Leveraging digital for high quality internships

Written by Sisekelo Sinyolo, director of Marketing at AIESEC in Belgium

Sisekelo Sinyolo is the current director of Marketing at AIESEC in Belgium

Sisekelo Sinyolo is the current director of Marketing at AIESEC in Belgium

The digital age has brought us an overload of information. A quick search for quality internships on any search engine presents a list of academic articles which detail what defines quality internships. Searching for the use of digital technologies in improving the delivery of quality internships provides little tangible information.

In this maze of the world-wide web there is a hidden gem. It is an international youth-driven organization which provides a platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential. Continually striving to improve the experience of young people across the globe, AIESEC has sought to adapt to changing landscapes since 1948.

The organization started as a movement “to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding the understanding of the individuals, changing the world one person at a time.” A decade later the organization was providing well over 1000 internship opportunities. Our journey with digital started truly launching toward the end of the 60s. We were already delivering 4000 exchanges annually. Manual matching of students to opportunities became cumbersome. Consequently, we had an overhaul of our systems and began leveraging on digital to improve experience delivery.

Fast-forward to modern-day AIESEC: we deliver over 25000 internships annually. These opportunities are driven by a network of 70 000 members. Having such a low productivity rate and high volume of experiences delivery led to a period of introspection. We needed to change the way that we work to allow us to deliver more and better experiences. This time can be described as the digital revolution of AIESEC.

We identified several needs from society: lack of credible sources of high quality internships, internal challenges in delivering the experiences efficiently and effectively, inaccessibility of our platform for externals both in the business world and in the student market, and finally, difficulty in connecting enterprises to students.

We are now reaching the end of our digital revolution. And the results are astounding.

At first, we considered the journey that a customer goes through before subscribing to AIESEC internships until the point they finish their experience. We defined this as our customer flow. We understand that the opportunities that we provide are of high value. How can we ensure that more students and recent graduates have access to them?

We started by having an overhaul of our online engagement platforms. This spans from social media channels such as Facebook and twitter through to our global, national and local websites. We aligned the brand and made it uniform throughout the 124 country network. We are still in the process of aligning our global websites. This greatly improved our conversion rates.

Considering that we have a steadily increasing flow of traffic, we needed to be more transparent about the opportunities that we offer. While we previously restricted access to our database to students that came to our information sessions, we now opened it to the world. If our aim is to engage and develop every young person in the world they should be able to access our programs wherever they are.

We then connected this platform to our internal system where we are able to follow up on each student based on their profiles and match them to companies that provide internships. In this way we ensure that an experience is delivered to most students who show interest. At the same time we improve the follow-up from our side to ensure the quality.

Since the changes launched, we have not looked back. From the AIESEC in Belgium perspective, our reach has doubled in the past 2 months with minimal effort. Our potential to reach students even in remote corners of the country where AIESEC is not present have grown exponentially.

The opportunities that we continue to provide are testament enough to the beauty of digital. We believe that the journey is just starting. And we are ready for a new wave of companies and students that are willing to take advantage of our platform.

About the author

Sisekelo Sinyolo is the current director of Marketing at AIESEC in Belgium, a branch of the global AIESEC organization. He was born in Zimbabwe and studied Business Administration at the KULeuven Campus Brussels. He is an aspiring youth-leader and opinion maker passionate about communications and soft skills trainings for young people at university level. He is elected president of AIESEC in Belgium for the year 2015 – 2016.

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