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

2017: Here’s Four.

As the new year begins, so does a page unfold to a new chapter marking 365 pages of you and what you can do to make the best -and worst- out of this millennial age.

New-Year-Goals

  1. Typically, travel.

Be it for a week, six, or 40. Do it.

The notion of traveling abroad brings forth numerous layers to be discovered. Ibn Battuta, a medieval Moroccan traveler and scholar, said that travel leaves you speechless, and then turns you into a storyteller.

As millennials of the 21st century, the world is slowly becoming ours as a whole, where the boundaries and limitations of citizenship no longer stops us from exploring what’s beyond our territorial comfort zone.

Embark on a journey that combines adventure with volunteerism that contributes to the UN’s 2030 agenda of sustainable development, you become what we call in AIESEC, a Global Volunteer.

 

  1. Read more

I know, I know, it’s a typical suggestion often appealing to a few of us especially with the rise of the digital age, where stories go viral or are rather more interesting if they were in video form.

Knowing that millennials live in an an age where they compete to innovate, develop and grow and thus seeking purpose and meaning behind their work, reading comes as their fuel.

So for 2017, read more.

Reading books that range from classic novels, fiction and non-fiction, to political and cultural essays and management magazines, you’ll give yourself a boost in the following categories: self-discovery and self-assessment, memory improvement, smarter decisions, and most importantly less stress.

My personal recommendation:

- The Next 100 Years by George Friedman,

- A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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  1. Participate: Your society, your government, your life.

One of the guiding principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is participation as a fundamental right. Today, movements to empower youth are bigger than ever, especially as the united nations is exerting major effort that includes the Not Too Young to Run campaign, launched by the office of UN Youth Envoy and the UNDP.

In AIESEC, we believe that we must engage young people and decision makers through cross-sector collaboration. Our youth movement is united for positive change. Through the YouthSpeak survey collecting over 160,000 responses, we are able to convert energy into action. We continuously invite youth to voice their opinion and have their voices heard, create an empowered society for positive impact, and  develop leadership through the development of their communities.

  1. Stay informed

Recent events ranging from the U.S. Elections, Brexit, attacks in Berlin and Istanbul, and the situation in Syria and Yemen amongst so many more atrocities our world faces today has brought forth an unfortunate phantom called ‘fake-news’.

As youth, driven change-makers, citizens of humanity, and most importantly the future of this earth, we have a responsibility to seek and challenge information to better understand the world that we will face every single day.

So choose your channel be it following social media feeds, downloading news apps that send you regular notifications, watching the news on TV or reading your daily local newspaper.

Journalist Rachel Shabi wrote [for Al-Jazeera] that propaganda is a part of war but that the media had been broken, unable to usefully analyze, report or inform.

Why is this important? My personal input is that, to develop leaders that are solution oriented and identify as world citizens, an important step is to stay informed. Because being interested in world issues and showing resilience in the face of challenges requires knowledge that is well-rounded and media that is well-consumed.

 

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?

Top 5 Things Keeping Youth Complacent

Hi, I’m Jessie, and I’m part of the North American millennial generation. And as someone who identifies as part of this generation, I have no problem telling you that I believe complacency runs rampant among North American youth. This is not a particularly new idea; we’ve heard before that millennials are notorious for being narcissistic and lazy, and while studies on millennials in society report mixed results, there is no doubt that we, as a generation, are struggling to find our place in the world.

What is often overlooked here though, is how destructive complacency can be to the individual. To become complacent is to stop growing, and when there is stagnation, there is no progress, and thereby no success. Here are the top 5 things stopping millennials from engaging, and essentially keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Entitlement

Often, entitlement shapes our thinking in way that we don’t even realize. We have grown up as the most privileged youth in the world, and it’s very easy to get stuck thinking we have everything, this is all there is, and that we “deserve” this and that. (Indeed, one of the nicknames for the millennial generation is the “Most Coddled Generation”.)

As North Americans youth who have all been recipients to education, and so on, we all fall prey sometimes to the Western point of view—a worldview that has historically disregards all other cultural thought. This thinking dictates—and dare I say, can cripple—our reactions to other cultures, and limits us from cultural understanding.

Disillusionment

Sometimes, youth can’t be bothered about active participation because they do not believe that they can make a difference. They don’t see the value of their individual active engagement. “I’m just one of many”, “Who really cares?” — these thoughts perpetuate a cycle of indifference and inaction.

What’s more, in today’s society, it’s almost cool not to care—or rather, it’s only ‘cool’ to care about certain things. Regardless, this feeling of disillusionment is reflected in the number of youth voters in elections in recent years, which are disappointingly low. Youth need to understand that their age cannot keep them down. They need to be shown, and not just told, their value to society, and be motivated to become worthy of it.

Ignorance

The lack of understanding — true understanding, which requires time and effort on the part of the individual — is perhaps the reason for many problems today. In an era of information, it is just as likely to receive false information as it is true. What’s more, with everyone’s biases, it’s very easy to let someone else make the judgement for you. In doing this, we relinquish the responsibility and thereby the consequences of potentially being wrong.

