The Global Work Attachment Programme (GWAP) organised by the Career and Leadership Centre offers 8 to 12 weeks of attachment to students every year. As globalisation has been growing rapidly, students may prefer overseas internship experiences to broaden their international outlook. Students who immersed themselves in real-life business environments in cities such as Berlin and Sydney have been well-equipped with new knowledge, skills and attitudes for the pursuit of future career.
Throughout the internship in Berlin, I was responsible for a myriad of duties related to human resources. Human resources don’t just limited to recruitment and administration. Since my host company was a new start-up, they had yet grasped their own essence. As such, I was assigned to conduct research on company culture. I provided insight into how culture functions within an office and enables employees to have greater satisfaction and autonomy.
Since our office consisted of employees from all over the world, it was interesting to get to know each of their unique culture and lives. At the very beginning, I realised that it was important to adjust myself, so I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and offend anyone. This caution distanced myself from my colleagues, but as I talked more and became much more proactive in sharing ideas with others, I started to feel closer to them.
My host company, as a start-up, preferred an open office rather than working in cubicles. Teams were spread out amongst the office and employees weren’t limited to sit with their own team. This allowed me to interact with different colleagues and learn various skills from them.
We didn’t usually have a lot of things happening in the office, yet the company had a lot of activities outside of work. It organised a big gathering in a rooftop bar as one of the interns was leaving. It was a very fun and memorable experience - we tried a variety of beer as well as getting a chance to talk more deeply with the managers. All of us felt like a part of a big family.
After spending 3 months in Berlin, I feel like I have become more open-minded and have brought back the passionate way of communicating with everyone else. I find myself much more active in starting conversations rather than passively answering questions. Working in Berlin has prepared me with a flexible, adaptable and open-minded work style, while opening my eyes to Europe for a prospective career path as Europe has always been a destination for leisure travel but not practical work.
As a business, sales and marketing intern in Sydney, I was responsible for developing findings and recommendation reports for clients, so I was sent on numerous field trips to visit them as a visitor. I was also required to develop B2B sales strategies and do related research occasionally. I, as a business student, had a chance to apply my knowledge in practice.
During the internship, I went on field trips to places including Sydney Opera House, Queen Victoria Building, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian National Maritime Museum and Powerhouse Museum. I had never thought that I would visit so many museums and art galleries in Sydney before. These visiting experiences were different from typical sightseeing because I needed to analyse and benchmark the experiences and present recommendations afterwards. They allowed me to observe more and have a deeper understanding of these institutions - to think more about not only how they work, but how they can improve. These were definitely valuable experiences.
Apart from providing guidance at office, my supervisor also took me to the Future Asia Business Summit. The participants were businessmen from numerous industries, and I got to learn massive knowledge and have a glance of how they network and mingle in events. It was a meaningful and insightful event. Our boss also took us to a bar to meet his friends, and we talked a lot about my internship journey. These interactive occasions offered me opportunities to network with various people, whether businessmen, colleagues or even strangers.
The positive atmosphere of my host company in Sydney was incredibly influential, as it rippled between every one of us, brought about a marvellous journey and eventually to a perfect finale. Every task brought me something new, every lesson and insight given by the boss and partners led to growth in me, and that humbled and motivated me to exceed who I was, to illustrate a clearer picture of who I am to be. I thank so much for all the care and support from them along the journey. These are the treasures I will never forget and I’m sure they will influence me in the following phases of life.