Do what you like and like what you do

You often hear things like “you have to take responsibility for your actions” and “it’s up to you to make a difference”. Well, those things are true. But why not make an impact by doing things you like? Nobody is saying you have to eliminate world hunger single handedly. Small things you can do every day, like planting trees, picking up trash that you see, motivating your friends and family to do the same, can already have a big impact on your community, plus you would be doing things you enjoy! Taking responsibility can be fun.

What is the first step to take responsibility? You have to identify what you want to take responsibility for. How can you take action if you don’t even know what you want to improve? For that, the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations offer an optimal starting point. The 17 Goals summarize all the things that our world has to take action on in the next 13 years. Inform yourself, see what issues you are passionate about! What I can offer as advice, is look for facts. For example, that 836 million people still live in extreme poverty. Or that 57 million children still don’t go to school. See if any of these facts invoke some kind of strong emotions in you, then you’ll know that you’ve found the right one.

What you can do after identifying it, is start making a plan on how to take action. Let’s say you want to help eradicate poverty. Start by taking action in your everyday life, by donating money or buying somebody a meal who cannot afford to do so on their own, if you have the resources available for that yourself. Then you can decide what to do in the long run.

It was Bob Dylan who said “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” If you were born with privilege, you can count yourself lucky. Most people were not. In fact, if you’re reading is, chances are that you were one of the lucky ones. Making sure that other people have a better standard of living, is something we all have to work towards. But it is enjoyable work. Imagine helping one person to get improve their life. Imagine the gratitude that person will feel towards you, imagine how proud you will be of taking action and having an impact. That is what it should all be about.

So take some time that you undoubtedly have. Instead of watching the next episode of whatever show you’re currently watching, sit down in front of your laptop and make a plan. Inform yourself and become the kind of leader that enjoys taking responsibility. If more people would be like that, imagine how great a place our earth could be.

What will your plan be?


How can organisations contribute to the skill development process of young people?

More often than not young people feel under prepared after graduating and then moving through their first job and hands on experience into doing something practical. It is because of the gap in the knowledge and experience that can prepare them to know what is required to get hired or what skills are required to work in a dynamic work environment. From freshmen through final year in college the amount of information and experience one receives to put them on a path of gaining necessary skills to work are few to none.

Where I see incapability and a gap of the university regime to change the course and develop some educational and experiential programs, I see an opportunity for organisations to step in during a young person’s university experience and be more accessible through online or physical means, like internship programs, to really develop the kind of skills required in the industry.

In this blog I want to talk about the gaps in skill development of young people, and where can organisations step in and contribute:


  1. No idea about which educational programs will land them a job

Remembering your own days when transitioning from school to college and trying to figure which path to choose so that you have a successful career was a gamble. Eventually you end up choosing the most common one and where the crowd sways to. Providing insights and communicating exactly what companies are looking for becomes a key agenda for developing skilled individuals. What will define for companies the decision to hire – experience, a degree, internships, extracurricular activities? These basic questions can be answered for example through a program with freshmen in college. Most companies don’t meet college students until they are in their pre-final or final years. Why not do it earlier?


  1. Opportunities for young people to start hands on experience with the industry during college years

More and more organisations are leaning towards acquiring early talent and training them right after college or during college years so that they can gain the right skills for the industry. However, it is still just not enough. More training programs, internships and collaboration between educational institutions and companies to provide opportunities, to be more in a work environment than in theoretical classes, are needed.


  1. Organisations to stop looking for “ready made” employees

If most of our education system does not equip the young people for jobs, then where are these so called ‘skilled people’ being recruited from? The truth is, most organisations recruit and then invest in training the recruits for the job. There are training programs in most IT companies which do college recruitment – however this trend is not constant in every organisation. Organisations need to understand that investing in L & D of young employees can help them win the war. Read more in one of our previous blogs: How much time is invested per week on skill development?


