Abandoning your country or your education?

It’s crossed many of our minds, and for good reasons. Maybe the employment opportunities after graduating are better somewhere else than in your home country. Or perhaps the quality of education in general would be higher in a foreign university. Learning languages, challenging yourself or just wanting to see the world. A lot of people dream, but if you end up sending the application in, you might become one of the 4.5 million young people globally who study abroad.



For most people it’s not an easy decision to make. There’s a lot of different factors that might tilt the scale one way or the other for an individual. When a lot of people feel the same way and actually pack up their bags and leave, we can start talking about brain drain. Brain drain is what we call the phenomenon when the brightest and the most skilled people move abroad following better employment opportunities. This obviously has consequences for the economy.


So hold on –  should you feel guilty?


Well it’s not all that simple. Brain drain has another side to it: Brain gain. Although brain drain was seen as a damaging thing especially for the economies of developing countries for decades, it seems like there’s actually a brighter side to it too. So is it good or bad? It depends. In Canada, a quarter of international students end up getting a permanent residence. They stay,  some of them for good, and they’ll never work in their home country again. What the brain-drain hypothesis fails to take into account is that people send home remittances. According to the World Bank, workers from developing countries sent home a whopping $325 billion in 2010. In some countries, such as Lebanon and Tajikistan, remittances account for more than 20% of GDP, hardly just pocket money.



Obviously it’s a complicated thing. But if remittances are taken into account, some suggests that emigration can actually turn brain-drain into brain gain; so that emigration has a net positive effect on the home country. And not all of those who move abroad stay forever. Studies show that an international education does boost your job prospects back home. Many also come back, and people don’t come back home empty handed. The connections and ideas that you’ve gained abroad can help the economy of your home country too.


So no, you shouldn’t feel guilty. And there’s nothing wrong with just wanting to see the world. But if you’re taking that step – think about what that actually means, not only for yourself, but for the people around you. How to  maximize the impact you can make, and you know that you’ll be contributing to the greater good.

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.


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?


Hacking “culture fit” at the workplace

Culture fit and diverse talent. Fundamentally, these two concepts are symbiotic — meaning, they are not mutually exclusive. But what has been happening for a while is, on the path of establishing an enduring company culture and an employee profile with a set of competencies and skills, organizations have compromised the diversity at the workplace.


“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

-Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google


Mind that I am here not only talking about diversity in terms of gender, race, religion, generations and so on, but also in terms of academic backgrounds and previous working experiences. One implies not only diversity but also inclusion, the other implies valuable cross-sectoral perspective.


Very recently at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect 2016, the HR responsibles of Pandora Media talked about replacing the term “Culture Fit”, which is a term that potentially excludes great talent, for “Culture Add”, which allows more diversity to the workplace, yet with the same amount of quality on the workforce.


Today, it is very important to have a more flexible work environment and to be more flexible ourselves in terms of job allocation and career planning, because a lot of us aim to work with different functions from what we’ve studied. With new technological alternatives coming up, our academic formation has been each day deviating from the traditional protocol.


In today’s scenario we have lawyers working with marketing, we have economists working with HR, we have accountants leaving the corporate field to become cooking chefs. That brings both more possibility for us as professionals, and more diversity to the workplace.


So when an organization starts recruiting from the “Culture Add” perspective, it also starts giving more value to the unique and special aspects an employee can bring to the workplace beyond a degree, and effectively what the workplace can gain from these.


At the same time, when we talk about diverse work environments it is also important to talk about how inclusive they are. A great example of inclusiveness is Google’s established practices of empowering their employees to address unconscious bias at work, creating communities and networks for their minorities and ensuring equity in their processes.


These are definitely important while shaping a global and contemporary organization that respects each professional, their dreams and ambitions – and knows how to utilize them for the organization’s benefit.


Hacking the “Culture Fit” aspect, means also being ready to embrace whatever is different and learn from it – and become globalized in all perspectives. That is definitely what we millennials look for in a place to work.

Written by: Lara Silverio

Still relevant.

