between male and female employment to a pressing situation of a slower emerging economies. This has driven many to migrate in search of good quality jobs that might sustain them and their families.

The YouthSpeak survey 2015 report  showcased that students see the value of education, but are not satisfied with the experience and lack of career support. And so to  develop  the  next  generation,  young  people  and leaders must come together to identify how  we  can  bridge  this  gap  of  education  and  employment,  including  how  we  can  better  integrate the youth opinion into decision making  processes and make it consistent.

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Take Egypt for example, a country where youth unemployment is on the rise due to economic challenges and an unstable political context that not only lead to increased unemployment but also poverty. It is important to note the great mismatch between the skills of graduate and the requirements of the labour market, and the misconception that working for the government means stability and security of labour in opposition to working in the private sector.

Yet in 2016, a significant rise of entrepreneurs who took matters into their own hands putting Egypt as one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial hubs in the world. They set forth a journey of entrepreneurship that holds a Middle Eastern novel narrative of growth and innovation, where the economy and poverty do not stand in the face of global ambitions.

Sustainable Development Goal #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth aims towards a target of reducing the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training by 2020.

 

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AIESEC contributes to this possibility through its Global Entrepreneur program where a young person works abroad with entrepreneurs in a startup, accelerator or incubator to advance their goals and grow; thus developing an entrepreneurial stint through a global opportunity allowing yourself to expand your network and develop on a personal and professional level.

You can find opportunities here.

Together, for each other.

The need to advocate and achieve peace today is needed more than ever; with instability, war, and deteriorating societies, it’s always been a philosophy of us versus them when it should be together for each other.

A beacon of goodness, novel experiences, and societal contributions shines. We begun this week with celebrating the International Volunteer Day a day where we’ve celebrated volunteerism and paid special tribute to volunteers working towards achieving the sustainable development goals, and we end this week with a message.

GIVE

Picture by AIESEC Lebanon’s ‘Refugee Aid’ Egyptian volunteer, Michael Nofal. (Summer 2014)

 

“Not every act of volunteering is altruistic and not every altruistic act is volunteering, but the connection between the two concepts is so strong that one cannot speak of the one without the other.”

The idea of selflessly serving others, especially through volunteerism in one’s own country or abroad, is so important to achieve peace, develop leadership, and break the barriers that keep so many nations and people behind, and rather grow towards sustainable development.

Ragheb is a Lebanese volunteer who advocated for Global Goal #17, Partnerships for the goals as he travelled to Izmir, Turkey to help implement strategies and consulting projects to promote effective civil society partnerships.

 

Volunteering abroad has completely changed me. It challenged the way I perceive some people and places from around the world. It has given me new perspectives and has challenged stereotypes I had in my head, but more importantly, it has given me the willingness to fight those stereotypes.

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Ragheb in the grey polo, with a group of international volunteers in Izmir.

More than 30,000 young individuals volunteered abroad this past year.

Altruism, an ambition towards a sustainable 2030, and stories.

Your volunteer story, is a triumph to leadership development; tell it.

Need for cultural diversity at a Startup Workplace

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The world has never been more open. Weakened trade barriers and internet, have increased connectivity everywhere. However, this connectivity is not exclusively economic, historical or social, it has also has an effect on the workplace.

Since English became a must on the job market, it became easier for expats to work in any country of their choice. We also see a trend arising these last decades where international work environments are actively being sought by applicants and business alike, especially in startups. In international work environments we often see more than 10 nationalities working in synergy together. One of the most telling examples is MindValley. MindValley started as a startup gathering more than 6 nationalities working for improving well-being and potential growth through e-learning. Now it is an international company and has been endorsed by Great Place to Work® Institute.

The question is, why is it important to have a culturally diversified startup workplace ?

Innovation

Every company has its own way of getting work done. Having employees from different places in the world, working together using diverse methods will allow them to see different ways of doing things. As managers, this diversity in methodologies increases their ability to enlarge their scope of action, making them able to adapt to different situations using the best methods witnessed. It also enhances their crisis management skills and solution-oriented attitude.

The fact that our world has become interdependent, companies markets are not limited to their local area anymore. They have to meet the expectations of all the customers in any given place and in any country. Having a workforce able to understand the culture and the way of thinking of their target market became crucial to keep the business working. It also helps the marketing department understand how to segment the market on a global scale and create new needs for people.

According to entrepreneur.com, “If members of your team look like and understand the people in diverse target markets, they are perhaps better able to design and deliver products and services that meet the needs of these potential customers.”

