All-rounded ‘Preferred Graduates’
A Tale of Three Ambassadors When Plaisir Cheung, Koo On-ying Joanna and Yau Chi-wai Billy interned in the offices of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Toronto, Vancouver and Chengdu respectively last July, they found their placements unexpectedly challenging and memorable and were proud to make contributions to the Government and Hong Kong.
BSc (Hons) Enterprise Engineering with Management
KOO On-ying Joanna BSc (Hons) Enterprise Information Systems Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (Canada)
Promoting Hong Kong In the Toronto office of the HKETO, Plaisir worked on the promotion campaigns of the East-Asian Games and other events and provided general administrative support in the office. She also utilised skills learnt from the classroom in the revamp of the HKETO database management system, a Government department aiming to foster economic and trade ties between Hong Kong and Canada, as well as to promote Hong Kong’s interests across Canada. In the Toronto Dragon Boat Festival, an event to promote Hong Kong culture, Plaisir assisted in setting up booths and distributing souvenirs. She also promoted the East-Asian Games to be hosted by Hong Kong in December 2009 to visitors of the festival. “I hope people were impressed by our marketing and will visit Hong Kong later this year. I gained a lot and got to know my home city better,” she says. Plaisir was very grateful to her supervisors who organised a series of workshops and talks on topics such as presentation skills, press release writing skills and job interview techniques as well as on current issues such as Government administration services, the HK-Canada trade connection and Hong Kong people immigrating to Canada. “Such training and exposure allowed us to acquire knowledge and information not available through curriculum studies. All these opportunities expanded my knowledge about international affairs and enhanced my global outlook and cultural awareness,” she says. The first year student is thankful for the internship opportunity. “I believe the experience puts me in an advantageous position when I pursue my future career. The on-the-job training helped me explore my genuine interest and think about how I should plan for my career goal,” says Plaisir, who wishes to be able to contribute back to the Government and to work for the benefit of the next generation.
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Joanna benefited from evaluation and feedback given in review sessions with her supervisor. “We discussed my strengths and weaknesses. I took the comments on board to improve my performance and event organising skills,” she says. What’s more, Joanna was happy that she had the chance to meet two dignitaries which gave extra prestige to her internship. In early July, the Vancouver office arranged a luncheon when Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Lam Sui-lung Stephen, paid a visit to Canada. “My colleagues and I worked on the preset action plan for the event day. We set up the venue, designed the rundown and received guests and VIPs at the front door. She continues, “I never expected that I would meet a senior official
faraway from Hong Kong. I learnt a lot from Mr Lam’s speech on the economic ties between Hong Kong and Canada. It was really inspiring and impressive.” Another memorable experience came when she met PolyU President Professor Timothy Tong at a dinner organised by the PolyU overseas alumni association to welcome the new President. “I enjoyed listening to stories of my senior fellows and the interaction with Prof. Tong,” she says. “I was far from home, yet I still had ties with PolyU.” Joanna also met her secondary school teacher again in Canada when visiting the Chinese Culture Center in Vancouver. “He is now a manager there and I volunteered to help out with some activities there. This experience was also very rewarding,” says Joanna. The internship experience has given Joanna a good chance to reflect on her competence and career interest. “I now pay more attention to the world’s current issues because I know employers look for all-rounded people,” she says. She also appreciates the care she received from the PolyU alumni. “They were the guiding angels in my whole journey. One of the board members helped me find a home stay and took care of my daily life; others treated me to meals and took me sightseeing. I want to take every opportunity I can to say thank you to them!”
Restorations in Chengdu In the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Chengdu (CDETO), Billy received a totally different perspective and experience. During three months in Chengdu, Billy supported the post-disaster restoration work after the Sichuan earthquake and helped the victims. He also experienced the passion of the Sichuan people and tasted their spicy cuisine. At the start of the internship, Billy visited a site with the Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong, Mr. Tang Ying-yen Henry. “I was so excited when I knew that I could work with such a senior official from Hong Kong. My task was to assist my supervisor in event planning and co-ordination. I spent a lot of time planning routes and security measures and arranging accommodation and transportation for other officials coming from Hong Kong,” he says.
All-rounded ‘Preferred Graduates’
Also interned in the HKETO in Canada, Joanna was based in the liaison office in Vanconver. On top of the tasks of the daily routine and clerical support, she was an assistant event co-ordinator. To gain and learn the most from the promotional activities, she conducted research into the background of the organisers, the event objectives and VIPs being invited. “I also paid visits to academies, Government offices, community organisations and media groups, which all formed valuable experience for me,” she says.