For the past 2 days, countries in Europe have been celebrating Victory Day, the day that the Second World War ended in Europe. The United Nations declared the 8th and 9th of May as the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War. It draws attention to what was the most important outcome of the war. That is not which countries were on the winning side, but what was the price to pay for the war. It is estimated that over 50 million people died because of the war, both civilians and soldiers. Many countries lost a significant portion of their population, and perhaps the most shocking event of the 20th century, the Holocaust, took place. The scale and the brutality make the second world war the deadliest conflict in all of human history.



And for the hope that that record will never be broken, AIESEC was founded. It can be hard to relate to how people felt in the years following the war. There was a relief that the killing had ended, but there must have been a sense of disappointment in humanity. The Nuclear bombs developed and used during the war showed how efficient the human mind is with coming up with ways to obliterate one another.


A group of young people came to the conclusion that the key to preventing a war like that ever happening again was cross-cultural understanding. Zealous nationalism had created an atmosphere of hatred before the war.  By developing leadership among the youth we would prevent this from happening. They founded AIESEC, an organization striving to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential.



Unfortunately conflicts haven’t ended, but nothing in the scale of the second world war has happened since. As time passes, there aren’t so many people left anymore who actually remember the war, reminding us how it was. History is bound to repeat itself, and that’s exactly why it’s important to carry on the legacy. The economic stagnation has weakened the belief in future for many, and now we’re hearing voices reminiscent of those before the war, looking for “the other” to blame. And this is not just in Europe, but all around the world. Although AIESEC was founded in Europe, it has grown into a truly global organization being represented in more than 120 countries and territories. AIESEC aims  to engage young people all around the world and to challenge them. Increasing cross-cultural understanding is still relevant, and this is why AIESEC keeps working on developing leadership in youth through providing cross-cultural experiences. This is the AIESEC way. AIESEC is still relevant, but aren’t we all responsible for achieving peace? We place our confidence in youth, yet leadership must always be taken up by the individual. It is a quality that can be developed in anyone.



Survival tips for a post-truth world

“Apple Introduces Revolutionary Laptop With No Keyboard”. On the surface everything about the video seems right. The tone of voice is convincing. Even the graphics look just like from a real news broadcast. It is what seems to be a tech news report from the unveiling of Apple’s latest product. There’s an interview with a company representative and apple fans eagerly expressing their excitement about the product  – a laptop without a keyboard and with just one big button. But would Apple really replace their laptop’s keyboard with a giant wheel and one big button? There’s something a bit off about it.


The Onion has managed to baffle a lot of people with this and other satirical fake news stories. They’re made to look exactly like real news and that’s what makes them so funny. The stories themselves are absurd, but the convincing setting is deceiving.



Unfortunately not all fake news are made with the intention of humor. The same kind of methods are used by those manufacturing fake news to forward an agenda. It has become so common that Oxford Dictionaries chose post-truth as the word of the year. It looks like we’ve entered an era where appealing to emotions is more important than facts. We’ve always had those outlandish tabloid headlines, but social media has put a twist to the whole thing. A lot of people get much of their news on platforms such as Facebook.


 Photo by Augustas Didžgalvis CC BY-SA 3.0


Today marks the World Press Freedom Day, and though most of us would agree that press freedom is a good thing that has a positive effect on society, fake news is an unfortunate downside of it. It’s hard to predict if this will go on forever, or if things will take a turn for the better in the future. One thing is for sure though, all of us need to take more responsibility in checking the facts. Young people might be digital natives, but we also need to learn how to be critical and how to spot the stories that are credible, and those that are too incredible to be true.


In order to do this, here is a list of useful things to consider before deciding to believe a news story:


  1. Good old source criticism

Is the website or publication credible, that is, are they known for providing factual information? And also, what kind of sources do they themselves use?

  1. Read the whole article

Many sites try to get advertising revenue through clicks by using eye-catching titles, but it’s a good idea to read the whole article to see what the article is really about.

  1. Who wrote it?

Does the writer have an agenda they’re trying to forward, or is there a good reason to believe they’re striving to be neutral?

  1. Check for Satire

Like the Onion articles, some pieces might be humorous in nature.

  1. Check your Biases

Does the article make you angry? If it does, it might be doing that intentionally. Think if it’s too good – or too bad to be true.