This ignorance extends itself to all the many ways we interact with society itself. It affects the way we view the world, our willingness to experience it, and also the way we view ourselves. We become less effective as contributors to society when we are unaware of society and our own role within.

Individualism

The millennial generation grew up hearing about how each of are special and unique, and will go on one day to change the world and whatnot because no one is exactly like us. It’s not a far stretch to see this is not true—at least, not innately. We make ourselves special, and whatever impact we make on the world is a result of us actually consciously demonstrating effort and passion, and working hard at it.

Having been constantly told how unique we are has led us to become more self-centred. We play more value on our own careers than on society, failing to make the realization that both are interconnected. While individuality is by no means inconsequential, millennials need to realize that our individuality both enhances and is enhanced by the society and context we are placed. in.

Technology 

Millennials have grown up with a society that has become increasingly saturated with technology in all its various forms. What we have not been prepared for, however, is the adverse effect that technology has had on the interactions between people in real life. When online communication takes precedent, it is at the expense of affecting people’s ability to truly connect with someone in person, offline. We lack intention by letting technology do all the talking for us.

Stop and think, who are we, outside of our social media profiles and what we share online? How would people view us, had we not Facebook, or Twitter, or the numerous other social platforms? It is the lack of questioning that leads to things like slacktivism, where we share things not only because we care, but because we want others to know it.

The world has a lot of say about the millennial generation. Our expectations in life are different are those of our parents. We are lazy, passionate, impatient, ambitious, open-minded, and disengaged all at once. Having been told to “follow your dream” has led us to become more lost than ever. Youth engagement in society has been steadily decreasing; North American youth are complacent.

What, then, is the solution?

There is a quote that states: “We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.” Never has that statement been more true than today. In exploring the world, one gains more knowledge of different cultures, and understanding of where they fit in the world. A wider perspective will also let one see the importance and value of things.

What’s more, this “world” doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and flying all around the globe. It can be a simple as stepping outside of your comfort zone to shake up your own worldview a little bit. It’s important to ask questions, but equally important to go and find out the answers yourself. Being aware is only the first step.

How Going Abroad Taught Me About Life – Everyday Leadership

Contributed by Janet Ong

Here are the stories from my exchange experience that surprised me in the end. This is my experience with AIESEC NCTU in Hsinchu City, Taiwan as part of the the project Connect the World from September to December 2013.

This cultural exchange program was designed for us exchange participants to make an impact on high school students by sharing things about and from our countries.

Surprisingly, this exchange program taught me a lot about life. I was approached by one of the teachers in one of the high schools I was teaching at. The teacher knew I intended to go to law school because of how I had introduced myself in her class. She wanted to ask me for more details on law school because she was very worried about her daughter, who was on the verge of giving up law school.

I told her that I wanted to specialize in criminal law and in the field of human rights because I wanted to be a court lawyer and be of service to people. She asked me how I already knew which specific field in law I wanted to pursue this early on. I simply told her that I always remind myself of why I wanted to be in this field to begin with. I remind myself that I am doing this not only for the sake of my career but also for the sake of the people who are in need of help and that I think being a court lawyer best fits this interest.

The exchange program is more than the learning you get from the four corners of the classroom, it is the learning from an experience in life.

She asked me this question so that she could help her daughter who was about to graduate but was attempting to give up. Surprisingly, she really wanted advice from me. I told her to tell her daughter to remind herself why she chose law and to remind herself of the positive things that happened in law school despite the difficulty she was currently having. The teacher said that her daughter was worried about the bar exam. In response, I told her that everyone was scared of the bar exam and even I was afraid of it. I told her that working hard for a dream would achieve good results.

What was the surprise here? After saying those things to the teacher, I  saw myself as the daughter who was worried about law school. Then I reflected on those words I said to the teacher. It made me realize that I can manage as long as I believe in myself. Friends and even former professors have been telling me that I can manage, that I have good academic standing and a keen interest in the classes in my undergraduate course in psychology. I get positive feedback from my classes. What is there to be afraid of? I am afraid of failing, but who isn’t? I am afraid of falling, but who isn’t? Everyone is. It is a matter of facing your fears.

Everyone thinks, I lack the courage to face them; I do not believe in myself; I do not trust myself. If I believed in myself, I would have the capacity to say I can do it. Then I realized, am I not like her daughter too? Afraid? I gave advice that the teacher appreciated and believed that it would be of help to her daughter. I realized, I can do it. I can pursue my dreams despite the struggles; believe despite the hardships.

I got letters and messages from my students, teachers and friends telling me I am a funny and jolly person. They said I have this motivation and energy that influences other people. It has always been a surprise for me to see in the letters or even hear this feedback because I do not see myself like that. I believe that I gained more confidence and courage from this project than anyone could ever imagine. I remember the poster/ad of AIESEC DLSU saying, “Get lost and find yourself”. I am indeed discovering a lot about myself from feedback from other people.

