A group of New Zealand-based tertiary students and young professionals say they are already reaping the rewards of a pilot internship programme based in and around Taichung City, Taiwan.
Eight participants from businesses and tertiary institutions from around the country were selected to join the programme, which is run as a collaboration between the North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE), the Taipei-based International Trade Institute (ITI), and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TECO).
For four weeks, the interns immersed themselves in local business and homestay environments, gaining valuable work experience in foreign companies and strengthening their language and intercultural skills. As a result, the participants said the programme had a profound impact, personally and professionally.
Abbie Wilson is a civil engineer at the Christchurch-based AECOM. She described her internship at Concord Technology Co, Ltd (Concord) as “rich and rewarding”, noting that she learned new technical approaches to water treatment and water purification. From an intercultural perspective, Abbie said the “initial shock arising from the language barrier quickly fell away to a deeper connection between people” and she “learned about human interaction to a level I have never experienced before”.
Andre Andersen echoes those sentiments. Andre, who is undertaking a Graduate Diploma of Arts in International Relations at the University of Auckland, interned in the marketing department at Yeong Jin Furniture Factory. He spent his time researching how to enter and navigate export markets. In addition, Andre practiced his Mandarin and shared stories of New Zealand workplaces and lifestyles with his colleagues.
“By living and working locally I was able to have an almost complete immersion experience and gain insight into how very different Taiwanese and New Zealand’s business and work styles are,” said Andre, who was warmly welcomed by a homestay family of four.
“From the outset, we were confident of the programme’s potential to help build positive business and cultural linkages, and we are delighted to already see good outcomes,” said Professor Paul Clark, Director, North Asia CAPE. “Internship opportunities like this can facilitate long-lasting, people-focused economic and cultural engagement in North Asia.”