I became a student at the Marseilles School of Business (nowadays Euromed Management) in the fall of 1984, class of ’87. At the beginning of the school year, an ‘association fair’ was customarily organized for the new students to learn about the school’s extra-curricular activities. There was the Marketing Association that paid students to conduct all kinds of surveys – from counting cars in the busiest streets of the city to interviewing airport passengers on their travel experience, the Exports Association where students were commissioned by local companies to study their potential markets abroad, the Stock-Exchange Association, the Sports Association… And of course, there was AIESEC.
I joined AIESEC because the idea of working abroad quite seduced me, and I was hoping I would be able to get an internship, hopefully long-term, and hopefully in the USA. At the time, the best way to increase one’s chances to obtain this kind of internship was to join the Executive Board, and wholeheartedly contribute to the development of the local committee’s activities.
So, from simple member the first year, I became the ‘reception officer’ the second year, which meant that, on top of the internship-finding activities, I was responsible for taking care of the international interns who came to Marseilles. My role consisted of finding accommodation, picking them up at the airport or the train station, taking them to their new abodes, accompanying them to their workplaces on their first day to introduce them to their managers, and entertaining them during weekends whenever possible. They were always fun and easy to get along with, which I believe is a characteristic of AIESEC students.
During my third and last year, I became the …. well, I don’t recall what kind of officer I was, but I organized a one-week seminar on the theme ‘Exports: Option or Necessity?’ Those were exciting times: I had to find the speakers, the sponsors, the accommodation, the transportation, and of course organize the ‘study tour’, the unavoidable conclusion to any AIESEC seminar. More than 100 AIESEC students from 24 countries attended the seminar. I was too busy handling the logistics to fully participate in the seminar, or even in the study tour, but I believe everyone had a great time and a lot of fun. On top of learning essential information about exports of course!
Because I was so active within the Local Committee, I got a 12-month internship in Philadelphia, PA, that started right after graduation. My visa was renewed for 6 more months, so altogether – thanks to AIESEC -I spent a year and a half working in the USA. Not bad for a French woman’s first work experience!
But I believe the best experience I had with AIESEC was the time spent helping to organize and attending national and international meetings and events, in France and abroad: Nantes, Angers, Strasbourg, Sweden, Spain, Hungary, California, those were amongst my best memories ever. I was always in awe to see that these young men and women coming from so many different countries could communicate in the same language – English – and have so much in common. This, I guess, is the true AIESEC experience.
Today, I live in Canada. If it hadn’t been for the broadening international experience provided by my AIESEC internship in the US, I believe I might never have moved here, and my life would probably not have been so interesting. But that’s another story…
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Recently, Freddie took the time to host a movie production workshop for AIESEC UBC, and with the generous help from Freddie, we have produced our very own short movie. If you would like to take a look, it’s here.