Valuable meetings in Vancouver
On the event day, when the group walked towards the Mian Mao Expressway according to the original route, an aftershock suddenly occured. Billy recalls, “We witnessed rocks sliding from the mountain and the ground fissured. We had to cancel the visit for the sake of the safety of the Chief Secretary.” Because of this, Billy noticed the importance of contingency planning and the ability to deal with a crisis.
the reconstruction of the ruins. I learnt that good planning was more important than rebuilding the houses without any organised plans,” says Billy. The internship experience shed light on his career aims. He says, “Being a civil servant may not be as routine or monotonous as some people think. The opportunities offered by the HKSAR Government are diverse and eye-opening. I now have a strong interest to work in the Government and plan to get another degree in Legal Studies to better equip myself.” “Chengdu is a place that once you visit, you would never want to leave.’’ Billy found the city fascinating and unique. “Chengdu has a strong character that attracts travellers, such as the spicy food, the delightful scenery and the high quality living environment,” he says. “When I first arrived in Chengdu, I was reluctant to try the spicy food as I worried about my tongue getting numb. Surprisingly, once I had a taste of it, I learnt to appreciate the feeling of heat.”
In support of the post-disaster restoration work, though Billy wasn’t been involved in putting up the buildings with his own hands, he contributed in another way. “I handled some reports and proposals for
Chengdu ts lyU studen 2009, 11 Po received a er m m su In nto ed in Toro from who intern d support n a e m o lc stern a (E U warm we the Poly m o fr i n alum ssociation. Canada) A
YAU Chi-wai Billy BBA (Hons) Marketing Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (China), Chengdu
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Every year, Microsoft attracts a wealth of talents seeking career and internship opportunities in their offices worldwide. Demonstrated professional competence and with sufficient preparation, passion and sincerity, three PolyU students secured internship positions at Microsoft in Denmark and Hong Kong.
All-rounded ‘Preferred Graduates’
Nurture a Passion for the I.T. Industry
Work around the clock Lo Wai-kwan Kenneth, a final year computing student, stood out from countless competitors and attained a one-year internship in Microsoft’s Denmark office, Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS). The international office works around the clock and closely with the U.S. and Shanghai offices. To develop the new product, Microsoft Dynamics AX, staff in the three offices worked together, with Kenneth and his team in Denmark acting as the support between the developers and testers. “Due to time difference, every day when the U.S. team finished their work, they passed the project to us to follow-up. At the end of our day, we passed the job to our colleagues in Shanghai to continue the work. It was indeed an eye-opening experience to see how every minute was fully utilised,” he says. “In fact, the Denmark office itself is a miniature of the world. My working partners were from Poland and Spain, and there were people of many different nationalities such as local Danish, American, Swedish and Chinese,” he says. Under such a multinational environment, communication can be a challenge and sometimes language becomes an unavoidabe barrier. Kenneth managed to adapt and gain good understanding of various cultures and believes that the experience will highly enhance his future employability.
Copenhagen LO Wai-kwan Kenneth BSc (Hons) Enterprise Information Systems Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), Denmark
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Kenneth also came into close contact with Microsoft’s renowned management style of innovation and openness. “In Microsoft, employees are viewed as the most important asset and the company tries to give the best to their employees. For instance, we were allowed to work at home and on flexi-hours instead
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of sticking to the nine to five routine. This is a good reflection of the company’s trust in people,” he says. To allow a good balance between work and life, the company provides comprehensive facilities in the office. “There are video game rooms, a football field and climbing wall as well as rooms for us to take a nap. Also, unlimited refreshments and meals at discounted price are available throughout the day,” says Kenneth. He believes a set of good welfare policies can empower staff to maximise their potential, initiative and creativity. The internship has had a positive impact on Kenneth’s career goal and study plan. He says, “All of my workmates were graduates of with master’s degrees or even PhDs, so I often failed to catch up with their speed and work,” recalls Kenneth, who now plans to obtain a master degree in Computing before entering the employment market. He has also set his goal to join Microsoft HK. “I will make good use of my last university year to better equip myself,’ says Kenneth determinedly. Kenneth adds that the selection process for the internship programme was also a good learning experience. He went through three phone interviews, in which his proficiency in English, personality and computer knowledge were assessed. “Each phone interview lasted for over half an hour and was conducted by overseas Microsoft staff. In the last phone call, I was required to complete an online test on computer coding at the same time,” he says. He stresses one should be well-prepared at all time in order to grasp good opportunities that may come along.
Traditional Chinese Culture
All-rounded ‘Preferred Graduates’
A Chance to Appreciate
A five-week stint at Beijing’s Capital Musuem opened Ho Chui-ying Portia’s eyes to the motherland’s 5000-year history. Being an intern at the museum, one of the most modern and developed museums in the world, Portia acquired lots of knowledge of Chinese history, traditions and culture, she also gained more confidence in herself.
