When I submitted my online application for AIESEC UBC, I really didn’t expect to do so much work before I even got accepted to the organization. For someone like me, who normally wears jeans, sweaters and flat boots for the sake of arduous commuting across the Lower Mainland on a daily basis, getting all dressed up while maintaining a reasonable degree of comfort for commute was a bit a of work. But all in all I made it, on time, on a Sunday! This miracle was surely a good sign. By the time I entered the meeting room in the Sauder building for Newbie Day, I felt like I had already accomplished the hardest part of the entire assessment process, and I was somewhat right.
The entire assessment process was pretty much fun and games. You might imagine AIESEC as a cult of arrogant elites who are dead serious and all about business, but everyone in this cult is actually very outgoing and easily approachable. Okay, I know “cult” isn’t a great word, but I can’t come up with a term that describes a group of people who are extremely competent, yet at the same time, also dorky-funky. Something must be up amongst these beings.
I was already taken by surprise at how easy-going these people were at the orientation session. They were just like any typical college students, but, like I said, something was different. I try to think of them as soufflés—the cake-like outside that resembles most desserts, and the mellow inside that gives you this extra heavenly sensation. I think it’s this “extra heavenly sensation” that attracted me and many other applicants who were at the newbie day—we wanted to be soufflés.
The atmosphere there was quite incredible. The AIESEC leaders were always energetic, and drew me into the group. I felt comfortable connecting with other people like it was the most natural thing. I didn’t expect myself to be so outgoing in a situation where everyone was practically a stranger to me. At the same time, I could also see many others who were probably as shy as me in their everyday life start to genuinely enjoy this atmosphere.
It was hard not to enjoy it. All the activities required you to just open up, be creative, be wild, be anything but dead serious. In the PowerPoint Karaoke segment, I knew I had to unleash all my inner creativity when I had to explain how drinking orange juice is viable reason to join AIESEC, and watched others do the same thing while attempting to advertise straws as an attraction of living on campus. Everyone got a good laugh out of this activity.
And the dances. If you have never seen a group of 40-50 people sharply and elegantly dressed in business attire dance together, join AIESEC. This is the one of the phenomena that you will witness. To be honest, as a physically pathetic and hopelessly uncoordinated person, the choreography was quite challenging – it required personal style, enthusiasm, a good memory, and a sense of rhythm. Not an easy task, but I will try to master it someday. Someday.
When it got down to the “serious business” of individual interviews, it was still not that serious. For me, it really was about explaining how I am just a kind of artsy nerd who spends far too much time on internet, so there wasn’t much doubt about what I want to do in AIESEC—work with social media. I wouldn’t want to waste all the skills I gained from high school art courses either. Other portfolios did look quite tempting, but it was really clear to me that I wanted to start my AIESEC experience with Communications, and I did do a good job of convincing my interviewers that I was the perfect candidate for being a social media specialist—I mean, I am in the cult now and am (or will be) a soufflé. Incorporating what I have just learned from my psychology class, I was obviously in “flow” when I had the interview – I felt like I knew the perfect response to every question. It doesn’t really happen that often to me – I mean, you should see all those dreadful physics tests I wrote in high school.
Looking back at all of this experience, it was a miracle. Everything went unbelievably smoothly. As a first-year Arts student just starting to get the hang of university life, I really didn’t expect myself to accomplish this much, but I did, which further proves that AIESEC is a wonderfully magical cult. A one-and-half-hour commute on public transit in high heels was definitely worth it.
By Maggie Song, Communications