International Internships

International business is no joke. It is not child’s play, a walk in the park, or any other phrase you can think of meaning ‘easy.’ The best word I would use to describe the last couple of weeks at my internship would be challenging. Expectations are high, but the people are kind and helpful — an observation I noticed from the start and held out to be true to my current point.

Something that is reiterated to me is the importance of adding real value to the company through my final deliverable. My supervisor emphasizes this to me at every meeting with some direction on how to do so regarding the new platform they are launching. Although the ambiguous nature of my large task is looming, I know I need to push through and take personal initiative as hand-holding is not prevalent here in the Singapore business world. On the other hand, creativity, innovation, and a strong work ethic are common. In my viewpoint, working in Singapore requires a little more intensity than my experience in the United States. This is not a blanket statement but has been what I have noticed in my particular office. Competition takes place not only on the business-to-business level but is also focused on in the business-to-government side. Because the government in Singapore provides subsidies that benefit the industry I am working in through my internship, I have had to stretch my understanding and think about marketing to governments along with businesses and consumers.

In the office I intern in, people take pride in their work but also are very family oriented. Several workers have taken time off to take care of a family member or child, so while work is placed at a high value, family takes precedence. I have enjoyed hearing stories that my coworkers share about their children and family life.

This internship has pushed me in several ways and I continue to grow by the hour as I receive a new task or present an update to the COO. Truthfully, it has been harder than I expected but I am grateful for this eye-opening opportunity. My experience has given me a look into the private sector world as well as what it takes to work in international business.

Categories: Singapore

Flexibility remains the biggest nuance I have experienced while working in a business abroad. I do feel my managers have given me more flexibility as an intern compared to the full-time staff as sympathy for working unpaid and because my time here doubles as a tourist. However, everyone on our staff is treated with a high degree of understanding and flexibility. They are trusted by management to do their job without constant supervision. Accommodations for illness, injury, etc. are consistently taken into consideration by the managers when making work schedules, and they don’t leave the responsibility of covering shifts on the shoulders of the employees. Additionally, daily operations, shifts, inventory, etc., get done one way or another, but they do not follow from what I’ve seen, strict processes. The jobs that I’ve had in the United States and most businesses that I know of do not operate that way. Management will establish clear expectations and impose consequences if those expectations are not met. When making schedules, it has been my responsibility to make sure my shift is covered even if I am sick. The daily operations of jobs back home follow stricter guidelines and consistently have some kind of quality check or evaluation of performance. The comparison I think comes down to different lifestyles and feelings about time. Here, lifestyles follow a free-flowing nature and hold personal time at a high priority. Back home, a lot of priority goes to the success of businesses and the dedication of employees. Job time and personal time is much more compartmentalized. I see that as, getting work at your job done first, then once you’re off you can worry about your personal life. Without this international experience, I don’t think I would have known that not all businesses operate with that rigidity.

Categories: Ireland

In Spain, professionals place a high value on work-life balance. Working days usually do not start until 10 A.M. and long lunch breaks are common. It is also not rare for offices to close early on Fridays. The environment is overall less high-paced than in the U.S, and punctuality is not as strictly enforced. People generally do not feel as rushed to advance in their careers, either. They prefer to learn with time, and make connections. They work to live, not live to work. I respect this aspect of their culture greatly, and I do consider that people get a better quality of life as a result of it.

In Madrid reside people that come from all across the world. Many of my co-workers at the office had an international background (France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Peru, Dominican Republic), and I believe this added a lot of value to my experience. I always felt welcomed and comfortable. Furthermore, my supervisor put importance on my growth, and apart from my duties, he would assign me tasks that would help me gain further knowledge. He truly wanted me to understand the market and the position.

This experience is one that I will treasure forever. I learned a lot, met amazing people, and created beautiful memories.

I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Categories: Spain

While not much has changed over the past couple of weeks since my initial post, there is one point that I would like to go back to emphasize. That is that in my workplace, there is absolutely no talking or discussion. At the beginning of my internship, I thought that there was a little bit of discussion, but as time continued, I quickly realized that speaking should be kept to a minimum. I quickly learned that this type of environment may not be 100% for me, but for the time being, I have enjoyed it.

While there are many differences in culture, I would say that the basis of business is very similar to the United States. People are working on their jobs to the best of their ability, by whatever means necessary. People here truly do care about what they do, and they want to be the best at it. It has become apparent how competitive my company’s industry is (freight aviation), especially here in Singapore. Over the next 20 years, this industry is expected to grow by about 80% which means that companies like mine must remain vigilant and aware of industry changes. With that being said, we as a company must do everything in our power to stay on top, remain competitive, and keep the trust and loyalty of our customers. There is so much that I have learned since being here, such as work ethic and workplace inclusivity. I love how diverse every single workplace is and the harmony that comes along with it. Each person respects the other and cares for everyone’s beliefs, even if they do not believe in those specific beliefs. This is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I will be forever grateful for the experiences that I have had here because it has allowed me to become more aware of the world, other people, and the industry.