By Asma Necib

Ultimate list of skills your intern needs

 

 

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Whether you’ve just made the decision to hire interns or are still looking at the pros and cons and thinking if it is worth it, naturally the next question is how do you find the right interns to maximize the benefit you can gain from them? Many interns have only a little work experience, or even none, but to bring results they need to jump into action and learn on-the-go. So, how do you find the right match for your company? Here are ten skills we at AIESEC feel will help you to hire an intern that will not only fit your company, but be productive and move your business forward.

 

  • Enthusiasm and a can-do attitude

 

An intern brings the best results both to their own learning and the company, when they feel enthusiastic about their job. A positive attitude takes you far, and this will help the intern and you to have a good experience. With a can-do attitude the intern sees challenges more as a learning opportunity than an obstacle, and this will help them strive forward in their day-to-day tasks.

  • Leadership skills

Having leadership skills means that an intern is able to lead a project, letting current employees focus on something else. Leadership skills might be seen for example by showing the ability of being solution oriented, self-aware, able to empower others, and by being interested in world issues. In the interview, ask what kind of responsibilities the applicant has had in the past or if they have any experience from leading teams, even during their studies.

 

  • Adaptability

 

It is very important that the intern is easily adaptable to new situations, as the work they do might change from day-to-day. Flexibility is an absolute necessity. This also means that the intern will be able to help different people and learn more.

 

  • Team working skills

 

Interns need to work with a variety of different people, both other interns and co-workers. A productive intern is able to express their opinion in groups, ask questions, and co-operate with people from diverse backgrounds. You can spot people who have team working skills for example by asking about hobbies, if the applicant has experience in team sports or volunteering in organizations, they most likely will have great team working skills.

 

  • Critical thinking

 

As many interns lack a long work history, they are bound to face challenges while completing their tasks. This is when critical thinking steps in. Finding solutions in the face of challenges will make the intern come up with out-of-the-box ideas.

 

  • Entrepreneurial spirit

 

Innovativeness is one of the most sought-after skills when hiring interns. An intern who is creative and willing to take risks will surely leave their mark in your company. Entrepreneurial interns are also usually ambitious, which makes them strive for better in whatever they do. Entrepreneurial spirit or innovativeness can be tested in an interview with a case study question, see what out of the box ideas they can come up with in a short time!

 

  • Self-discipline

 

Although a good intern needs to be able to work in a team, they also need to show independence. They need to be able to work without supervision, keep up with deadlines, and make their own decisions. You don’t want an intern that waits until someone asks them to do something, but one who will find their way to contribute.

 

  • Resilience and perseverance

 

In today’s business world, everyone faces constant changes, and an intern needs to be ready to face them. The ability to continue through challenges and bounce back from hardships differentiates a productive intern from others.

 

  • Willingness to learn

 

The reason for someone to do an internship in the first place is to learn and develop themselves. To take the most out of their internship, an intern should be able to receive and give feedback, and show curiosity towards their co-workers. The eagerness to learn should be apparent. Nowadays it is so easy to access online courses, that completing extra courses is a great sign of a person willing to learn continuously.

 

  • Motivation

 

Deep down, if there is no motivation, all the skills listed above do not matter. The intern should genuinely care for their job and your company. If there is no motivation, the intern will only be wasting their own and your time. You can already see one’s motivation in the way they answer the interview questions and by their body language.

Are you looking for an intern with these skills? We at AIESEC can help you find motivated interns that fit your company. Get in touch here.

Written by: Alexandra Byskata

5 reasons to invest in your interns

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The majority of business leaders believe that there is a significant gap between the skills and competences students are equipped with at university, and the ones they would need in their first job. Internships are a great way to bridge this gap, but a lot of business leaders battle with the thought if it is truly beneficial or cost efficient to have interns. Training and developing an intern takes a lot of time, and by the time they are actually starting to come up with results, it might already be the end of their internship, so they might not provide immediate return on investment. However, by properly taking care of your interns, they can actually be seen as a long term investment for a company. Here are five reasons why it is important to take care of your interns.

 

  • New innovative ideas

 

When you put time and effort into training your interns and making them feel at home, the fact that they feel comfortable will also show in the quality of their work. If interns feel like their opinions are valued, they can bring a wide range of new ideas to your business, be it related to the products or the way of working. The interns have the ability to look at what’s being done from an outsider’s perspective as well as bring their fresh ideas. These can be game-changers in the long run.

 

  • Talent pipeline

 

Internships are a great channel for recruitment. Many companies use internships to test possible future employees before making the hiring decision. On the other hand, interns usually lack experience from the business world, so they are like a blank canvas. It is very easy to shape them to fit your corporate culture.

