Summer in Singapore

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Stephanie H. Tran Rojas, NUR ’20

This summer I used the Career Services summer funding to work abroad in Singapore as Editorial Associate Intern with the Lien Centre for Social Innovation under the Lien Foundation. I worked out of Singapore Management University in the Central Business District and lived in the Little India districts of Singapore. I lived as a local during my time without holding back my desire for adventure. I can thank the generous funding from my donors for opening more educational and mind-opening opportunities without the constraints of financial barriers.

When not working, I constantly pushed myself by trying new foods and experiences. I have done a wide range of activities while in Singapore, including going for a weekend trip in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. When I went on my own mini-excursion to Johor Bahru, I truly put my sense of independence to the test. The first and most terrifying thing I did on that weekend getaway to Johor Bahru, Malaysia was go off-roading for the first time. I went with Tristan Park, an off-roading company that offers guided off-roading for riders on various trails in the farming outskirts of the city. Being someone who has not even really done sports, let alone extreme sports, the concept of going off-roading has always been interesting and exciting but unrealistic. However, with no obstacles realistically keeping me from trying this new activity, I knew I wanted to push myself into this scary unknown no matter what. I find that while traveling new, unusual opportunities become available and it’s a matter of courage and trust to take them.

When you have the security of funding behind you, it becomes easier to break out of your comfort zone. It is because I have the knowledge that I do not have to worry as such about limitations with external and, instead, instead focus on just experimenting fearlessly.

My first time really pushing the envelope was with Geylang Adventures, a local social enterprise exploring the often-misunderstood district. My intern coworkers and I received a night walking tour that lasted three and a half hours, and we saw the underbelly of the district from a local’s perspective. Our guide was a local graduate student who grew up in Geylang. He explained the history behind the current state of Geylang, from the impact of the historical Little India riot to the types of illegal activity conducted openly in the area. I saw it all, from the brothels in and out of the legalized red-light district to the subtle attributes of the environment purposely designed for either security, social, or business reasons.

To my surprise, the tour was completely safe and informal, without once causing tension with the locals. This openness allowed our tour group this unique learning opportunity. In attending this tour, I took a chance and put trust in my guides to keep our group safe. In the end, I walked away with a very comprehensive understanding of the hidden industries of the normally clean-cut country.

Each time, I was brave in chasing unprecedented opportunity because of numerous support from others that made my amazing experiences abroad possible. Without this help, I could not imagine as an unforgettable summer as I had.

Internship at United Nations Head Quarters (New York Office)

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Sojin Kim, NUR ’18

During this summer, I worked as an intern at Medical Services Division at United Nations Head Quarters (New York Office). Medical Services Division monitors health status and executes initiatives to improve quality of medical services provided to UN staffs including the Peacekeeping officers. As an intern, I was mainly responsible for monitoring epidemic outbreaks in the member states, evaluating quality of healthcare services in UN clinics and Peacekeeping missions, and supervising qualification of medical officers to be deployed to Peacekeeping missions around the world.

If I have to put my 14-week experience at the UN into one word, it would be ‘multi-culturalism.’ On top of all the technical aspect of work, I always had to keep in mind that I am working with people from diverse backgrounds. All supervisors come from different countries and backgrounds. Some are even more fluent in French or other UN official languages. Other interns are from different countries. In fact, there were 7 interns in our division over the summer and only 2 of them were U.S. citizens.
This is not limited to staffs in the Medical Services Division. Every officer I met during the internship came from different countries in which they had different work culture and environment, political structure, education system, language, health infrastructure and level of development in technology. As each staff I communicated had different level of expectation according to their backgrounds, every task involved standardization within certain level of flexibility. I believe this feature distinguishes the experience at UN the most.

Overall, UN provided a variety of global opportunities besides work. Plenty of meetings and events are held in the HQ office and interns are allowed to participate most of them. I mainly observed Security Council meetings and participated events held by delegations. Other interns also observed different Council meetings which they were interested in. In addition, I had chance to see the Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of UN, during the Townhall meeting.

After I received the offer letter, I hesitated working for UN for a few reasons. One of the problems was that UN does not pay interns despite of high cost of living in New York city. Also, internship at UN does not offer full-time position after graduation. As I wanted to find a position that can lead to next step of my career, I was not fully positive on making decision to spend my summer at UN.

With a variety of resources I could experience and made me learn, however, I do not regret spending my last summer vacation working at Medical Services Division at UN HQ. If any of you reading this want to gain experience at UN HQ, do not hesitate it and go for it!

Informal Networking Opportunities

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Much has been written about networking and its importance in the job and internship search process. When meeting with students, I try to make a distinction between formal networking and informal networking. While formal networking opportunities include events such as career fairs and information sessions where the assumption is that attendees will “network” with each other, it can be easy to forget that informal networking can lead to some interesting possibilities. A recent experience reminded of the value of informal networking.

While on my commute to work one morning, I was standing next to two individuals engaged in conversation.  Everything else was so quiet that the only thing you could hear was the loud conversation.  After a few minutes, it was very clear the two individuals did not previously know each other – they just happened to be sitting near each other and decided to strike up a conversation.  I noticed that one person was a college student seeking advice and the other a working professional.  One thing that was memorable was the end of the conversation where the professional offered his business card and his willingness to connect the student with someone he knew that could possibly help.  And all of this happened on a random commute one morning – an example of an informal networking situation that you may find yourself in when you least expect it.

So if you have the chance to engage in informal networking and have a conversation with someone outside of a formalized networking event, think of it as a opportunity.  You never know who you will meet and where the conversation may lead.

 

How to Navigate Professional Conferences

By: Fiona Tang, Graduate Assistant

It’s the time of the year again for professional conferences organized by different student groups. Selecting which conferences to attend and how to best maximize the value of each conference can be a challenge for students who are busy with school and recruiting.

Therefore, I will share some tips on how to successfully navigate various professional conferences organized by student groups.

Which conferences to attend?

Many conferences take an entire day, which is quite a time commitment. Therefore, carefully selecting which conferences to attend is important for your time management.

For freshmen and sophomores, conferences are some of the best boot camps to explore an industry and geographic location. If you are interested in learning about private equity and venture capital, then attending a private equity/venture capital conference is the best way to learn about the biggest funds, industry trends and network with potential future employers. If you are interested in an internship in China, then attending China Forum is the easiest way to connect with local employers and students. I would also recommend expanding your horizons by participating in conferences focused on industries you have not explored thus far – there are more job opportunities available beyond finance and consulting. Attending different conferences during freshman and sophomore years can potentially expand your career options.

For juniors and seniors, conferences can also be opportunities to learn about industries/geographic locations, but more importantly they are valuable for networking with future employers. By junior and senior year, it is helpful to have a sense of the industry/location that you would like to target. Given the busy schedules of recruiting and classes, being selective and targeted at which conferences to attend is important. Try your best to Identify you career interests first and attend relevant professional conferences is probably a better option than attending all of them.

How to maximize the value of the conference?

Being well-prepared in advance can save you time and maximize the value of the conference. Review the conference schedule prior to the event and identify specific workshops/forums that you would like to attend. Do your due diligence on the speakers/firms that you are interested in so that you can better understand the topics discussed and ask meaningful questions during the conference.

During the conference, network, network and network! Some students might believe attending conferences is just about listening to different talks. That might be true for freshmen and sophomores, it definitely should not be the case for juniors and seniors. Companies come to student organization conferences mostly for networking and recruiting purposes. It’s important to spend time networking after each talk and get contact information from the speakers, particularly for firms of great interest. Another way to get involved is participating in the conference planning team. For industries/geographic locations that you are interested in recruiting, getting involved in the conference planning team is a great opportunity for outreach and networking with different companies.

In conclusion, conferences are fun and great ways to network and learn about industries. Enjoy these experiences and make new friends while you are there!

Mid-Summer Internship Advice

By: S. David Ross, Associate Director

Difficult to believe that August is almost here and the summer will be ending before you know it. For those of you working this summer, here are some things to consider before finishing your internship:

– Take some time to assess your performance thus far. Some employers have mid-summer performance reviews as a component of their internship programs while others do not. If you have a performance review soon, be prepared to share your accomplishments and contributions. If you have completed a performance review, be sure to implement the feedback and advice on improving your performance – you can also think of ways to take initiative beyond your required duties. And if you do not have a mid-summer performance review scheduled, consider asking your supervisor for a meeting – if that is not feasible, you may want to ask for feedback on your performance to date.

– Carefully continue to cultivate and expand your network at the organization. Be careful with this – do not attempt to simply meet as many people as you can at your office. Try to connect with your colleagues and show your interest in working at the organization by developing your network. Be sincere in your outreach and thankful for the time given from by co-workers. Consider meeting someone for lunch to ask questions and learn more.

– Think about what you want to accomplish during the remainder of your internship. Are you hoping to gain experience in a certain area? Do you want to work on a special project? Do you have an idea for something new and innovative? You may have a chance to accomplish more than you think before your internship ends so brainstorm some ideas now.

– Document your progress in your internship. It can be helpful to have a detailed list outlining what you worked on during your internship so that you can craft strong accomplishment statements on your resume. Be mindful of any confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements you signed with your employer not to share any sensitive information but certainly track your projects and duties carefully to help you recall important details in the future.

– Consider who you may want to ask for references for future employment opportunities. If you already have one or more individuals in mind that is helpful. If you are not sure who to ask at this point, consider the possibilities to avoid having to track down candidates at the last minute. You do not need to ask for references during the middle of your internship but it may be a good idea to start thinking about who to ask at a later date.