Intern Abroad: Mai Tran
Name: Mai Tran
Major: Management Science | Accounting
Class: Phi, Fall 2013
Company: General Electric (GE)
Program: Global Growth Operations Internship Program
Location: Manila, Philippines
Describe your internship in one sentence:
An amazing experience to get away from familiarity and routine to give me a chance to reflect on my professional, personal, and collective self.
How did you hear about this opportunity?
I knew this summer I wanted to travel, but also didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work. In early November, I began researching possible opportunities to work abroad - and I began within my network. I heard about the opportunity through colleagues and friends, who referred me to their connections - this allowed me to have more insight into what the position would entail, which helped tremendously in the interview as well as my final decision on interning abroad.
How did you obtain this position? What advice would you give to those who want to intern abroad?
Do a lot of research beforehand, and speak to as many people as you can from the company. You can really only learn so much from reading the company website - how you’ll learn about the company culture and environment that you’ll be working in is by interacting with its current employees. Since this was my first time interning abroad, I delved deep into the research by using my network of GE employees who had common connections with me on LinkedIn, then moving onto cold-emailing those employees asking questions regarding the day-to-day experience at GE, the company culture, and wherever else they chose to guide the conversation.
What did your day-to-day look like? Any special projects you're working on?
Nothing was fairly certain in my day-to-day routine except meetings - Everyday I would have several meetings and presentations with the business leaders of the different GE initiatives. Because it was my first time working in the Philippines, my supervisor wanted me to get a feel of the Philippines’ corporate culture as well as thoroughly understand the different sectors within GE. Some projects I was assigned were: Peer-to-Peer Reviews and Improper Payment Reviews, which both fall under internal auditing. I reviewed financial documents and transactions for GE Thailand, Japan, and parts of USA. It was surreal to be able to play a role in global operations at a multinational conglomerate company.
What kind of impact were you able to make at your company?
I felt that I made a significant impact as an intern. I’ve honestly never felt my opinion matter as much as when I worked at GE. Each week, I would do research on current initiatives and projects and drafted forecasts of the company’s expected earnings in the upcoming quarter. My supervisor trusted and encouraged me to contribute ideas in meetings with global GE leaders.
Compare interning abroad vs. interning in the U.S.
The US definitely has a stricter corporate culture. In the Philippines, punctuality was expected BUT the environment was definitely more lax - people took breaks whenever they needed and you are welcome to come in and out of the office as you wish - as long as your work gets done. I think that this relaxed corporate culture definitely promotes a healthy life-work balance, but could easily get out of hand for those who need more supervision and micro-managing. I see pros and cons with both but that’s the beauty of getting to know the multifaceted perspectives of corporate culture - learning what type of environment I would work best under!
How has DSP prepared/supported you in this experience?
DSP has definitely prepared me in terms of how I present myself to my superiors. I wasn’t as worried about daily meetings and presentations because I feel that DSP has given me the communication and analytical skills I need to properly engage an audience. I’ve always been more of a listener than a talker in the personal as well as professional sense, but being in DSP has catapulted me out of my comfort zone and now I feel that I wouldn’t have much trouble sparking up a conversation or keeping a collected professional demeanor in front of anyone - whether it be fellow peers, coworkers, or superiors!
What did you learn from this experience?
Honestly, I could write a book about what I learned from this experience. Within the eight weeks that I was interning at GE, I was also immersing myself in the rich culture of the Philippines and had many opportunities to reflect on my personal perspectives. The top 3 things I learned were:
1) How to work with individuals from entirely different walks of life
2) The importance of taking initiative (in the workplace, as well as in real life)
3) That traveling (not being a tourist) has a way of broadening your mind and filling your soul with curiosity like nothing else can.
What advice would you give to someone looking into interning abroad?
DO YOUR RESEARCH. You never want to commit yourself to an opportunity abroad if there is a bigger learning opportunity at home, or even worse - a company abroad that might not be right for you at all. A lot of opportunities abroad may sound appealing on paper, but what good is it if you don’t enjoy the experience or don’t believe it is meaningful work when you are actually working there? You never want to go work abroad on a whim. If that’s your mindset, you should just take some time to travel - which is great too! So understand exactly what you’ll be doing for the company and if possible, ask for the specifics of the projects ahead of time. I was very lucky that GE catered the projects to what I specifically wanted to learn, and I confirmed this before accepting the offer. Know your worth as a professional - help yourself do so by researching and communicating with the company thoroughly.
Come meet other brothers like Mai during our recruitment week!