In an interview for an executive position on a club on campus, the interviewer asked what leadership meant to me. I gave a vague answer (something I’d Google’d the night before) about working with others and managing team. Needless to say, I got a rejection email a few days later. I think we’ve all been there; or at the very least, someplace similar.
Leadership is a sought-after but difficult to define term. Is it measured in how I can get the people around me to do my bidding? Or instead is it the “vice president” or “president” title I have?
I had no clue. At least, not at the time.
Fast forward a few months, I joined AIESEC as a general member. I was on the team that sent local students abroad on professional internships.
Through meeting and talking to people interested going abroad and with AIESEC members around the globe, I was exposed to an array of diverse perspectives. I became more aware of and formed an opinion on world issues. I became more of a world citizen.
Things didn’t always go according to plan in AIESEC. Someone would stop replying to my messages, or a student would be disappointed when she was not accepted to a specific opportunity. Instead of wallowing in the frustration, my mind started to automatically turn to a solution. Find a new angle of presenting our opportunities and contact my peers. I became more solution-oriented.
The longer I stayed in my role, the more I became aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I got better at getting a large amount of work done under pressure, but I realized I procrastinate way too much. By being more self-aware, I got a better idea of how to improve myself.
Through AIESEC, I met like-minded youths from all over Canada and communicated with similar people from around the world. I started to get a particular gleam in my eye when I talked about world issues and youth leadership, so much so that my friends and family noted the difference. I started to empower others in my conversations and with my passion.
Leadership through AIESEC is defined through the four values of: being a world citizen, solution-oriented, self-aware, and empowering others. I found a definition that was not a cliché, and had measurable qualities. Leadership, while often used as a buzzword, takes on a more tangible meaning in AIESEC. These are the four main qualities needed in someone who can effect positive change in the world.
Leadership can still mean different things to different people. But it was AIESEC that gave me a concrete definition of the oft overused word. It wasn’t just about managing a team; it was more than a nice title in an email signature. Leadership is a way of behaving and seeing the world. Through AIESEC, I became a leader.
This post is also available in: French