Mon, Apr 6th, 2015
Charis Hughes from the Communications Unit reports on the IAESTE ‘Join us to Motivate People’ (JUMP) Seminar in Ennis, Co. Clare in September 2014
You know you’re at an IAESTE event when you’re lined up in a school games field after a workshop session, preparing to do a formation dance with people from 17 different countries. Even more so when the dance moves are being taught by a Japanese man now living in Switzerland, the music is a traditional Irish fiddle tune performed by a Swede, and one of the local organisers is hitting a pot with a plastic sword to supply the beat. Doing the ‘IAESTE dance’ together is a tradition of IAESTE events and in many ways encapsulates the flavour of the programme – international, flexible, enthusiastic, and truly unique.
IAESTE is a worldwide student and recent graduate exchange programme which each year sends thousands of students on paid traineeships in technical fields such as Engineering, Science and IT. An IAESTE traineeship is a great opportunity to live and work in another country and to meet people from different backgrounds, while getting relevant, real-world work experience. What really makes the experience special though is the ‘IAESTE spirit’, which is supplied by the hundreds of volunteers—students and otherwise—who help run the programme in the 84 countries which make up the network.
Every IAESTE country has a ‘National Committee’ which coordinates the programme centrally, but many also have volunteer-run ‘Local Committees’ (LCs) which coordinate activities at local level. In Ireland the Dublin Local Committee helps meet IAESTE trainees when they first arrive, gets them settled in, organises weekend trips around the country and other social meet-ups, and supports Irish students as they leave for their traineeships overseas. All eight members are students in different Irish universities, and most have completed an IAESTE traineeship themselves. Roanne Hynes, Vice President of the LC, remarked that upon returning from their traineeships the members “felt they would like to contribute to the IAESTE experience in their own country”.
In September 2014 the IAESTE experience in Ireland got a huge boost with the holding of JUMP (Join Us to Motivate People), an entirely student-centred event which has been held every year since 1995. JUMP brings together people who have recently become involved with IAESTE and people who want to increase their level of involvement, and is held in a different country each year. JUMP 2014 brought together 120 people from 17 different countries for five days in the Rowan Tree Hostel, Ennis, Co. Clare, and was largely organised and run by the Dublin LC … with a little help from their friends (for example, all the catering was done by committee member Emily Campion with the help of her mum, friends, and a cousin who happened to be a professional chef – who even took annual leave to help out!).
The participants (known as JUMPers, of course) learnt about all the aspects of Local Committee work, and specifically how to encourage employers in their own countries to offer traineeships. IAESTE operates on a ‘one trainee in, one trainee out’ basis, so that every traineeship an employer can offer guarantees a student in that country a traineeship overseas. Liaising and building ties with local employers is therefore a bedrock of the programme. Luckily JUMP has a pool of vastly experienced trainers, who’ve worked with LCs around Europe for many years, to show new JUMPers the ropes. They covered how to find the right person to talk to, good phone and e-mail manner, and how to follow up after the initial contact–all useful skills for life, not just for IAESTE!
As well as the training sessions, the JUMPers heard motivational speeches from the Lord Mayor of Ennis–himself an engineer–and local business people. They also had a chance to explore the spectacular Clare coast line in fabulous sunshine, leading a few of them to enquire about coming to live in the area! Perhaps most welcome of all for some JUMPers, the seminar is a chance to network with other internationally minded, enthusiastic people. Camille, an Irish student recently returned from a very successful traineeship in Brazil, told me, “People here ask me about my traineeship and it’s like, great! I get to talk about it again! Friends at home are sick of listening to me but everybody here understands.”