Part of being a world citizen is being interested in world issues, yet the factual pretense of issues presented by the media should challenge the viewer/reader/listener into becoming a critical media consumer. Sustainable development Goal 16, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions brings forth the notion of freedom of expression; yet in this post-truth world, what’s free and what’s true?


Let us hear your thoughts.

Be all talk!

When you think of a great leader, what is one of the first things you think of? I think of somebody who can communicate well, whether it’s holding a captivating speech or just discussing an idea in a small circle of people. How can you become a great communicator? Unfortunately, it’s not easy. It’s not just about speaking clearly and having good body language. Maybe the most important part is knowing who you are talking to. It’s great to be prepared and know what you’re talking about, but if you don’t know how to approach your audience then you might as well not speak.

Any team that you have ever worked with, has probably included people from different backgrounds, with different personalities and with different approaches. A great leader knows how to engage all of these people and communicate in a way that everything necessary is transmitted. For example, if you are a manager and want to pass on important information to all of your employees, you might not want to actually say it yourself, because some people don’t trust information passed on from management directly. In such a case, you may want to let a team leader, somebody that everybody trusts and is in contact with a lot, convey the message.

The most important rule to remember, is to always stay positive and calm when communicating. You usually cannot affect the level of understanding people have of certain matters, some people might understand you quicker and for some it may be a longer process. They might not always understand your words, but they always feel your attitude and that is what determines how hard they will try to understand what you are trying to communicate.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”  – Tony Robbins

The truth is, to truly become a great communicator, all you have to do is practice. Talk to different people from different backgrounds, ask for feedback and try to improve yourself constantly and over time you will be able to convey any message to anybody in just the right way.

Do you consider yourself a good communicator? Become one through an AIESEC Experience! Find your opportunity at opportunities.aiesec.org


Don’t worry, Be happy

What is the one thing that everyone has in common? We’ve all got 99 problems. No matter who you are, or what you’re doing, it’s likely that you will run into a speed bump eventually. If you are in a leadership position, your chances increase. So what can you do to avoid this?

I’m sorry to tell you this but the answer is nothing. Problems cannot be avoided, otherwise perfection would be reality. But the truth is that nothing ever goes perfectly. Instead of trying so hard to focus on perfection and trying to make sure that everything is ideal, try to work on your reaction to situations when something doesn’t go as planned. You have pretty much 3 options:

Number 1: You completely freak out, lose control and cry yourself to sleep in the fetal position.

Number 2: You just ignore it and hope for the best.

Number 3: You try to stay positive, open minded and look for a solution.

I don’t know which one of those sounds the best to you (we all enjoy being in the fetal position occasionally), but I would say number 3 is a safe bet. The truth is that when things go wrong, all you can do is try to fix them or try to find an alternative. Sometimes, the alternative even ends up being better than the original, but you can’t and won’t be able to experience that if you just freak out and freeze.

As Willie Nelson said Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Almost as important as thinking positively throughout hardships, is that the people around you do the same. If you are in a leadership position, you have to lead this attitude by example. If others see you calm, with a smile on your face, they will know that everything is okay and they will also be calm and think clearly. Because, let’s be honest, if in five years you look back at a bad moment, and it won’t seem that bad, then your problem really isn’t that big. And with a calm demeanor and positive thinking, you can always come up with some solution that will smooth things over.

So next time when you find yourself in a difficult situation, and you feel like there is nothing else that you can do to fix it, take a moment, breathe and stay positive, then you are sure to come up with an alternative.

Leadership skills – the missing piece for youth employment?

Universities teach a lot about hard skills and theories, but when it comes to being able to implement the learnings in practice, a lot of young people find it difficult. This has also been noticed by many employers who say that young people are missing the soft skills needed in a professional environment. It is important that young people know how to manage time correctly, communicate effectively in different environments, and can get through challenges when facing them. But if universities are not equipping young people with these skills, they need to search elsewhere for the experience.