  1. The education industry itself must rethink its model

The coming technical disruptors (EdX, Udacity, and other online education providers) are experimenting with new business models. Companies like Google and Facebook release online learning platforms for each of their products and guides on how to succeed using their tools.

Educational institutes need to step on their toes in developing collaborations with industry leaders in such programs to develop skills in young people and not just rely on the curriculum to work itself out. Refer to a blog which talks about teacher development programs and supply and demand.


Bottom line: Skills matter and it’s hard to get them. To succeed in the dynamic 21st century, organisations need to step in if they want to win in talent. Finding collaborations or developing programs to help young people develop skills. Talking about talent acquisition, why would a talented young person not choose your company to work in if he/she acquired skills from your programs during his learning years in college? So, how is your organisation moving towards this mission?


Written by: Gaurav Jeena


3 Skills that education is failing to equip young people with

Education should be a fulfilling experience where individuals bring the learning skills they have developed all throughout their educational lives to their careers, in order to be successful, well-rounded people. Many valuable skills are taught at school, high school and college, although most of the times the academic curriculum does not include other practical and technical skills needed for a student’s development. This article has compiled a list of three important skills that our education system has failed to infuse in our youngsters.


  1.      Social Conduct


In our modern world, where technology thrives above human connections, good mannerisms have been lost. Manners are considered things of the past, whereby one is not required to use words like “thank you”, “please”, “excuse me”, or “I’m sorry”. Nowadays, children as young as 8 years old are swearing, and disrespecting their elders. Teenagers as from 11 years old onwards are using sexual terms to nickname their classmates and sometimes bully others they do not get along with. Proper conducts are becoming extinct as offensive behaviour is on the rise. With the increased emphasis on academics, such etiquettes have become secondary, and little time exists to put them in practice.


Yet, teachers and lecturers are often in a position where they can teach more; considering the fact that students spend more time outside their houses once they grow up and become independent enough. Teenagers coming from broken families might need support based on character development so as not to be affected on the level of self-confidence. In other homes where the parents are too busy making an income for the family, values such as: integrity, kindness, and respect, should be informally taught when they are not a primary focus in the house. Learning manners could then help students to get along with their colleagues at work, after university, and will help to show an overall good impression on acquaintances and significant others.


  1.      Negotiation


The education system does not have classes about how to negotiate in real life events. This skill is needed for the majority of times in our lives—when we are buying a house, reducing our bills, trying to get better salary, or even trying to talk our parents into things which matter a lot to us. Working with people needs such a skill, whether it is about managers, employees, contractors or sponsors. Formal education has failed to provide knowledge on managing relationships with people while maintaining good contracts with them. It has also failed to teach students how to spot good talent, measuring results, knowing when to leave or stay at a company, and much more. For instance, not knowing how to negotiate for promotions at work can be a disadvantage. Schooling does not teach any of this, and most individuals have to learn it from the hard times they have faced through their careers or personal lives. Due to this, great opportunities are missed by many when they lack the necessary negotiation skills.


  1.      Leadership

Leadership is not defined by people merely having a title. It is a character trait – not something you do only by talking in front of an audience or just delegating tasks. Good leaders are not those who speak the loudest or have the most to say. Often, schools and colleges alike give students opportunities to create teams for presentations, and for one of them to lead the other members in their respective team. Having only this kind of experience however, will not be helpful for those youngsters later in life.

Presidents are referred to as the leaders of their country, even if some of them do not maintain their integrity. They might not take initiatives to bring up real issues, nor to actively tackle society’s problems. Making laws might be a solution, but thinking about the people who will or will not be affected by these laws is what counts the most. Laws alone cannot change much though. True leadership therefore requires discipline, critical thinking, listening to others, and most definitely the ability to understand others. The best leaders do not require rewards or praises to continue their work as leaders. Sometimes they may decide to lead from the front, and sometimes from behind. Like any other skill, leadership takes time to develop, and is probably one of the hardest skills to master.


