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Intern Abroad, Get Paid


USF senior Rebecca Levy is greeted by local AIESEC students when she arrives in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

If international work and running a global organization are experiences you’ve craved, AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) San Francisco, led by University of San Francisco business students, might be in your future.

AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization, is comprised of 50,000 members in 107 countries who work to cultivate student leaders and promote international exchange and internships, many of them paid, for foreign students.

Local members work to place foreign students with area organizations and companies. Interns’ food and housing is provided by the host organization and they often receive a paycheck. Local AIESECers, as members refer to themselves, meet foreign student interns at the airport and act as a support network of friends showing off the host country’s culture and sites and often inviting the newcomers into their homes during their stay, said Nicolas Meyers, vice-president for communications for AIESEC SF until his term expired in January.

Most recently, 18 USF students taught English or worked as summer camp counselors in China, Puerto Rico, Turkey, and Tunisia.

Senior Rebecca Levy, an advanced global entrepreneurship and management student, spent six weeks teaching English to children ages 5-15 at a summer camp outside Ukraine’s largest city, Kharkiv. “Everything from their food to their culture to their transportation systems were new to me,” Levy said. “I learned so much about the Ukrainian culture and loved my time there.”

Knowing next to nothing about Ukraine before she traveled there, Levy said she was surprised by how interesting, unique, and impoverished the country is.

Levy’s experience is increasingly echoed by others as AIESEC SF has flourished under the leadership of USF senior international business student Katrina Oropel. Since taking over as president her junior year, Oropel and her leadership team have grown AIESEC SF from five to 44 members to lead all other local AIESEC committees in the U.S. for relative growth, earning her the best leadership award from AIESEC U.S. for 2009-10.

Taking on the presidency has allowed her to put to work many of the textbook lessons that she has learned at USF on recruiting, establishing a board of advisers, and interviewing and pitching companies on hosting foreign students. “That’s invaluable real-world experience, figuring out what works and what doesn’t,” Oropel said.

This summer AIESEC SF, for the first time since it was founded in 1998, will host foreign students from around the world. In a recently struck deal, five students from different countries will intern at Sony Ericsson in San Francisco.

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu