Originally from County Monaghan, Kerrie Drum is a Master’s student studying Biomedical Engineering in University College Dublin. Kerrie went on an IAESTE traineeship in 2016, and loved the experience so much that she is now working with the Dublin Local Committee to develop IAESTE in Ireland.
My first experience of IAESTE was going on a traineeship for seven weeks to Tunisia in the summer of 2016. I lived with over 40 people from 30 different countries and had the best time ever! The biggest thing I learned was how valuable different kinds of people are, and that showing respect towards people from different backgrounds and culture can make the world a more harmonious and exciting place. I was living in an Arabic country, with a culture and religion that I was not familiar with, but learning about it made me appreciate the importance of allowing people to be themselves and not judging them based on their opinions and beliefs. Myself and the other IAESTE trainees came from over 30 countries worldwide, yet we had the same interests and could laugh about the same thing. There was no such thing as a border or block between us. I loved IAESTE so much that I wanted to get more involved. I am now the president of the Dublin Local Committee (LC), and in early February I went to the IAESTE Boosttraining weekend in Tampere, Finland.
Participants arriving with one of the well-travelled IAESTE Teddy Bears
Nurturing the ‘IAESTE Spirit’
The aim of IAESTE Boost is to motivate, teach and cultivate that ‘IAESTE spirit’ that I found in Tunisia. Boost was organised by members of IAESTE Finland and IAESTE Sweden, with workshop leaders from Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and Tunisia. Participants old and new also came from Australia, Denmark, France, Malta and Tunisia. The workshops were in Tampere University of Technology and there was a busy schedule, but we did find some time for ice swimming, a Finnish sauna, and an international evening!
The workshops focused on Public Relations, marketing, branding, LC management, member motivation, effective communication, team building, pitching, and job-raising. I learned how to market IAESTE and promote it to students, universities and to employers. We learned a great deal about branding and creating slogans to capture people’s attention. I learned how to recruit members, from LC level to potential trainees, by motivating and inspiring them through targeted advertisement.
We were taught how to be influential leaders and how to manage and structure a Local Committee. We looked at communication tools used by other countries for LC communication and planning. I learned team building skills and strategy creation.
IAESTE exists to provide traineeships for students, so there was great emphasis on job-raising as well. I learned how to source jobs, present in front of employers and academics, how to pitch, and how to follow up with employers on jobs they may have agreed to.
Three LCs were relatively new: our own in Dublin, the hosts LC Tampere, and LC Grenoble-Alps in France. The workshops were re-designed to target these LCs and to help the representatives from each country prepare for and structure their own committee. IAESTE Netherlands are also struggling to recruit members, so the workshops were beneficial for them too.
A Big ‘Boost’ to my Motivation
Meeting students from similar academic backgrounds from all over the world and sharing knowledge with them has given me the motivation to continue the success of IAESTE back in Ireland. I have seen from personal experience what IAESTE has done for me and for other people. The people you meet, the friends you create, the contacts you make, will all have a positive effect on my life and will provide many opportunities for me; whether it be travel, employment, or socially. I want to give this opportunity to as many other students as I can.
Having the chance to sit in and participate in these workshops has given me a clearer picture of how IAESTE is structured, what it was created to provide, and how we can achieve great things in Ireland.
My IAESTE Plans since the Conference
I want to recruit as many dedicated LC members as we can, by reaching out to IAESTE alumni and spreading the good word of IAESTE to our friends and peers in universities. Our first LC meeting of 2018 was successful, as we established roles and responsibilities which will help with the structure of our committee.
To work more effectively as a team, I have suggested to each LC member to plan and organise a team-building activity, which will also include the trainees who are currently here in Ireland. This will help us get to know each other and create positive vibes for the rest of the year!
Two or three of us from LC Dublin will be traveling to the IAESTE Connect Conference in Belgium in mid-March, where there will be a series of workshops given by experienced members of IAESTE. This will be a good opportunity to meet other LCs and to learn from them. It may sprout other opportunities for us, just like the Boost Weekend did for me.
We want you!
If you would like to get involved with our LC, contact us through our Facebook page. If you’d like to apply for an IAESTE traineeship in 2018, read our How To guide and then fill out the application form. The closing date is 12 March 2018; please contact IAESTE Ireland National Secretary Niamh Pollins with any queries!