My name is Laura and I had the privilege of participating in an internship abroad through AIESEC’s Global Community Development Program (GCDP) this past summer. Before I discuss my internship experience, I’ll give a little information about myself. I come from a Chinese background, but I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and have lived and studied here all my life. This past December, I completed the requirements for my undergraduate Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of British Columbia, and will be graduating officially at the end of May in 2013. I finished my degree with a joint concentration in Accounting and Business Technology Management. Some of my favourite pastimes include reading novels, drawing and painting, and playing Ultimate Frisbee.
I first heard about AIESEC a year ago from a friend I met while on exchange in Shanghai during the summer of 2011. He told me about the global presence of the organization and some of his experiences at international conferences. It wasn’t until a few months later, near the end of 2011, that he told me to check out the international exchange opportunities AIESEC offered. I attended the information session in January 2012, but opted not to apply as I wanted to spend my summer doing a paid internship at a company in Vancouver. In truth, I have been interested in working on a community project abroad and making a positive impact since I was a high school student. AIESEC’s GCDP offers the perfect opportunity for me to achieve this, but I felt that it wasn’t the right time for me and I wanted to obtain some more relevant job experience before graduation. As summer came around, I found myself with no job offers and I decided that I wanted to make the most out of my vacation by travelling and volunteering abroad. Hence, I ended up applying and being accepted into the GCDP.
The next step was to search for a suitable internship that both interested me and would provide me with the experience that I was seeking. I applied to multiple postings, and ended up accepting the 6-week Program Assistant for Implementation and Monitoring position at Telecentre.org Foundation, an internship raised by AIESEC Ateneo de Manila in Manila, Philippines. Telecentre.org Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates on a global scale by implementing programs that supports the establishment and sustainability of telecentres in grassroots communities (primarily in developing countries). My role was to provide support for the Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign, one of their three programs. This campaign is a global initiative that seeks to empower women through access to information, digital technology and other opportunities that allow them to acquire digital literacy. Some of the activities I engaged in include marketing through social media, contacting potential partner organizations, and participating in location scouting for future telecentres to be built outside of the city. This internship interested me because the organization’s mission was inspiring, the work tasks were diverse, and the position gave me an opportunity to work in a professional environment, while also allowing me to help those in need. In addition, the Philippines is one of the places that I have wanted to visit but never had the opportunity to in the past.
Beyond the skills and knowledge I gained from participating in the internship position itself, the most valuable things I obtained and what I enjoyed the most about my AIESEC experience in the Philippines are cultural awareness and the lasting relationships I have established. By speaking to locals and asking questions, I began to understand more about local Filipino culture and societal issues. I also had the opportunity to live with other international trainees, as well as spend time with AIESECers from the Local Committee, which have allowed me to build friendships that I can see lasting for a very long time. I regularly keep in contact with several of the people I’ve met, including my colleagues at Telecentre.org Foundation. My favorite parts of my internship were spending time with my housemates, eating amazing Filipino cuisine, and living life as a local in a foreign country. All of these have made my AIESEC internship experience memorable and truly one of a kind.
By Laura Wang.