These 3 points are just enough to stress on the failure of our education system. It is hence significant that students do not only retain information logically or temporarily for examinations. They should be applying those skills they have gained from their personal lives to help them get through their struggles in real-world scenarios. Employees can even benefit from these skills to gain better salaries or a higher status at their workplace.

Are you helping young people develop the missing skills they are not getting from education?



Stub out for (the common) good

More than 10% of all deaths globally are caused by smoking. World Health Organization calls the tobacco epidemic one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever facedThe Sustainable Development Goal 3 (target 3.a) seeks to reduce tobacco use. With the harms quite obviously outweighing the supposed benefits, you’d think that smoking was on the way out. And it is – in most places. The EU has regulated smoking in restaurants, and many countries have imposed stricter rules, regulating when and where you’re allowed to light up. In 2014 the government of Finland set a goal of the whole country being smoke free by 2040. In many places less and less young people are picking up the habit.



But like many things in the world, the harm is not distributed evenly. According to the WHO, almost 80% of all the smokers globally live in low- and middle-income countries, which are also hit the hardest by the related illnesses and death. With the number of smokers steadily decreasing globally, tobacco companies are looking for new markets, and sometimes using rather intensive advertising strategies. In contrast to the rest of the world, the number of smokers is actually increasing in the regions of the eastern Mediterranean, and especially in the sub-Saharan Africa.


There’s also a lot of cultural factors that go into smoking. A prestige can be associated to certain brands that are usually foreign. A pack of cigarettes is sometimes called the cheapest status symbol in the world. The number of women who smoke is also increasing in some countries, which can be a way for women to signal independence. And all smokers do know that the best gossip is always in the smoking area. But given the deadliness of the habit, everyone should at least be aware of its effects.



In the end smoking is an individual choice. But it’s a choice that has consequences. In addition to those 6 million people dying from smoking each year, an estimated 890 000 people die from second-hand smoke. That’s a lot from an individual choice someone else made. As tomorrow is the World No Tobacco Day, it might be a good idea to consider if smoking is something that’s really in accordance to your personal values, or would you rather take responsibility for improving our common environment. But if you still choose to light up, please mind those around you.


How much time is invested per week on skill development?

According to the YouthSpeak Report, created from a global insight survey powered by AIESEC, the vast majority of young millennials spend between 1 to 6 hours on skill development weekly.


The issues raised by this are very pertinent to today’s world, as education as we know it is at a disruption point as the system has not been able to bridge the skill gap left from graduation to employment for a while.


The good news is, we are also living in a world where education doesn’t need to be limited to a classroom. In fact, 70% of our Youth Speak Survey respondents stated that experiential learning is their most preferred method to develop new skills.


So a key insight we got from our data, diverging from a lot of millennial generation conceptions we have heard of (summarized by Simon Sinek on this Inside Quest episode), is not that millennials are too uninterested, too lazy or too paradoxical to gain knowledge.


It’s just that the theoretical method of learning is no longer effective to engage our youth into learning. Hence that is not what we should be investing the majority of our efforts on. The bottomline is: if this very small shift of mindset happens, and experiential learning opportunities start being provided to more and more young people, then more and more of them will start to invest much more time into skill development.


We’d be creating better and more employable professionals and leaders.


AIESEC has this exact purpose. They have been providing experiential development to young people for the past 69 years through our exchange experiences. Moreover, they’ve been engaging and partnering with like-minded organizations in all sectors that provide these experiences to their employees and exchange participants that come work for them.


They believe in this 70-20-10 model, wherein a young person spends 70% of their time developing skills by experience and practice, 20% by learning from their social peers such as mentors and managers, and the last 10% in classrooms and formal learning environments with set curriculums.


If all this while in the most diverse set of workplaces skill development has been a common issue, maybe we should just stop blaming who’s lacking skills and start looking into how skill development is being provided, and how compelling and engaging it is to those who need to learn.



