By Heather Blahnik (Madion ’96, US ’98, AI ’99)
Pictured above: Trainees from First Data (from left to right): Alvaro Barbado (Spain), Jessie Zang (China/Australia) and David Huml (Czech).
Having taken two traineeships, Larry Drury knows firsthand the value of an AIESEC traineeship. He took a summer traineeship in Norway in 1986 while still doing his undergraduate degree. He then took a 6 month traineeship in South Africa after he served on the national team for AIESEC in the US in 1988. He loved his experience in South Africa so much that he took a permanent job with another company in Cape Town and stayed there until 1994 when he returned to the US. Needless to say that AIESEC had a big impact on him!
Since finishing his AIESEC traineeship in South Africa, Larry has wanted to give back to the organization that gave him so much, and he recently found the opportunity to do so at First Data where he serves as Chief Marketing Officer. Larry says of AIESEC,
“It’s a really low risk way to give back and get some meaningful work done. The barriers for placing a trainee in a company as an executive are much lower than I expected based on selling it as a student. I was thinking of starting with one trainee, but when I presented AIESEC to my marketing team, I had six people raising their hands, so we are now taking 6 trainees.”
First Data took their first trainee in October and there are now trainees throughout the marketing organization in event planning, market research, social media, marketing operations, digital marketing, and telesales. The trainees come from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain, Tunisia, and China. All the traineeships are for one year and the trainees are working on day-to-day marketing projects.
As the trainees are based in Denver and Atlanta, Larry is working with two local committees, AIESEC Boulder and AIESEC Georgia Tech. He says that:
“First Data has 25,000 employees so we participate in a number of internship programs. With AIESEC and Human Resources, we were able to get into a good rhythm pretty quickly with the whole process – what we wanted from AIESEC and what AIESEC could provide us. HR sees it as an official way to screen candidates and get good talent with an international perspective. They have been very supportive. Also, feedback from the trainees is good with regard to their reception. Having more than one trainee makes it easier for the local committee to set up things and the trainees are having a great time.”
Jessie Zhang was a member of AIESEC in Australia before coming to work for First Data in Denver in Market Intelligence. She say the following of her experience:
“My experience with First Data so far has been fabulous and beyond the expectations. Being Chinese and coming all the way from Australia, it could have been really challenging to quickly adapt to the local culture and work environment. However, the tremendous support, consideration and assistance received from co-workers, managers, other interns and AIESECers in Colorado have made life and work so much easier. What impressed me the most at First Data is the organizational culture being inclusive, supportive, innovative and respectful. I am given clear directions, great learning and growing opportunities, various tasks, ownership, constructive feedback as well as huge support from teammates and managers at different levels. My experience working in AIESEC has taught me the capabilities of a leader to inspire ordinary people to excel extraordinary things and the impact an individual is able to make as a change agent. In that sense, First Data is not just a leader in the technology and payment processing industry but also the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to empower youth, develop future leaders and make a positive impact.”
Larry plans to begin canvassing for the next round of trainees in the summer and also to expand the program beyond marketing.
“Most of the trainees have at least a master’s degree and they provide my team with another point of view. I truly believe in the experiences that AIESEC provides and I am happy that I can give these kind of experiences to the international students we have working here at First Data as well as benefit my teams and the company.”
If you think that your company or organization could benefit from an AIESEC trainee, fill out the referral form and someone from the AIESEC US team will be in contact with you shortly. On this page you will also find details of how other alumni have successfully taken trainees.