I’m graduating in less than two months. I didn’t see this one coming. Obviously, I am aware of the fact that time was limited to begin with but, somehow, I’ve gotten used to studying. That’s what I do. That’s all I’ve been doing since I was seven. Well, not really. In the last couple of years I’ve been saying “yes” a lot.
The other day I was looking at some of my colleagues, trying to figure out how they manage to be so stressed and bothered by a couple of exams. All of their worries were concentrating towards knowing the inside out of a subject, after a year or, better said, four years of doing just that: going to some classes and taking exams. Nothing more than what was asked of them, nothing extra-curricular or even for a personal passion, just going to the university and complaining about the hours, the professors, grades, exams. Sometimes they wouldn’t even attend classes. Boring. What they had in common is that they said “no” a lot.
I’m not going to act like I’m better than them or superior in any way. I’m just going to talk about these last years from my perspective. Of course I also went to classes, maybe even more often than they did, I took exams and yes, I also stressed about grades and my future. But I said “yes” a lot.
I said “yes” to, not one, but two student organizations, one of which became my second family – AIESEC. Not because I think it would look irresistible in my CV, but because I saw an opportunity to learn more and do more, and I took it. I said “yes” to four years of volunteering summing up two projects, one year as a team manager with a team of over 20 people, learning another field of work, different from my study field, 15 conferences and people. Amazing people, mentors, friends, people I look up to, whom I can always invite for a coffee and maybe even discuss job offers with. I said “yes” while having the same 24 hours in a day, the same curriculum, the same responsibilities and exams to pass. The paradox is that, as my volunteering workload started to build-up, my grades were spiking, until I had a merit scholarship.
Who I am today is the sum of the “yeses” I said to all the amazing opportunities that life just threw at me. They didn’t come with success and recognition from the start; don’t get me wrong, I still had to work a lot, stress, cry, invest in people and in projects , but I did my best. So that I could learn more and be more. Half of the time I was scared to even open my mouth, in case a “yes” would just pop-out and I would wake up with even more responsibilities. I later learned that fear is a good incentive, but it’s a feeling that could paralyze me into stagnating.
It doesn’t make me smarter than other students. Nor more organized, talented or lucky. It makes me a “yes” student and a “yes” person.
My latest “yes” is the biggest gamble I ever took. I am part of a team of 80 young individuals from more than 25 different countries, in charge of organizing the 65th AIESEC International Congress in Egypt. Yes, Egypt, a place I only ever dreamt of going to, the cradle of all civilizations, in the heart of the Arab world. I was terrified of applying for this position, but I wanted to try such an experience because I knew it was going to be life-changing. 1,000 young people from 113 countries, under one roof, in a 10-day congress, discussing leadership, innovation, sustainability and global responsibility with top management representatives from companies and entrepreneurs. I said “yes” to the opportunity of a lifetime, to an event that will make Egypt my home for two months, in a family of young people, like me, from all over the world.
So say “yes” ! Go see the world, get out of the classroom and volunteer, design projects of your own, take chances! For you, not for your resume, for employability or because other people are doing it. Do it because you want to be better, you want to learn more and I promise you, proactive and passionate young people are recognized by business and communities, and if they say “yes” to the right opportunities they’ll also have the job that every student seems to desperately desire.
AIESEC is the largest student-run organization in the world. AIESEC provides students and recent graduates the platform for leadership and business skills development while facilitating a Global internship programmed in over 113 countries.