Connect Youth: Purpose Driven Networking

Hi all, my name is Merel and I am part of the fulltime board of AIESEC in Amsterdam. Furthermore, I am part of a support team that helps with getting in touch with companies and organising events on a national level. For these type of events, we try to connect the students in AIESEC to companies in the Netherlands.

Covid-19 triggered us to be more creative in finding ways to finding new ways to create value for our members and to make use of the possibilities that the online world has to offer. Hence, we wanted to create an inspiring online network event for our members. An opportunity for them to connect to the national network and to get  to know different types of organisations in a valuable way. To deliver on this promise, we wanted this event to be more than just a networking opportunity, we wanted to really connect it to AIESEC. This is how we came up with Connect Youth, an event where our members get to connect with different types of organisations through workshops that focus on the purpose and the place of this organisation in society.

The first day, we were lucky to welcome Unilever to the event. A couple of their trainees that are working with the Ben & Jerry’s brand, provided us with a case: how to make sure an impactful brand is perceived as they want to and stays credible. All participants, from AIESEC in the Netherlands and AIESEC in Belgium, worked in groups of 4-6 people and came up with great concrete action steps and examples as well as general rules for credibility. One of the most frequently mentioned examples is the importance of transparency, of both the positive aspects and the points of improvement. Another broadly discussed topic was the difference between information that is used for greenwashing as compared to a credible impact calculations and data. It was great to investigate these topics together and to raise awareness on this topic. A lot of great ideas came out of this session and hopefully have inspired both our members and the trainees in Unilever.

The next day, we had a different type of agenda. For this day, we invited Jan-Willem from Effective Altruism. Effective Altruism is an NGO that helps people have a positive impact in their lives. Jan-Willem took us through some basic ways to have influence and how effective they can be. Furthermore, he provided us with some tips and tricks to consider how we could shape our career. Since most of our members are purpose driven and care deeply about this issue, this topic was a perfect match. Next to that, we got to discuss the topics in small groups and ask our questions. I believe that, next to it being really interesting, it truly helped some of our members to discover their options on building an impactful career.

To close of the event, we had two of the owners of Holie Foods with us. Holie is a company that makes healthy granola and hummus and has a business model in which they plant trees with half of their profits. The two owners told us about the why of their company in a very enthusiastic and inspiring way. After that, it was time for us to get to work: we got a case which we could work shortly and could after pitch our suggestions to Holie on how to become even more sustainable. The levels of energy during this session were remarkable, everyone really enjoyed it, and one team even got to “go home” with a price: some delicious food items from Holie.

We really enjoyed having this event. It was something that was really different to other events we have, while at the same time it was strongly connected to AIESEC’s purpose. I hope we get to see our partners again in future, maybe at some point even at physical events again.

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