Written by: Lara Silverio


The top 5 skills for career advancement

Samar* (*fictional) is a science student who is currently studying in an engineering college in a populous town of India. Samar and his friends were gradually pacing towards the end of their college year, the time of year when a large number of small and big companies would land in their campus for recruiting the best of the talents.

Samar’s interview was scheduled in one week, and like any other normal student would, he too felt the pressure and jitters. When he proceeded to frame his resume, one thing bugged him and further added to the chaos.

It was the skills.

I too have lived this experience, and I am pretty sure that there are plethora of Samar’s in this world.
Confused, disorganized and directionless about their career, and what skills do you need to develop to move forward in it.

What are some pivotal skills that would compliment someone’s career? According to the YouthSpeak Report, the five skills that young people feel are needed for them to advance in their careers are new languages, public speaking, leadership and management, critical thinking and problem solving, and judgement and decision making.

1) Language skills

In today’s globalized world, being able to speak more than one language is a key asset for any employee. Young people are looking for international experiences within the first 5 years of their careers, so it is understandable, that learning the needed language skills would take them forward in their pursue for a global career.

2) Public speaking

   There’s no denying the fact that public speaking is a vital skill that the majority of employers seek for. Employers have ranked the ability to communicate in and outside the organization as the number one skill or quality they look for in a candidate. Honing your public speaking skills and putting that into use increases recognition as a key player and allows you to have an advantage in all career fields.

3) Leadership and management

Leadership and management skills help to interact with all people inside a company. These skills are seen as increasingly important for employment, but at the same time, there is a lack in candidates who possess these skills. Currently, education is not equipping young people with leadership skills. However, if the youth are able to develop their leadership skills somewhere else, it just might be the missing key to becoming employable.

4) Critical thinking and problem solving

 Critical thinking is the ability to logically reason beyond the surface of information. A report by Foundation for Young Australians points that the number of employers seeking new employees with innate critical thinking skills has grown by more than 158% over the past three years. 

Ken Watanabe, founder and CEO of Delta Studio has touched upon the importance of problem solving skills in his blog where he beautifully quoted, It’s important to realize that being a problem solver isn’t just an ability; it’s a whole mind-set, one that drives people to bring out the best in themselves and to shape the world in a positive way.” 

5) Judgement and decision making

   The ability to make decisions and be solution oriented serves as an important asset to any employer, and thus, this skill is one of the defining factors of your personality. At every step decisions have to be taken and these decisions can either break or make your career. It is important that the decisions are made based on judgement and facts, a key skill especially for managerial positions.

These are the five skills that young people listed to be the most important for advancing in their careers. Do you agrew with them? What do you think are the top 5 skills to develop to be employable?

Written by: Srishti Gwari

What are the job skills that the youth will need in 2020?

Global Youth unemployment had fallen down by 3 million in 2012 and 2015, and  has fallen down by half a million more in 2016 and the number of youth unemployed will reach 71 million by the end of   2017.

After years of improvement, global youth unemployment is on a rise again, and so is job quality deterioration.  

The youth today is pining about how there is no suitable job opportunity or how they have been pushed into doing something they don’t want to pursue, or that the technical skills and professional knowledge that they have is just not sufficient to land them a good job or to give them  a security of being employed. But the employers mostly hail from a pre – self esteem era  and have little patience for these new self entitled masterpieces. They  believe that there is a huge gap between the skills that the employers expect from the employees and the skills that they actually possess, and that a lot needs to be done to educate the youth about the skills that are more important.

Life skills development in youth is necessary for success in 21st century , a generation which is driven by innovation and knowledge, in an era of constant renewal and intense competition , dynamic challenges , risks, and diverse workplaces hinged on social networking.

An article recently published by TIME magazine, states the most required job skills that will be needed by 2020, which is now just a few years away , and these skills have only a little to do  with the nature of the job.  



Image credit: Design Pickle


The workplaces are changing and so is the focus from character and experience to knowledge and skills.

Youth today is not following any specific script, it just trying to figure out  its own story. With the zeal to take responsibility and adapt to career changes, the youth depends on relentlessly trying and learning more things rather than on just one  big major decision that will stick with them for a lifetime, and this why it has become so important to make learning more about these skills rather than the existing traditional norms of  jobs and education.  



Written by: Khyati Ghai


Who wants a Career? – Sustainable Development To Fight Global Youth Unemployment

The career counselor asked to a roomful of first year law college students, “who here, wants to intern in an NGO this summer?”. Sitting at the end of the room, I saw a couple of hands go up in the air.

“Okay. (pause) How many of you want an internship in a law firm or under an advocate?”

This time, I couldn’t see the front of the room anymore. Every single hand in the room was raised eagerly.

These here, were first year students of a highly professional course, right in their freshman year, not even having finished with a semester’s exam. It baffled me that all of them were expecting to get through to established law firms with the skill set they possessed.

This is, however, not a unique case I am citing .

In my experience with volunteering ,and interacting with students from different backgrounds, over just a period of a little more than a year, I have come face to face with highly ambitious young students, dreamers and ideal goal setters.

Youth today is not patient with working their way up the ladder. Youth today want instantaneous results. While of course, this is a developing sign of ambition and high hitting mind sets , it might not always lead to sustainable results.

How can a first year Law student expect to work with an advocate without ever having participated in writing , research or speaking competitions? How can a first or second year engineering student expect to get hired in top companies without having the technical knowledge required ? How indeed, can a media communication or humanities student expect to get through to some of the top brand names in the industry without having put in months of toil working for small scale entities first?

These questions direct us to the importance of sustainable skill development in modern youth. Aided in every aspect of life by super fast technology, youth is wired since the time of birth, to demand quick results. It has to happen now, or never.

Alarming statistics from  ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook 2016, Trends for Youth states that global youth unemployment has hit the mark of 71 million in the year 2016, and is anticipated to increase. Major cause, among others, being the lack of proper sustainable skill development in young people, and their high rising expectations from the education system in which they are stuck. This ideally includes their school and their college, the two entities where education is driven down through outdated and spoon fed process that expect young students to develop and grow.  

It is quite apparent that the existing system is not able to equip youth with a set of skills that make them readily employable in the real world. While schools and colleges keep harping upon the importance of soft skill development side by side to maintaining a strong CGPA, the question remains, what is actually being done to aid such development in students? It is so easy for me , being a student of such an institution to ask such a question, because it is so easy for me to notice the reality.

Such glaring and obvious situations must prompt institutions to direct all their energy into driving down soft skill development in young people starting from a young age. Such glaring and obvious data demands a revolution in the existing education system. A revolution that is big enough to challenge a staggering figure of 71 million unemployed and unemployable youth labor force.

While we keep exploring the effects , causes and remedies of and to the growing concern that is youth unemployability, these are just few of the several questions that we, youth, educators, and employers, need to answer and find solutions to.

Are we looking for a short term achievement to put down on our CV, or are we looking at a long term sustainable career?


Written by: Upasana Ray


Why should you include experiential learning opportunities in your curriculum?

I joined AIESEC in the beginning of my second bachelor studies. After my first degree, I did not feel that I had developed the competencies needed in the working life, so I decided to change to a more practical university. I have always felt I learn more when I can explore and do it myself, instead of just cramming theories from books. But after a few months of studying and being in AIESEC, I realized how much I had learned through volunteering in AIESEC and how this experiential learning differentiated me from my peers. At the same time as I was learning about market research in class, I was able to run my own marketing campaigns in AIESEC. This really enhanced my learning experience and made me more prepared for the future.