 

  • Special skills

 

Many times an intern comes from a totally different generation, with a totally different set of skills. This might be the chance to bring sought-after skills to your company. The younger generation can bring insights into how youth of today use technology, and even teach tech skills to senior employees. On the other hand, hiring an intern from abroad will give you not only a direct contact in a new potential market, but unique market knowledge and language skills that might be hard to find in the country of your residence.

 

  • Employer branding

 

In the era of social media, words travel faster than ever before. Young people today share everything with their peers, so your intern’s experience will also be shared with their social networks. Whether the intern spends their internship making coffee or developing themselves professionally, makes a difference. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool and providing a challenging experience for your intern might just make the difference of having recent graduates line up at your door.

 

  • Higher retention

 

Internships can have a significant influence in a student’s life. It might help them find out what they want to do with their careers and even consider industries they had not before. The more you invest in your interns, the more they will get out of it and the more satisfied they will be with their experience. Satisfied interns are more likely to become your future employees after their graduation. After all, the more you invest in an intern, the more they will invest in their job, and ultimately your business.

At AIESEC, we work with our partner organizations to provide our interns with experiences where both the intern and our partner get the most out of the internship. By providing them a challenging environment and supporting them in their development, our partners are contributing to the development of youth leadership. If you are wondering how you could invest better in your interns, contact us today and we can discuss how to make leadership development part of your interns’ day-to-day.

Written by: Alexandra Byskata

Why do young people leave companies?

These days, everybody has a friend or family member that has left their job for one reason or the other.  And we consider it normal, but 50 years ago it was not. It wasn’t always this way.  Before, when you get a job, you stuck to it. Evolving was what most of people wanted at that time. Now, we are witnessing a change in perception. The new motto is: when you get a job, you’ll most likely not stick to it.

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Everyone is talking about the new generation’s mindset and how it is the main reason behind this. The way of they see things is deemed the “main” trigger of this whole “leave your job” trend.

It is partially true since millennials have been raised differently than the baby boomers, which is the generation of our parents. This young generation has been raised to chase after experiences and to continually search for what makes them fulfilled. Which is completely different from job stability and security, the two main factors baby boomers took into account. In other words, alignment of their goals with the company’s objectives is what prevailed.

It is true that we have to take our generation’s mindset into account to explain this tendency of leaving companies. Yet these explanation  is incomplete.

After all, as much as people of this generation resemble each other, not everyone is okay with changing their jobs every once in a while. Therefore, generalizing based on how people think according to their generation is too subjective. Ultimately we understand through this that there are other factors playing a role in this trend. According to Forbes, these reasons are personal development, career development, environment of work and strategy of the company.

It may be too biased to generalize and say that millennials think more short-term than long-term. However, the fact that they’re looking for experiences, quick information and instant well-being proves to be a good argument in putting this theory in place. Using this type of thinking, we can say that taking care of their wants in parallel with their work is a priority because companies want to maintain their employees. This means the young generation has to feel like their work is not a sacrifice, since it involves doing the things they are interested in as well. Therefore, providing them with a workplace where they can grow themselves as persons while including a bit of fun in the office is required, if not mandatory. Personal growth and good atmosphere at work are therefore one of the factors leading people either to stay or quit their job.

We also witness how a lack of clear vision influences employees to leave. When companies tend to change their focus, employees are not satisfied because their efforts are being wasted. For instance, if a company decided to add a new product every once in a while, it disturbs the flow of work of employees whom have been working already on developing another product. It requires them to sometimes drop or delay the work they have been doing because the direction board has decided to focus on something else. Since the vision of the company is shifting left and right, it demotivates employees who are seeing their efforts being lost which leads ultimately to drop the position.

And finally, do not underestimate the career development part in influencing employee’s decisions. When there’s no opportunities of climbing up the ladder, employees tend to quit. It is important to take into consideration that the new generation has been accustomed to speed. The rise of internet specifically and of technology in general have made them used to get things quickly and have an immediate request for information. When they see that the pace of rising up to higher positions requires long years of hard work, it is in most cases a turn off for many of them. The fact that they don’t get the career development at the pace they are used to on a daily basis makes it look like they won’t have the future they are expecting.

We have to understand that when assessing this widely witnessed turnover rate, we have to take into account not only the type of generation but also the company’s mistakes in strategy and meeting the expectations set in the beginning of employees.

Would you like to learn more about youth leadership development? Click here.

By Asma Necib