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International student associations presented: AIESEC and ESN – the inside scoop

International associations may seem scary and distant, particularly to local students. Yet very few truly understand the scope of activities of the associations and what they can offer students of all nationalities, local and foreign alike. The two internationally networked student associations functioning within the University of Tampere are AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Science Economique et Commerciale) and ESN (Erasmus Student Network). What lies behind these scary acronyms?

ESN may appear to be just a local party organiser, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. In the late 1980’s, EEC started ESN to support the Erasmus exchange programme, but it quickly expanded to support international exchange from all over the world. ESN is organised on three levels (local, national and international), giving students a chance to get involved in all of them. Interestingly enough, most of the active members in ESN are usually local students who want to be a part of a fast growing international network.

The range of ESN’s activities is as diverse as the people that it is composed of, but the basic function of the ESN sections is social. The aim is to improve the integration of students by organising cultural and social events, negotiating deals and offering a platform for active student participation.

However, ESN also collects information from students that, once analysed, can be used to make exchanges simpler and more gratifying.

AIESEC’s image is partly quite the opposite of that of ESN. People who do not really know AIESEC but know a bit would probably describe the organisation as an almost overly professional-like group of serious people working way too much all the time. This comes from the organisation’s core activities which are in fact more professional than social.

AIESEC was founded mainly to provide students of specific fields opportunities to work abroad in those fields. Both the scope of activities and the amount of students from different fields have since grown significantly. AIESEC is the world’s largest student-run organisation. In addition to providing over 10,000 internships around the world yearly, it also offers all kinds of leadership positions and self-development opportunities within the organisation (on three levels like ESN) and its different projects.

The huge number of members in AIESEC these days has also forced it to develop lots of supporting and simply additional activities. Good parties are certainly not a rarity.

Despite two different fields of activity, both AIESEC and ESN share a common goal: to allow students to make the best of going international. Why not get involved and help us?

Gabriel Herrera
President - ESN FINT,

Petteri Hiltunen
Vice President - AIESEC Tampere

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