Experiential learning can be defined as learning through experience and self-reflection. Knowledge and skills are learned outside of classrooms through for example internships, field trips, projects or field research. And it’s not only me who has noticed the power of experiential learning. More and more educators are exploring this way of learning. So why should you include experiential learning opportunities to your students?

  1. Accelerates learning

The learning process becomes faster, when we are more engaged. As experiential learning demands practice, problem-solving and critical thinking, our brain is constantly working and learning new things. In class it is easier to just zone off and not pay attention, whereas in a practical learning environment your students are always stimulated.

  1. Prepares for the real world

When learning by doing, you get the feeling of how it is in the real working world. Your students can connect the theories they have learned in class to practice, which makes it easier to remember concepts. They learn to use critical thinking and to overcome obstacles. Unlike in traditional educational methods, in experiential learning students will get to know how it feels to fail, but most importantly, how they will come back up from the failures. This will make them stronger people, who are not afraid of taking risks.

  1. Enhances creativity

In experiential learning, young people will face a lot of obstacles and challenges that they have never faced before. To overcome these, they need to get creative and seek for new ways of doing things. This is very different from the traditional educational mindset of being either right or wrong. In practice, there are many ways to solve a problem, and when facing the opportunity to solve one, a young person can come up with innovative ways to solve it.

  1. Increases self-awareness

When tackling tasks and obstacles in practice, young people can clearly realize what they are good at and where do they still need to develop. On the other hand, when they do overcome an obstacle, they will get a feeling of fulfilment, that will make them want to tackle more obstacles and in this way, learn even more.

  1. Personalized learning experience

Thanks to the different past experiences, everyone will react differently in different situations, having a different understanding and different results. In experiential learning, young people are also able to learn at their own pace. This makes the whole learning experience more personalized. When something becomes personal, we also tend to learn quicker and remember the information easier.


There are many ways to increase experiential learning opportunities that will make your students learn better even in the more traditional ways. For example, try bringing real life problems for the students to solve in smaller groups or organize simulations where each student has a different role to fulfil. After the task, have a debrief discussion about the experience linking it to theories that have been discussed in class. These types of activities will enhance your students’ learning experience and make them more prepared for the future!


Written by: Alexandra Byskata


The I in believe

If you have been staying up to date with everything AIESEC related, you probably know that we have big goals. We are always talking about creating an impact and making the world a better place. And it’s true! To actually even get close to achieving the 2030 agenda, we all have to pitch in. Power in numbers and all that stuff.

You know what they always say! You can’t force anyone to do anything. They have to do it themself. So instead of trying to tell you what to do, I simply want to make you aware of that little part of you that I believe is inside all of us. It’s that part that believes that the world can be a better place. It’s very challenging to keep that part alive these days. I was riding on the subway today, reading the newspaper and page after page, there were so many reports of negative and harmful things happening all over the planet. If you turn on the news, or start scrolling on your smartphone, chances are you will encounter some kind of information about a benevolent occurrence somewhere. And yet, people still fight. People still think that it can be better. Why else would there be charities and people risking their lives every day to try to make the world a better place. But it’s not just up to them, it’s up to all of us. To become a great leader, you have to believe that you have the ability to make a difference in the world. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking stuff, you don’t have to cure cancer (although that would be very appreciated). But even just having a positive impact on the people around you, is making a difference. You can go as big as you feel comfortable with, but  first you have to believe that you are capable of it.

Harvard Business School has a definition of leadership that I find very compelling. It reads “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Keep that in mind for future reference.

Working in an organisation that strives for peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential, believing that we can create an impact is kind of expected from you. I personally believe that we all create ripples every single day that make a difference, often times you will not even remember when. Because every one of us perceives the world in a unique way, we can never know what impact our actions have on others. But it is important to always try to act in a way that can create positive change, to believe that just because you are one person doesn’t mean that you are insignificant. There are many famous people who were just one person but have managed to inspire millions and pave the way for a better future. Don’t ever underestimate yourself.

Do you think you can make a difference?