Category Archives: AIESEC

Eventful six weeks

It’s been a while since I posted. I forgot to pay the bill for my website’s host, so the blog was offline for a while, but it seems that everything is set again.

It’s been an eventful few weeks, spanning several cities, so I’ll do my best to cover them in one blog post!

Winter National Leadership Development Seminar (WNLDS) in Erdenet

Train to Erdenet

Train to Erdenet

We traveled by train to Erdenet, the second largest city in Mongolia, for the Winter National Leadership Development Seminar, held the week after I came back to Mongolia from the Christmas/New Year holiday.

The train on the way to Erdenet was fun, but we were also very busy with getting ready for the conference. We had to be careful with our belongings when we stopped over at Darkhan, as the train doors are opened for vendors to sell food and snacks to passengers. There’s an open definition of ‘vendor’ – so that meant that pretty much anyone could enter the train, and this meant thieves and pickpockets.┬áThere was a suspicious kid (around 12-13 years old) eyeing us in our doorless cabin – I’m sure he knew we were foreign with all the English we were speaking. We stayed awake the entire time we were in Darkhan (around an hour). We survived with none of our belongings stolen!

WNLDS in Erdenet

WNLDS in Erdenet

Overall, the conference went well. It was nice to see the delegates engaged in the sessions and eager to participate. What I really liked about the conference was how people took the presidential election seriously. Our members showed genuine interest and concern in how they would cast their vote for the next national president. This conference was special because it was the first time MCP candidates were competing for the position in person, instead of via a shoddy Skype connection. What made the conference even more special was that Saikhnaa was elected the next President of AIESEC Mongolia for the 2014-2015 term, the first ever Mongolian AIESEC member to hold the role.


Sudden Return to Vancouver

A few days after I returned to UB from Erdenet, I had to fly back to Vancouver for the citizenship test. I won’t divulge too much details, except to say that I passed and that my life in Canada is pretty much set after my MC term and AIESEC career ends! I got back to UB last week.

Admitted to DAP

Over the Christmas holiday, I made the decision to apply for the Diploma in Accounting Program with the UBC Sauder School of Business. I was admitted to the program a few days before I went to Erdenet. I decided to accept the offer a few days later after I made the final decision to go through with it. Aside from the career path that I have elected to take, the other major and immediate effect this will have on me is that my MC term will be cut short by about two months, as I plan on starting the program in May. I will be leaving Mongolia by the third week of April.

I think that pursuing this route will be a good decision for me. Everything that I have done in AIESEC the last five years and five months has culminated in my decision to pursue this career path. I will definitely blog more about this, but this will be it for now.

To the future

photo(4)

Me, Anand, and TK. Nathan is behind the camera.

It is already December, which means that it is almost the end of 2013. It also means that I am almost halfway through my volunteer stint with AIESEC Mongolia. Increasingly the last few weeks, my teammates and I have been talking about the future. What are we going to do next? What does the future hold? What are we going to do after AIESEC? What are we going to do after Mongolia? Is what we are doing now worth it?

We’ve been discussing these issues on an on-again, off-again basis, but was nice to get some outside perspective as well. Anand was one of the first “non-AIESEC” people that I met in Mongolia. TK, Nathan, and I hung out with him at his flat for a pizza and movie night, followed by a rather intense discussion of the possibilities that await us after AIESEC. This was a discussion that I definitely needed.

I suppose that by being in Mongolia, we are all pursuing a rather unconventional, and perhaps less comfortable, but nonetheless still very rewarding journey. It’s okay to create your own path, but it’s also okay to return to a more set and comfortable life afterwards. Focusing on career is fine, but you also have to keep in mind the other aspects of your life as well.

Anand is leaving Mongolia at the end of this month. Cheers to Anand. Here’s to the future!

November Wrap-Up

It’s been a while since I posted. November has been a bit crazy, so I will provide some brief updates!

Winter is coming

1397657_10153527574960541_1621662084_o

Note that it is still coming. It hasn’t arrived yet. Apparently, this is not yet winter.

Career Week

Choindon, team leader for the Career Week Organizing Team, getting interviewed on Mongolian National TV!

