Program offers work abroad

Students and recent graduates interested in an alternative to studying abroad can participate in a non-profit exchange organization that matches applicants with internships abroad.

First created by European students after World War II, L’Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Econmiques et Comerrciales, or AIESEC, now functions in 84 countries and more than 700 universities worldwide.

“AIESEC is run by students for students,” said organizer Mike Guarino. “We have an insight into what (the students) are interested in.”

In the past year, the GW chapter has sent 10 students abroad for internships, called traineeships, ranging in length from three to 18 months.

“It’s a great alternative to study abroad, mainly for people who missed doing it, or those who liked the experience,” said Sumeet Khemani, vice president of pubic relations for the GW chapter of AIESEC.

The chapter prepares students for traineeships by assisting with the details of travel such as attaining a visa, getting proper health insurance while abroad and booking plane tickets.

An additional $455 fee is then required once the student is successfully matched with an employment position.

This year, the organization received more than 100 applications from students and recent graduates interested in the program.

The GW chapter of AIESEC has sent students to Brazil, Peru and Colombia to work for companies such as Embraer and Pricewaterhouse Cooper.

Senior Maria Wittman, president of AIESEC at GW, lived in Katowice, Poland while working for Centrozap, an international trade organization that imports and exports steel products.

“I met a lot of interesting people and they were definitely interested in (having) me,” Wittman said.

While abroad, the students connect with members of the AIESEC chapter in the host country. AIESEC settles students in appropriate housing and helps with adjustment into a new culture.

“I definitely feel (AIESEC) will probably be a different option, a different route, than trying to search (for jobs) on the Internet,” said junior Geoff Cleveland. “They set you up so it seems more stable than searching on your own.”

Although AIESEC is generally geared toward business and informational technology majors, Guarino said depending on experience, liberal arts students also participate, often matched with an internship teaching English.

Many students see AIESEC as a good post-graduation option, as it allows students to travel abroad and work without jumping directly into the American job market.

“I’m hoping there may be (an opportunity for me) out of the country since the job market isn’t good here,” senior Alanna Elie said.

Guarino said AIESEC is less expensive than other organizations, and the traineeship salary covers the participants’ cost of living in the host country.

Depending on the program or place of employment, knowledge of a foreign language may not be necessary for service.

Since the March 2 deadline, eight GW students have been accepted to the program for the summer, Khemani said.

Khemani said that the majority of students participating in the program are recent graduates looking for a different type of experience before going to graduate school, and that most travel during the summer.

“It’s a great business traineeship,” he said. “You get experience from out of the country.”

For more information about AIESEC and for updates on upcoming information sessions, e-mail aiesec@gwu.edu.

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