Categories: Singapore

The company I have gotten the opportunity to intern at this summer in Dublin is called Eirkoo. Eirkoo is a recruitment firm in Dublin city center that specializes in recruiting people in the accounting, finance, and wealth management areas. My first week on the job turned out to be just what I wanted. My team members are super fun and outgoing from what I’ve noticed and they seemed to be very knowledgeable about the business. They seem to have a great friendly dynamic and we even all go out together after work sometimes. My colleague Sean has sort of mentored me in the recruitment industry and taught me all the ends and outs when it comes to recruiting people. The recruitment industry here is very heavily based on LinkedIn and messaging people that are open to work. From there, if candidates show further interest you talk to them on the phone about the role. It is simple but has taught me great sales skills so far as I want them to jump on the job opportunities I’m pitching to them. It’s always fun to go into the office as my team members are always interacting with one another, calling candidates to see if they would like to hear about job opportunities, and discussing with clients what kind of people they’re looking to hire. It was exactly the type of environment I wanted to have as the sales knowledge I was already getting exposed to is priceless. The business environment in Ireland from what I can tell seems to be a lot more fun, friendly, and rewarding than the traditional corporate American workplace. The Irish are just such nice people in general and when it comes to doing business here it is no exception. It seems a lot less stressful and more easygoing compared to the States. The culture here in Dublin so far has made me excited to wake up and get in the office with all my colleagues. It’s a fun time but also productive!

Categories: Ireland

As I look back at the past two months I am overwhelmed with joy. The experience that I have gone through compares to no other. Taking part in an internship overseas is not something that just anyone can say they have done. This experience has taught me so much.

Coming into this internship I was told to expect something casual and that the way of work in Israel is very different from what I am used to in the United States. With this being said I just didn’t understand how casual work was in Israel. In America when going to work everyone is dressed very formally and put together, going to work in Israel individuals wear anything from jeans to skirts to slacks. This at first was a hard adjustment, because I feel that when you are dressed for work you are also mentally prepared for work. By the end of the internship, I was comfortable going into work with no suit on and still getting into the work mindset. The office environment was also very welcoming and friendly. My coworkers and boss made an effort to get to know me and ensured that I was enjoying my time both in the office and outside of the office. This made my time overall better since I knew that I would see individuals that cared about me every day and wanted the best for me. With this being said, at first, I was surprised at how involved the owner of the company was with my internship. He would always check on me and want to meet with me. This wasn’t something that I was expecting, since I know that in the US this isn’t usually the case. This was very meaningful to me as I felt that my boss truly wanted me to succeed and did everything in his power for this to happen.

Another thing that stuck out to me that was different between the culture in the United States and Israel was the aspect of food at work. In the United States, it is very acceptable to go out with coworkers and get lunch almost every day or order food in the office. In Israel, most individuals pack food from home and stay in the office to eat. This is something that I didn’t really get used to and was kind of hard for me to understand. I saw lunch as a time to clear your head from work for a little in the middle of the day and take a break, but that just wasn’t the case in Israel.

The final difference that I took note of was the difference in the work days. In Israel, individuals work Sunday to Thursday rather than Monday to Friday. This is done to allow for the religious community to prepare for Shabbat. It was something that was a little harder to get used to as I am used to having Sunday as a day for myself to prepare for the week ahead. Also during the weekend most things were closed since on Shabbat most of the state doesn’t work and on Friday they need to close early to make sure to get home before Shabbat starts.

With these noted differences in the business culture, I am more than grateful for the opportunity that I had to come to do an internship abroad. This experience helped me grow a lot as an individual both professionally and personally. I am going to remember this experience for years to come and am excited for what is in store for the future.

Categories: Israel

There are some nuances that make the way Spaniards conduct business differently from the United States. First, people here conduct business in a much more friendly and personal manner than in the US. There is a lot more casual talk about daily life and actual interest in your well-being. Also, it is common to conduct business outside of the office in a restaurant or bar. I have also noticed that in Spain, people care a lot more about the background or story of a brand or product more than in the United States. This affects the way I would normally communicate with stores, contacts, and influencers.

Overall, this internship has helped me figure out that I would like to focus on marketing in the fashion sector. This will allow me to use my creativity and passion for art and fashion in a daily manner, which I have loved this summer. I am very happy to continue working for my company remotely this fall and continue to explore the fashion sector even more. I have also fallen in love with Spain and have loved the opportunity to improve my Spanish to an almost fluent level. I hope to have a position in the future where I can use my Spanish or potentially live in a Spanish-speaking country.

