Youth Student organisation AIESEC is hosting its 62nd International Conference in the city. Jayashree Arunachalam takes a closer look.

They look like your average college students, clustered around cafe tables and engaged in earnest conversation. Move a little closer, and it gets slightly greyer. Terms like talent management, incoming exchange and competency mapping are freely used, peppered with unheard of acronyms like LCP and PAI. The answer's simple – meet your average AIESECer.

Connecting people

In layman's terms, AIESEC is a global youth organisation that moulds young leaders and is driven by social change. To make it a little more exciting, Hyderabad's local chapter is currently playing host to the top dog of all AIESEC conferences, International Conference 2010 or IC, which has over 700 members and alumni coming together from over a hundred countries for seven days of networking, discussions and sharing ideas.

“This is where it all happens,” says Abhijit Sunder, currently the vice president of finance for the AIESEC India team. “On a personal level, this is my first international conference and it's a great learning opportunity. We had sessions on self-reflection and character building that help you inside AIESEC and outside of it.”

And IC appears to be AIESEC in a nutshell, from Global Village, which had delegates setting up stalls representing their countries with information, food and bric-a-brac, to the Youth 2 Business forum held at the Indian School of Business, featuring panel discussions and workshops by representatives of leading corporate giants like DHL and Microsoft. “We're internationally supported by companies like Alcatel Lucent and PWC, and nationally by the Tata group and Godrej,” Abhijit adds. “All that reflects on the content of our sessions.”

The cliché about AIESEC is its erstwhile work-hard-party-harder reputation, but the current troops mean business. Discussing various projects on issues like HIV/AIDS and CSR that are kick-started alongside local, national and international corporate companies and NGOs, these AIESECers take their work very seriously. “AIESEC allows you to strive for excellence,” says Alexander, formerly of the local Heidelberg and Bamberg chapter in Germany till 1999, and now working for Deutsche Telekom, Germany's largest telecommunications company. In Hyderabad to attend IC, he says, “It allows you to make mistakes and learn from them before you hit the real professional world. You feel more equipped.”

Ultimately, what it's all about is the edge in terms of personal growth, embellishments to your curriculum vitae, and opportunities waiting to be taken. Case in point is Katy Lo, former vice president of AIESEC Hong Kong and currently a part of IC's organising committee. “It's just being able to experience something different from my normal life,” she says. “I'm with likeminded people from all over the world, and helping organising something as massive as IC alongside very diverse people. It's a dream come true.”

AIESEC Chennai alumnus Suneil Chawla agrees. Currently working for a management consultancy in Mumbai, he says, “It connects you with people from all over the world, allowing you to make friends and discuss issues with a different perspective. It makes you realise that you're one big family.”

Whether it's the experience of years or simply the need to do something more productive post-college hours, this is the opportunity to meet new people and try new things. Katy is off to Hungary post-IC for an AIESEC traineeship, where she'll work with a school that she connected with through the local Hungary chapter. She says, “My AIESEC experience will continue.”

AIESEC Hyderabad is recruiting from September 2 to 5. Call Pallak at 9866859425 for more, or log on to www.aiesechyderabad.com.

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