Knowledge is the acquaintance with a certain subject that is acquired through experience or study. To know is not only to be aware or familiar with a particular topic, but to have a thorough understanding of it. Knowledge includes things that we perceive, determine or learn. Education, on the other hand, is one part of knowledge; that is, it deals with the knowledge that is taught or studied and not gained by experience. This knowledge is the expertise developed by a learning process which includes a set of instructions. When a person becomes enlightened through a teaching process, it encompasses under education (Jeffs and Smith; N.D).
There is no doubt that people become knowledgeable through these learning processes, but the knowledge gained through personal experience or by activities outside of their school curriculum tends to make a bigger impact on one’s life. Formal education is the systematic set of coaching, tutoring and training by professional teachers regarding a certain subject that is included in a student’s curriculum. However, formal education is just one way of acquiring knowledge; another way is to get involved into activities outside of one’s curriculum (Fordham, 1993). That is exactly the reason why schools have extra curricular activities as a part of their schooling system. These activities include debating, elocution, poetry, arts, creative writing, reading, sports, karate, dramatics and even singing at a primary level; at the secondary level a few more activities are added such as event organization, societies, and movie making. Usually, it is preferred that initially all students willing to take part try out all these various activities and then after experiencing them choose one that interests them to most and brings out their potential. Extra curricular activities might seem to be a minor part of our lives, but they help us in discovering ourselves – mostly our talents and what we can succeed in. Unless we have a first hand experience of a particular activity, we cannot have the right feel of it; this experience, which can be good or bad, is the judge of whether we should indulge in the activity in the future.
Formal education just informs us about some topic; it teaches us about all its aspects in-depth. For example, if we are being taught about how to give a remarkable presentation in the ‘Speech Communication’ course, our instructor will tell us all the opening strategies; the facts that we need to keep our voice steady, present in a firm posture, maintain eye contact; use attractive visual aids; and even tell us the influential closing strategies. However, it is completely useless if we do not practically apply all these methods; theory is not always useful. Once the students start presenting in front of an audience, then only will they realize their strengths and weaknesses based on their own experience and the teacher’s feedback.
Every student can rote-learn the text in the books and get an A in a course. It is crucial for a student to practically apply all that has been learned as theory to check the understanding of the topic. Plus, it has been scientifically proven that a person tends to remember things that he has virtually attempted and done compared to matters conveyed to him verbally or in text. For example, it is natural for a cook to remember a recipe much better once he has tried to cook the food compared to just reading it from a magazine. Moreover, once you try out various activities, you can evaluate whether you have a potential talent to do so or not, whether you need to work harder for better results or not, or simply whether you have a personal interest in it or not. All these factors cannot be simply assumed; only application reveals such affairs (Rubenson, 1982).
As an ambitious business student, I wanted to not only study Accounting, Economics, Management and Finance in theory, but I wanted some practical experience. I wanted corporate exposure, for which I applied for a number of internships in big companies. However, it was still was not enough because interns are not given enough importance in the professional business world. Therefore, I joined AIESEC – Association of International Students in Economics, Commerce and Social Sciences. AIESEC is the largest international student organization which is basically a non-for-profit organization. It is based in around 104 countries, 1100 universities and a pool of 28000 students. This organization helped me gained corporate exposure through its portfolio of ‘Exchange’. The ‘Global Exchange Program’ facilitates students from our country to go abroad and work for foreign firms and students from abroad to arrive into our country and work for our local firms. This program promotes cultural diversity and improves the local business field since foreign expertise is being implemented.
For this exchange to take place, local students need to hold meetings with local companies and sell to them the Global Exchange Program; that is, they need to put forward the proposal of letting a foreign trainee work in their organization for a certain time period. When I joined AIESEC, the Exchange portfolio attracted me at once because it would allow me to go for professional meetings with big corporations and sell as well as market my product to them. Considering the fact that I want to become a Sales/Marketing Manager in the future, it was the perfect opportunity for me to step into the corporate world.
Big companies such as Microsoft, Electrolux, DHL, Pricewatercooper House, HP, Shell, Standard Chartered, Royal Bank of Scotland and Dell are partnering with AIESEC. Therefore, I have the opportunity of going on meetings with the Human Resources Managers of these multinational firms. When I made calls to these companies for appointments for meetings, I realized the etiquettes of talking to companies and how difficult it is to set up only a half an hour long meeting someone – it gave me the knowledge of the importance of time in the life of a business personnel. In various courses, I have been taught the mannerisms of conducting a meeting professionally, but it was after I actually went on a professional meeting that these mannerisms were engraved into my head. I made certain errors, which I learned from and did not repeat in the future meetings – this extra curricular voluntary involvement of mine refined me as a business professional. Some meetings were a failure, which helped me prepare more vigorously for the next meetings. Once the deal has been finalized and the contract had been signed, it became my responsibility to ensure that all the clauses of the contract were followed. We have studied the legal consequences of not abiding by a contract in our law courses; but have after practically experiencing the penalties imposed onto me for not delivering what was promised, I learnt the significance of those legal laws for an organization. This activity facilitated me in making strong contacts in different companies; I had an identity in front of people in the professional world – the best advantage of this is that when I apply for jobs after graduation in these companies, I will have a bonus point compared to the other applicants.
Through AIESEC, I became part of the professional world and learned more than I could ever as just another student. My teachers ‘taught’ me what I needed to know for the future in theory, but after I practically applied it through the opportunities available to me in AIESEC, I ‘learned’ it. Therefore, I believe that knowledge through external stimuli, apart from formal education, is extremely important for everyone to become successful in life.