Choindon, team leader for the Career Week Organizing Team, getting interviewed on Mongolian National TV!

TK and the Organizing Team for Career Week worked extremely hard to organize Career Week, which took place last week. Media appearances on national TV, as well as events in four participating universities meant that the event was successful.

Recruitment

Interview Day - assessing applicants for the Global Community Development Program!

Interview Day – assessing applicants for the Global Community Development Program!

In conjunction with Career Week, we were also recruiting students to go on internships abroad through the AIESEC Global Community Development Program. Recruitment is still ongoing, with another Interview Day happening next week!

New Intern!

902655_10151999421732590_661412744_o

Annisa’s birthday! Photo by Annisa

Annisa, our new intern from Indonesia, has started her Teaching Internship with Zokhiomj University. She celebrated her birthday with us just a few days after arriving in UB.

Approachability

A few weeks ago, I was in the office delivering training sessions to some students who recently joined AIESEC. During a discussion about first impressions, one of the new members mentioned that I needed to make myself more approachable.

In many ways, I got the same feedback from other people, including the MC team here in Mongolia, as well as the MC team in Singapore.

Two of my MC teammates mentioned that they were scared to apply for the Mongolian MC based solely on the “professional” picture I submitted as part of my application, as well as the content of my application form and YouTube video. Peggy mentioned that she had the impression that I would get into fights with her; but then both of them mentioned how their initial impressions differed from reality.

I have noticed over the last few weeks that members have a tendency not to talk to me when they have questions, even when it comes to exchange. This has led me to think: am I really that unapproachable?

I know that, at times, I give off the impression that I am serious and hardworking – and I hope for a majority of the time, the impression does match reality. But am I perceived to be so serious to the point that people don’t like talking to me?

Perhaps it is because I am unusually quiet when I am around people that I don’t know. It is true that I am seen as one of the quieter members of the MC.

Perhaps it is because I am serious? When people show up late to a meeting, I tell them that they need to show up on time to the next one. I always make it clear that punctuality is important, but perhaps it is being taken the wrong way?

This has been challenging to deal with, as I do want to project myself as hardworking and serious, but at the same time, I want people to feel like they can talk to me at any time. I’m not too sure how to respond or to deal with this issue right now, but at least I know that approachability is something that I need to work on.

Always there when you call

One of the unfortunate aspects of my job is that I am on-call, 24/7. Whether I like it or not, despite blocking off 10PM-7AM as my official “sleeping hours” on my Google Calendar, I am always on-call. The last two weeks, I have been starting the workday at 7AM and ending at least at 9:30PM. Skype meetings with partner companies and intern candidates have taken place anytime between “business hours” – which is really any time. I made a commitment to better balance my life when I started this MC term, and it seems like I am failing massively in meeting this commitment.

Our membership recruitment period is drawing to a close this week, so hopefully we’ll return to a somewhat normal and acceptable lifestyle, along with the appropriate sleeping patterns, soon. I’m hoping that the members we have recruited will make us proud. The feeling of empowering them to take over from us by next year will make being on-call 24/7 worth it.

Spark Up! Conference

Spark Up! Conference took place this weekend at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, and was AIESEC Mongolia’s first major event for this term. This event was geared towards returning and new university students throughout Ulaanbaatar, and was organized with the idea of getting them to realize the importance of taking advantage of their university experience, and to get them to learn more about AIESEC and its programs. The conference was held primarily in Mongolian, with little to no translation into English, which makes Spark Up! my first ever conference that I attended that was not in English, with no translation at all (well frankly, it was geared towards Mongolian students, so it made sense to have it in Mongolian).

The conference was fun, and it was great to see the delegates leave on Sunday night happy, and eager to learn more about AIESEC. However, the most important part of the conference was the post-meeting. During the post-meeting, the conference team took the time to discuss what could have been done better, and what can be done better for similar events held in the future. I wasn’t completely involved in organizing the conference and delivering the conference sessions; however, I did observe that it was quite difficult for the members to deliver, in large part because of their lack of experience. For almost all of them, this was their first time working on an event. I know that it wasn’t easy for them, and I’m sure that they learned a lot of things during their experience in organizing this event, which will make them better prepared in organizing events in the future (both in and out of AIESEC).