At AIESEC we have noticed the need of better leaders in the world and believe that leadership can be developed in anyone. AIESEC’s unique leadership development model seeks to prepare youth to take a stand on what they care about and become capable of making a difference through their everyday actions. We believe that by equipping young people with these leadership skills, they will be more prepared for the future. All our products develop four leadership qualities that are related to current world trends. These qualities are self-awareness, world citizen, empowering others, and solution oriented. Below you can read how these leadership qualities are relevant professionally for young people.

  1. Self-awareness

The declining need for formal leaders has brought about the need for more self-aware leaders. A self-aware leader knows what they are good at, what is important to them and what they are passionate about. When young people know themselves they are able to make better decisions for their careers as well. The youth of today want to work for a company that shares the same values as them and that does something good for the world. Being aware of their own values and passions helps them choose this kind of organisation and this increases employee retention. In addition, a self-aware leader focuses on their strengths over weaknesses, making them more ready to take on new challenges at work, not letting their weaknesses slow them down.

  1. World citizen

With globalisation, the business world has less and fewer borders. However, globalisation has also brought growing nationalisation in many countries. This is why being a world citizen is an increasingly important skill to have in the working life. Being interested in the world issues and especially taking responsibility for improving the world are essential to do business in a globalised world. AIESEC gives young people the opportunity to challenge themselves in another country. They are able to learn about the people and culture of that country making them more equipped to work with people from different backgrounds. This doesn’t only apply to an international workplace, but any job where there is a need for teamwork and interacting with other people.

  1. Empowering others

The quality of empowering others is needed to navigate the complex and interconnected modern world. Communication skills are vital for any relationships to work, so young people need to be able to communicate effectively in diverse environments to get their point clearly across and avoid any chances of misunderstanding. It’s also important that young people know how to collaborate with other people to achieve a bigger purpose. Lastly, by developing the skill of empowering others, young people will be able to contribute to the personal development of others and empower them to take action. This means that they can empower their co-workers to reach higher and challenge themselves.

  1. Solution oriented

The fast pace of the modern world also makes it a more uncertain place, and young people need to be prepared for change. Instead of being frozen in the face of a challenge, young people should show resilience and be flexible. The uncertainty of constant changes might seem frightening, but by staying positive, a young leader can steer their team forward despite the uncertainty they might face. This calls for the willingness to take risks when they are needed. This quality is very important in a working environment, as you can never know what changes might happen the next day economically or politically. A solution-oriented leader does not let failures hold them back, but gets up and continues to fight towards what they are aiming for.

We believe that if we develop these four qualities in young people, it will make them ready to face the challenges the world has in front of them. They will also be able to turn the theories and knowledge they have learnt at university into practice, making them more employable in the long run.

– Written by Alexandra Byskata

No moral compass

While growing up, we are all subjected to different environments. In fact, not two people on this planet have had exactly the same experiences. That is what makes each of us unique. All these different circumstances are the reason why each of us develops specific views, specific values and what later becomes our personality. However, often times these are all subconscious. We don’t even realize what our values are.

Imagine this. You are in a new environment and you don’t know anybody. You decide to talk to some people, have some conversations to feel out who you could potentially be friends with. If you don’t even know your own personal values, then how are you supposed to find someone who you will actually like? Or picture this. You are on a job hunt and you’re looking at different companies. If you just pick any random one, how can you ensure if you will really enjoy your work there? Now, if you notice the companies, whose visions and values reflect your own, the chances for job satisfaction increase.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy E. Disney

Making decisions is a daily part of life. We all have to do it but it’s often very hard. If you are not familiar with your own values, you can never be self-aware enough to make the right decisions and that will put a real dent into your leadership abilities.

In AIESEC we try to define the word leadership with 4 characteristics, one of which is self-awareness, for how can you lead others to be the best version of themselves, if you are unaware of your own shortcomings. How can you motivate people to strive for more and to be passionate about their work, if you don’t know your own feelings and values? The answer is, you can’t. There is a very easy fix for that. Be conscious. Take time to really think about yourself and your life and the experiences you’ve made. Think about what kinds of things make you feel positive and which make you feel negative. By being conscious, you will discover your deepest personal values and views in no time and this will positively impact many aspects of your life.

As Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”

Do you know your personal values?


An AIESEC Experience can help you understand them better. Find your opportunity at opportunities.aiesec.org.