Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Youth Exchanges and Networking are Growing World Wide, Alive, and Well in Canada

This month, I have decided to discuss networking from students prospective and how students can find ways to develop their leadership skills and become better networkers and ultimately better leaders. There is no age discrepancy in regards to how networks can be built and how one can increase one’s social capital by getting to know others throughout the world. Canada has always had a place at the world table primarily due to its views of freedom, fairness, democracy and diplomacy.

In my search for stories for this month’s column, I came across AIESEC. AIESEC, (pronounced as one word; originally an acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) is an international, not-for-profit, non-political, organisation run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education. It describes itself as “The international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society”. Its international office is currently in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The AIESEC network as of February 2008 includes 30,000 students in 113 countries at over 1100 universities across the globe, and realizes around 5000 exchanges yearly.

AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization, is the international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential to have a positive impact on society. In partnership with business and higher education, AIESEC has over 50 years of experience in developing high-potential students into globally-minded responsible leaders. AIESEC’s innovative development process consists of unmatched leadership experiences and global internships.

In Canada, AIESEC Canada Inc, is headquartered in Toronto, is a registered national, not-for-profit organization present in 26 leading Canadian universities and consists of 1800 students and recent graduates in 27 universities.

For the past 50 years, Canadian companies have relied on the Global Internship Program to meet their employment needs by gaining access to a global talent pool of the best and brightest young responsible leaders. The Global Internship Program is a tailored and reliable turnkey recruitment and community integration process for high quality international internships. Companies of all sizes have used the Global Internship Program to build their leadership pipeline, increase their competitiveness, and fuel their innovation.

Over the years 5,000 global internships annually in business, technical, and development sectors, 23,000 high-potential students developing into globally-minded responsible leaders annually with a network of one million alumni worldwide including heads of state and prominent leaders.
Each country (sometimes group of countries, or territories within a country) with an AIESEC presence has its own national Member Committee (MC), which coordinates activities for that area. Members also belong to a Local Committee (LC) for each university or city. As stated on its website, AIESEC strives for “positive social change” by using the “AIESEC Way” The AIESEC Way is described as a way of reaching “Peace and fulfilment of humankind’s potential.” According to AIESEC, there are six main values, namely Activating Leadership, Demonstrating Integrity, Living Diversity, Enjoying Participation, Striving for Excellence and Acting Sustainably.
On an individual level, AIESEC aims for the AIESEC Experience, which aims at “young people to discover and develop their potential”. There are five key principles, namely Taking an Active Role (main goal: proactive behaviour), Developing Self-Awareness and Personal Vision (assuming responsibility), Increasing Capacity (learning theory and applying it in practice), Building a Network (networking) and Challenging Worldview (holistic world view).

So Networking is alive in the world and the Canadian Chapter of AIESEC is well established and highly represented in Canada. AIESEC features many prominent world leaders including past President Bill Clinton, Kofi Amman and many prominent business people in Canada representing such firms as the Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, AGF Mutual Funds and Cossette Advertising.

For more information on AIESEC in Canada, check out

Kensel Tracy, The Marketing Coach is a Senior Partner with the Corporate Coachworkz Inc. located in Chelsea, Quebec and is the President of Business over Breakfast (BoB) Clubs of North America. If you have an interesting topic on networking in Canada, you can contact Kensel at or

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