This is me speaking briefly during the conference. Taken from the AIESEC Mongolia album.This conference was not meant to be an entry point into AIESEC – that’s what Boot Camp is for, which will take place this coming weekend. Boot Camp is meant to serve as the official entry point into AIESEC and its programs – including the exchange programs. I’m definitely excited to see how everything will turn out.

I haven’t really had weekends this month, so I’m definitely looking forward to October. Work-related activity won’t really die down next month, but at least I’ll have most of my weekends back.

Stressful September

The last few days and weeks have been fairly challenging. The matching process for our interns has pretty much preoccupied my attention – there are many qualified interns on myaiesec.net, but the difficult thing is ensuring that they are interested in coming to Mongolia, and that they actually qualify for the appropriate visa that the host organization will be bringing them on. We’ve made progress in that there are applications being received and interviews are taking place, but the difficult thing is ensuring that candidates have the appropriate expectations not just of their potential internship, but also of Mongolia as well.

Recruitment is happening at the same time. We have our engagement event taking place this weekend, and our recruitment conference taking place the week after. If this were any other AIESEC country, I think that recruitment would have been easy to organize and manage, but because our organization is doing this in Mongolia for the first time with big ambitions, it is a bit harder. We are slowly but surely changing minds about what we can do and what we can achieve. Hopefully, everything will work out well.

First Contract Signed

581565_10153208712430541_1951993044_nJust wanted to share a quick update: signed my first ever contract in Mongolia! Officially closed a deal with an IT company here to bring in a Project Management Intern through the AIESEC Global Internship Program. The intern will be working with this company for six months, will get a monthly salary, and accommodation, so it is a really good deal! Really excited to deliver on this account, and even more excited to meet the intern that will eventually work for this company! It’s not about the money or the numbers, it’s about the lives you impact.

Changing Minds: Getting Ready for Recruitment

AIESEC Mongolia's leadership team working hard during our National Recruitment Meeting!

AIESEC Mongolia’s leadership team working hard during our National Recruitment Meeting!

August was a tough month. Having only 3/5 members of the national team out of the country for almost three weeks was be difficult, especially for the 2/5 members who stayed behind. While in Vancouver and certainly other chapters worldwide routinely expect to operate independently to run member and intern recruitment for the start of school, this expectation is new in Mongolia.

Part of the national team’s focus this year is to normalize local chapter operations – in other words, to get our local chapters to shoulder on more of the responsibility in getting things done. Changing mindsets is a difficult undertaking, and there were times where I felt like I had to give “tough love” and push members more than they were used to. I think that over the next few weeks, we’re definitely going to see more pushing happening.

We did see some progress in changing minds though – the local chapter leaders are starting to gradually assume more responsibility, especially as more of our members return to Ulaanbaatar for the start of school. It is awesome to see AIESEC Mongolia’s leaders excited – now its just ensuring that we all stay on course.

August Roundup

It’s been a while since I posted. Things have been so crazy and so busy lately that I failed to up with my blogging schedule over the last three weeks. Anyways, here’s an update:

  • Dominic, Peggy, and TK are now on their way to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to attend the 2013 AIESEC International Congress. Wish I were going! Nathan and I are the only members of the national team left in Mongolia to keep things afloat and moving over the next two weeks.
  • I’ve been managing various accounts I inherited from the previous team. I am very pleased and happy to report that I am now in the process of bringing in an intern from India and Hong Kong for two organizations in Ulaanbaatar!
  • I’ve been getting to know both the team (who are also my flatmates), as well as Mongolia a bit better. As a group, the team and I went out to Play Time, a live music festival that took place out on the countryside just outside UB. It was great, live music and DJs all throughout the day. Unfortunately, TK lost his wallet on the bus ride going back.

Trying to balance work and life has been quite difficult the last few weeks. I’m very ambitious with what I want to get a lot of things done for work, but I also want to ensure that I have it balanced out, and that I am having fun at the same time. We’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks!