AIESEC (pronounced “eye-sek”) is the largest student-run organization in the world. It offers students the ability to gain leadership skills by promoting its Global Internship Program. It prides itself as an international platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential.
The organization is completely powered by student volunteers who provide other students with the opportunity to go on an international work-term. In the process, students also gain valuable skills they can apply to their professional careers.
Cheryl Tan, an AIESEC SFU alumnus (and a current SFU School of Communication student), knows this first-hand. During her time with AIESEC, she has taken on roles that fit with her passion while also gaining valuable work-related skills. She joined AIESEC SFU in 2008 as part of its Communications portfolio and has held several roles since then: first, as a graphic designer and Co-Marketing Manager, then as a Team Leader of Awareness (External and Internal relations), and finally as the Vice-President of Communications. She also served as the Organizing Committee President for Coastal Conference 2010, student leadership and personal development conference for over 100 university delegates.
As one of the newest members of AIESEC SFU, I was curious about what to expect. Cheryl kindly took the time to answer some of my questions about her involvement with the organization and what her AIESEC experience has been.
What initially got you interested in AIESEC?
I liked the initiative that they put out to the student community – empowering the leaders of tomorrow – and I knew that that was something I would love to be involved in. My goal has always been to create a positive impact on peoples’ lives, and AIESEC seemed to be an organization that will allow me to do so.
What are some of the major challenges you’ve faced as the Organizing Committee President (OCP) for the Coastal Conference 2010, and how did you overcome them?
The logistical aspect of the Coastal Conference 2010 was a challenging feat as it took place a month after the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. We faced major financial issues largely due to the economic downturn and the Games. Companies were hesitant to sponsor us, which almost led to the cancellation of the conference.
However, I’m proud to say that due to team effort from my entire Coastal Organizing Committee and the AIESEC SFU Executive Board 10/11 (who helped in the non-stop sponsorship calling), we’ve produced effective results. The time and efforts that the Organizing Committee put out throughout the last month before the conference were commendable, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to be an OCP. I’d like to say, it was definitely a team effort that made the Coastal Conference 2010 a huge success.
How were you able to use your passion for marketing communications in the roles you’ve served with at AIESEC SFU?
My responsibilities while undertaking my roles with AIESEC SFU varied to huge extends, from the creative brainstorming of marketing collaterals for recruitment to managing a team of executives to oversee all aspects of communication for the local chapter – brand exposure, information technology, and internal and external relations.
My passion for creative marketing communications has been utilized and has only managed to grow bigger as I was allowed to see it from different perspectives.
What has been the most rewarding part of your AIESEC experience?
The most rewarding part has been the conferences that I have attended. Those conferences allowed me to meet like-minded and career-driven individuals like myself from all across Canada. I have not only extended my networking circle from all across this country with vast land, but I also made some really valuable friendships that I’d treasure for years to come.
AIESEC is entirely organized by students for other students to go abroad, and, thus, provides a unique platform for students to develop their leadership potential. As Cheryl can attest to, some of the skills students can develop through this organization include public speaking, networking, event planning, and time management.
AIESEC SFU recruits new members every semester. Look for them in the next Club Days or learn more about becoming a member.