Program provides international work experience

For some, global internships through AIESEC turn into job opportunities.

by Jade Lomeli

James Katsev always dreamt of France. From the time he was 11 years old, he studied the language, culture and history of the country, but never thought he’d get the chance to visit.

But through a global student-run organization, he spent last summer in the place he always wanted to be — and got to put it on his resume.

The Minneapolis chapter of AIESEC, or Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, puts global internships within reach for University of Minnesota students.

According to the group’s president, Mamta Mandan, the organization is run like a business, where the 40 local members work to make international work experience affordable for their classmates.

“At the end of the day this organization is run by students,” Mandan said. “We understand what it is like to not have money.”

She said AIESEC is a global organization that was created by students in the 1940s after World War II ended.

The founders hoped to ease the political tension in the area, and “believed the best way to do that was through exchange,” Mandan said.

Today, 110 countries host about 10,000 annual internship opportunities that can last anywhere from five weeks to a year.

Internships range from teaching students English and American culture to management and finance.

Mandan said the cost of interning abroad through the program can be as low as half of what it would cost to study abroad, depending on the host country.

AIESEC, or a company or university it partners with, provides participants room and board.

“We are non-for-profit,” Mandan said. “What we do is for a greater purpose, not for getting money out of students.”

More than just a job

Each student has a unique internship experience.

Sebastian Heumann, a German student currently interning at a Minneapolis finance company, said it wasn’t difficult to adjust to life in Minnesota, despite having to get used to the English language.

“Even little things seem interesting with language and I’m getting used to it all the time,” Heumann said.

Geoff Enright learned how to cope with the unexpected at his internship teaching English in Beijing, he said.

“I can use it towards a future job because I’ve been thrust into positions where I have been able to adjust to whatever is coming my way,” said Enright, a senior studying Chinese.

After his year in China, Enright said, coming home to see his friends made him realize how much his life changed.

“It was a big experience for me,” he said.

Katsev, who was able to go to France for the first time through the program, said he received a job offer from one of the schools where he interned.

“It’s an option,” Katsev said, adding that internships turn into job offers for many “AIESEC-ers.”

Mandan said interning abroad sets participants apart from others when they begin their job searches.

“At the end of the day, employers are looking for diverse people and experiences that show someone’s personality,” she said.