Categories: Spain

It is hard to compare the nuances of US work culture with the culture abroad because I have had such limited exposure to both. Therefore, I will draw from the experiences of my peers, as well as my own.

When I hear from some of my fellow interns, in all honesty, I can say I got very lucky with my work assignment. I work in the tech industry, in a diverse and globally centered company. We leave when the clock strikes 5, we get breaks when we feel we need to, there doesn’t seem to be any crazy deadlines or pressure to work yourself to exhaustion, and if I needed to question why we were doing something I would without worry. It’s a relaxed environment, and I am not entirely sure how it stacks up to US offices.

However, I do have fellow interns that have quite different working conditions. They seem to face the more negative side of Korean work culture. I think it depends a bit on the industry, and of course the company itself, but there are expectations to stay late even if it is well past any reasonable time. There can be no objections or questions to higher ranking employees, and tons of work or literally no work at all. It seems that when there are Korean interns alongside American interns, the Korean interns are subjected to a lot more of these negative aspects. In comparison to my friends interning back in the States, I would say that a version of both of these experiences is represented. I don’t think that America is exempt from or has totally escaped a rat race mindset but there are a lot of flexible work environments/schedules these days.

It needs to be said that my very brief time in Korea is a microcosm of very limited aspects of Korea and Korean culture. There are still a million things left for me to learn, and this experience has really solidified my intention to work abroad in the future. It is quite a fulfilling moment to have everything you have been hoping and working for affirmed like this. For years and years, my heart was set on living and working abroad- even before I knew what I wanted that work to be. This has illuminated that in terms of my occupation, I have an incredible amount to learn. My mom told me that the first part of college is really about personal maturation and that now I am at the juncture where I get to really learn ‘my craft’. I am positive that this next year is going to be a whirlwind, but my goal is to really practice digital marketing.

Categories: South Korea

Howdy! My name is John Padilla, and I am currently interning for a cargo aviation company in Singapore. The company that I work for owns a couple of different airlines and organizes large cargo shipments for all types of customers. From pharmaceuticals to oil and gas, to agriculture, this company does it all. This company has been recognized with many awards over the past few years and is considered one of the best cargo transporters in Asia. I am currently interning at our Singapore offices, but in all, we have multiple offices in Indonesia and Malaysia.

After a 30-minute bus ride from my host family’s flat, I arrived at an office building that is home to many other cargo companies. My initial impression of the workplace here is that each person is dedicated and very knowledgeable about their work. While talking is limited, occasionally, there is space for collaboration and discussion. I learned early on that it is normal for people to stay behind after hours to complete their work, even after a long normal day of work.

Currently, I am working on a task that requires me to get to know how the company works together with its many different departments. This has allowed me to get to know each department in-depth, and fully see the company in action. It is still early, but I am very excited to see what the future has in store for me here at this company over the next few weeks.

Categories: Singapore

Contrary to my bustling one-hour and fifteen-minute commute on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, or subway system in Singapore) from my host family’s home to my office building, the culture at work is calm and professional. On the first day, I was greeted and introduced to my friendly coworkers. While everyone seemed immersed in their work as I toured around the office, all my coworkers and bosses smiled and welcomed me to Singapore.

The first three days, different coworkers offered to take me to lunch and graciously treated me to their favorite lunch spot. During this time, the discussion was light and fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about my boss/coworkers. Other than lunch breaks and short office encounters, talking is minimal. Because of the limited space in Singapore, everyone except the CEO/COO level of position, works in a cubicle, open-air desk. Although people work very close together, I have noticed that it is uncommon to strike up personal conversations lasting longer than a minute or two which differs from my workplace in the United States. The company itself is full of bright and hardworking employees, willing to work hard for the good of the organization. Many employees work on more than one project and coordinate with a team outsourced from Manila in the Philippines. This revealed to me the competitiveness of achieving a good office job in Singapore. One must be multi-talented, highly educated, and an impressive communicator to perform well in this workplace. On the first day, I had a meeting in the conference room with my bosses and they explained to me the project I would be working on for the next several weeks. Wrapping my head around the scale of the project was a multiple-day process, not to mention slightly intimidating! In this company, one must be a self-starter to be successful. Because of the busyness and long list of tasks to accomplish in a given day, consistent focus is needed. I caught on to this fast, and have understood that this was expected of me.

Another aspect of work-life common in Singapore is facial recognition for entering and exiting the office. This process is easy and efficient, as it acts as a way to clock in and out along with its security benefits. Additionally, one of the dominant religions in the office is Islam. There is a dedicated prayer room and different microwaves/fridges for Halal versus Non-Halal food. Employees in my workplace are harmonious and accepting of each other, no matter one’s ethnicity, religion, or background which I appreciate and admire. I am just getting started and am excited to learn more about the different aspects of business and work hard to better myself and the company.

Categories: Singapore