Category Archives: MC

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

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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!

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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.

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!

My Reason Why

In AIESEC, we place a rather high premium on expectations. We like to manage the expectations of everyone we work with, from our colleagues, the students and recent graduates who join our programs, to the companies and organizations that choose to partner with us.

I am now in my fifth week of living in Mongolia, and frankly, it is only now that I am understanding why our organization values expectation setting and management so highly. I didn’t know what to expect out of the city of Ulaanbaatar, the country, my role, nor the organization. At the time, I saw this as a good thing, as I wanted to enter Mongolia with a blank slate, without good or bad impressions.

But when I got here, the experiences I had the first few weeks seemed to subconsciously implant a new set of expectations in my mind:

  • Every trip to the Mongolian Immigration Agency will be filled with despair and aggravation.
  • All that members of the expat community seem to do here is complain about life in Mongolia, and whine about how they are all still single.
  • Everything is cheap, except when people find out that you are not Mongolian, then you get charged foreigner-tier prices.
  • Mongolian food is completely and totally different to what I would usually eat.
  • Winter is coming, and when it comes, it really does come. Prepare to die.
  • Internet here sucks.
  • The concept of customer service is not as strong here in comparison to other places I have lived in.

Part of what I find wrong with expectations setting and management is that people are conditioned to expect a difficult time. Or at least, that is how I find it with me. The new set of expectations that evolved in my mind conditioned me to expect the worse, to expect to be frustrated, to expect to get delayed, to simply expect a difficult time. The new set of expectations creeping up in my mind seemed to implant the idea that there was nothing that I could do to counter the difficulties that I was facing.

What I have observed, at least in my case, is that the best way to manage expectations (both pre-departure, and post-arrival expectations) is to ensure that the reason why I came to Mongolia to work for AIESEC is strong enough to overcome both small and big frustrations that come with living and working here.

During my stay in Singapore earlier this year, I met Alex, a good friend and colleague of mine when I was working for AIESEC Singapore. Around the time that I met Alex, I was considering applying for AIESEC national roles in various countries. It was all fun and good, discussing all the possibilities, until Alex asked the most annoying question:

“Why?”

To be frank, I could not answer the question, which is why I got so annoyed, both at him, and at the fact that I simply had no straightforward answer to provide. So, for a good four weeks, I suspended the idea of applying for AIESEC national positions until I figured out the reason why I wanted such a role with AIESEC so badly.

At the end of that four week period, I came up with my reasons why:

  • I want to have a unique and memorable team experience. I want to be able to work with a dedicated and passionate group of people towards the goal of developing both ourselves, and the AIESEC organization in the country that we are in.
  • I want this experience to help me in my career in the future, and I want it to serve as a reference point for me when I make critical decisions as a manager or a leader.
  • I want to live and work in a country that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to go to, if it were not for AIESEC.

Despite the day-to-day challenges of the role, and the lifestyle changes that I had to make as a result of being an unpaid volunteer, I found that my reasons why have been more than sufficient in keeping me motivated, and in driving me to push on regardless of the difficulties I face, challenge expectations that have developed in my mind the last few weeks, and when possible, change the difficult circumstances that I find myself in occasionally to suit my ends better.

I have an awesome team that has an awesome drive to achieve an awesome vision. I know that what I am doing now will help me in the long run. And at the end of the day, I am also fulfilling my dream of living in another country working for AIESEC. Strong enough reasons for me to come to Mongolia and to keep me here for a year.

AIESEC Mongolia’s National Team is Complete!

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AIESEC Mongolia MC 2013-2014! Back row, l-r: Me, Nathan. Front row, l-r: Peggy, Dominic, TK . Photo by TK

On Friday, the last and final member of the MC team arrived in UB. It is official, AIESEC Mongolia’s new National Team for the 2013-2014 team is now complete and ready to go! After dealing visa issues and delays, this really is a huge victory for us as a team. Needless to say, I am super excited.

This weekend, we went on our first team outing, and first night out as a team, and it was great. Looking forward to working with, living with, and getting to know this awesome group of people over the next year!

I am now a Registered Alien

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I am slowly, but surely, navigating the Leviathan that is the Mongolian Immigration Agency. Very happy that everything has worked out, and that I’m now considered “legal” in the country! Dominic figured things out for us at the beginning, and now I’m starting to better understand how things work, so hopefully in the future things will be much easier for the interns and other AIESECers that come to Mongolia in the future!