AsiaLIFE intern and University of Cardiff student Jess Warren examines the first intake at InternVietnam.
All over the world, thousands of young people undertake internships every year to boost their employability, learn about the world of business and discover their own likes and dislikes.
The practice is only just emerging in Ho Chi Minh City, and InternVietnam is one of the pioneers. InternVietnam’s first intake of 12 British university students arrived in the city in early July for two-month placements at businesses around town, including at AsiaLIFE magazine.
Feedback from the first group has been overwhelmingly positive, and InternVietnam is planning to bring 40 students to town next summer.
InterVietnam Programme Manager Paul Yeandle believes internships in Asia offer amazing benefits for the internee and the company who hosts them. Paul, who once interned at a British Chamber of Commerce in China, spent five years working for InternChina, InternVietnam’s sister company.
Travel can be so educational, and when it’s fused with practical work experience and significant cultural insights, the impact of the experience can be even bigger, Paul said. Interning in Asia can also drive personal and professional development, and increase the intern’s future job mobility and self-confidence, he said.
Finding an internship on your own can be quite difficult, but companies such as InternVietnam act as facilitators. Paul explained how InternVietnam regards itself as different to other internship providers.
“We pride ourselves on exceptional support and going the extra mile. We are different by investing the majority of our staff in Asia as opposed to in sales offices in other parts of the world.
“We offer complete flexibility in terms of arrivals and offer bespoke and flexible programmes to all of our university partners.
“We aim to be the global leader for internship programmes and at the heart of this will remain student support and personalised care.”
Vicki Offland, InternVietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City branch manager, has been working in Asia for almost four years, and is the new face of InternVietnam, having gained the position last month. She believes that InternVietnam create strong and trusting working relationship between participants and host companies.
“We are able to build trust through our unrivalled support for both the student and host company prior to, during and after the placement.
“We keep our communication open and fluid to receive constructive feedback to ensure that both the student and partner company are mutually benefitting from the placement.
“The application process is completely transparent and partners have the decision to who they hire or don’t hire.”
A benefit of operating within Ho Chi Minh City is the well-connected business community, Vicki explained.
“We do a lot of networking at chamber (of commerce) events or local networking events, often we are able to be introduced through a mutual connection.
“Once we have made an initial connection we arrange a meeting to explain more about InternVietnam and our services as well as find out more about the work and set-up of a potential host company and project opportunities for the students.
A large part of what makes a successful internship for both the participant and host is having an open mind and willingness to learn. The most successful internships are where the participants work hard, are inquisitive, and show a desire to understand and learn.
If the participant and host can agree to several key objectives of the internship, such as skills to gain, and projects to complete, it creates a focus that they can work together to achieve over the placement period.
When a participant can build trust with their host they will be given more responsibility and exciting projects to work on.
It’s also important that the host is welcome to new ideas. Sometimes the participant may be able to contribute their skills in a certain way to benefit the company, that hadn’t previously been thought of.
As this was the first run of the programme, Paul explained how the participant feedback was filled with fantastic comments towards the liveability of Ho Chi Minh City and enjoyment of their time in Vietnam.
Grace Bishop interned at International Alumni Job Network (IAJN), a small business that enabled her to take on a large amount of work and responsibility.
After a quick and seamless application process that took less than two weeks, she set off to complete her summer internship.
“InternVietnam supported us with weekly meetups for dinner, a range of organised trips, such as visiting the Mekong Delta, and regular support from the programmes manager,” she said.
“By staying in apartments with other students, we created a support network for the two months we spent living in the city. That made it much easier than living purely on my own, in a country I don’t know very well.
“This internship has made me realise that I would love to work in Asia, not only can I see myself moving back, but would fully recommend the programme to anyone else.”
As InternVietnam grows in the years to come, they aim to welcome students from across the globe. The goal is to place at least 100 participants a year, as well as to provide more than just an internship.
“We expect a large number of young people to enter our programmes in Vietnam. The country and Saigon itself have a lot to offer with fantastic food, a wealth of hidden gems and fantastic travel and business opportunities” said Paul.
“We expect to integrate a language element as well as charity work into the InternVietnam programmes so that, as an organisation, we can give back to the local community,” Vicki said.
Editor’s note: Jess was a great intern, instantly becoming a productive and valuable member of the AsiaLIFE team. Thank you, Jess, and good luck for the future!