I realized now that we need other people who are courageous enough to tell us about ourselves. Feedback from other people no matter how minor can help us realize what is really happening in our lives. This is why I have to say that I am very glad that I met the people I did, experienced the things I experienced. If not for those, I would not have found myself. I would not have discovered something more about myself. I would not have been the way I am right now. I may have had a tough rocky road along the way but everyone does, right?

I believe that things happen for a reason. Now, I believe that these things had to happen to open my eyes and see the reality. I am grateful for the good and bad. If not for the bad, how could I have appreciated the good so much? Right now, I just do not know the right words to express how much AIESEC, my fellow trainees, teachers, students and friends have helped shape my life for the better. It is quite sad for me to leave because this is the place where I learned a lot, not about academics, but about life itself. It is a place where I found good friends. However, I have to say goodbye, face the things that I have to face back home and continue on with my life. People come and go in our lives but it does not mean that they will be gone from our lives. The people I met will always be treasured dearly. Everyone may be far away from one another but distance is not a barrier to maintain the friendships that we have created.

The world has still a lot to offer. The world still has a lot of surprises. There is still a lot more to learn from. Just smile at the world, and it will surely smile back at you. But this experience is one of the best I have ever had. This is my second home—Taiwan. This has been my Wonderland.

I am happy that I was here. I am happy that I was able to convince students who did not participate to participate. I was able to convince students who did not smile, to smile. I was able to see how keen and eager the students were whenever I was presenting. I am happy that I was able to see how the students’ eyes brightened. I am happy that I was able to see and hear the students laugh, joke and even be loud for a good cause. These were the actual experiences I had with my last class: the most difficult but the best class I ever had.

My last class was supposed to be the most unresponsive and I was told that the class does not really answer questions. However, it was different when I was there. They were welcoming and happy. My last class is where I can say I was really able to Connect the World and fulfill the goals of the project. This was the class where I can say that I really was able to make a difference. These are irreplaceable moments in my life that can make me say and realize that, “Hey! I did make a change”. It may have just lasted for a day, an hour, a minute or even just a second, but the little things showed me that one person could really make a big difference.

This is the teaching experience.
This is the experience of life.
This is the AIESEC experience.
Thank you very much.

After the exchange experience, where am I now? I had the courage to take up law school and continue my AIESEC journey. I am currently a first year student of law and a member of the Finance and Legal Affairs Department of AIESEC DLSU. What am I grateful for? I am grateful that AIESEC shaped my life and happy that I was able to contribute to AIESEC’s vision of “Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind’s potential”

Here’s a tribute for my AIESEC experience:

“The exchange program is more than the learning you get from the four corners of the classroom, it is a life experience. It is about finding who you are and learning more about yourself throughout the journey. I began to open up locked chests that I didn’t know existed within me. Moreover, I’ve realized how life is so wonderful and it never fails to give you those little things that make you smile.
It’s also about never giving up and never losing hope.

It was also in this exchange program that I found what I am passionate and dedicated about — and AIESEC is one of those things. AIESEC taught me how to stand up for myself and be a leader — a leader who will be able to make a wonderful and positive impact in my country and also in the world.

Lastly, it is indeed an honor and a privilege to be part of AIESEC. I will forever and always be thankful for AIESEC.”

“This story was written in contribution to the AIESEC Everyday Leader Series, that showcases stories of everyday leaders who are changing the world. Share your story with the world.

Are You Multitasking Your Brilliance Away?

Projects, meetings, emails, notifications, social media, a million tabs on your internet browser, the disruptions go on.

Is multitasking  harming your ability to work effectively?

If often takes a reminder on why it is so important to focus.

Our desires for accessibility lead to an inability to access anything.

Why does our brain feel overloaded as we drown ourselves in multiple tasks? This is a result of chronic multitasking, and it isn’t healthy for your productivity, health or quality of work.

An article on Time quoted a 2010 study by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency Inserm that showed that when people focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task.

If our limits are two-tasks at once, anymore we will most likely make errors.

What’s the solution?

Nass recommends a 20-minute rule. Instead of switching tasks minute to minute, allocate yourself to 20-minute chunks to a singular task, focus, and then move on.

Here’s a little humour, but also practical solution to multitasking, monotasking.

The picture below shows what happened to Paolo Cardini’s barbeque on his 3 minute TED talk when he was multitasking while barbequeing.

Similar to what happens to us when we “multitask” while trying to do something, we burn away our quality of work.


Re-think how you approach your work by focusing one singular task and providing high-quality attention to your work, as opposed to spreading yourself thin, and get nothing done.

Time is our most precious resource. Don’t multi-task your brilliance away, because imagine how much time, effort and productivity you lose simply because of a lack of focus.

Sit down, open one tab, and get it done.

What are your best-case practices for focusing? I’d love to hear them and share it. Tweet me at @gdondon and comment below.