HO Chui-ying Portia BSc (Hons) Internet & Multimedia Technologies Capital Museum, Beijing
Through the Cultural Immersion Internship at Museums in Beijing, a programme organised by the Ministry of Culture, Portia was assigned to the Capital museum’s Information Center, assisting in designing leaflets distributed to visitors for an upcoming exhibition.
and culture, which might limit the duties I could manage, observing my colleagues and assisting my seniors was a process of learning too,” she says.
The Internet and Multimedia Technologies student was responsible for collating the exhibition information and selecting appropriate content for the leaflet. “It was no easy task since I did not have much knowledge or experience in printing and publication. I had no idea how to get started at the very beginning,” she says. “Luckily, my supervisor was aware of that and she showed me some samples from previous exhibitions as a reference and gave me advice throughout the task.”
The working attitude, competency and passion of the museum staff also inspired Portia. “I really admire their time management skills. In Hong Kong, many students would not start their work until the deadline approaches. It is very different in Beijing. People start to prepare long before the deadline and they always have sufficient time to accomplish their tasks which results in better outcomes,” she says.
At the beginning, Portia found it difficult to express herself in Putonghua. “Most of the time I just listened and stayed silent,” she recalls. With the encouragement from her colleagues, she communicated with them more actively. “They taught me that making mistakes is itself a learning process, you can never improve if you do not give it a try,” she says. Portia later also helped in designing a museum booklet for children. “We had to present the content with an approach to draw children’s interest. We came up with many interesting and out-of-the-box ideas. The discussion itself was great fun,” she recalls.
Passion at work
“Some people work just because they have to, but my colleagues in the museum do the job because they love doing it. They never complain about their jobs. They enjoy every aspect of their jobs and are willing to learn and accept new ideas in order to make the museum a better one.” Having been to Beijing before, Portia found it refreshing and unforgettable to revisit the capital city. “Beijing has changed a lot over the years. It has transformed from an ancient city to an international metropolis. Yet, it still preserves its unique culture, which is very impressive,” Portia says.
Although she could not witness the final production process of the booklet before she returned to Hong Kong, Portia was thrilled to take part in the project, especially when she learnt that her name would be printed on the booklet as a credit for her contribution. During the internship, Portia had picked up a lot of skills and knowledge from her co-workers. “Although I am not an expert in Chinese tradition
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Driven by her admiration for Russia’s exotic architecture and its mysterious culture, Qi Xiao-yan Angel participated in a newly launched two-way exchange programme to Russia. The one-month internship at the Uninvest Construction Company in Moscow was an experience of a lifetime to her.
QI Xiao-yan Angel BBA (Hons) Accountancy Uninvest Construction Company, Russia
Once Angel landed in Moscow, she realised the language barrier would be one of the biggest challenges and obstacles in her day-to-day life in the Russian city. “Very few Russians can converse in English. Of course, I could not speak any Russian, let alone read it,” she says.
To better fit in, Angel enrolled in a Russian language course at the Moscow International Higher Business School (MIRBIS). “Russian is a difficult language to pick up. I attended three lessons hoping to learn some elementary Russian for daily conversation,” says Angel. “Their accent was really difficult to master but it was so interesting to learn a new language.”
Multi-national work culture
In the office, English was the most popular communication tool as the staff were from different countries. “There were Korean and Russian in the office, hence, our daily conservation was mainly in English,” Angel recalls. “The Russian colleagues were always helpful and willing to teach us Russian in the office. They even treated us to dinner and took us to some scenic spots. They were really hospitable.” Taking the complicated Russian underground system, with over 170 stations, was like traveling through a maze, bringing Angel an arduous yet thrilling experience beyond her imagination. “I had long heard of the systematic railway system in Russia. The underground there is like a palace -glamorous, luxurious and spacious,” she recalls.
“The biggest challenge was to choose the correct route and recognise the right station name to alight through carefully listening to the broadcast during the ride. Fortunately, I’d learned the Russian alphabets in MIRBIS, so after several times, I was able to change between lines and find the right way to my destination in this maze-like Palace.” Russia, the largest country in Eurasia, is considered as mysterious and conservative because of its historical background and unique location. “Before going there, I just knew that Russia was a country full of cultural and historic treasures. In fact, Moscow was much more cosmopolitan and modern than I expected. You can easily find branded shops and luxury goods in the high street. People in Moscow have a high standard of living which is close to the European,” Angel says. Angel is thankful for the opportunity to the opportunity to join PGDP for changing her in many ways. “I used to be easily swayed by others’ opinions. But now, I have learnt to stick to my own thoughts while comparing others’ ideas objectively,” she says. Angel will will exchange to England in the new academic year. “I’ve become more open and flexible too. I now can face challenges independently.”
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After a life-changing voyage in Romania, Ip King-him Mike is inpired to help the underprivileged with his marketing skills in the future.
Through AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organisation, Mike received a placement offer to work for a non-governmental child organisation, Fundatia Inima de Copil (Heart of a Child Foundation), in Romania. The foundation helps and supports children and youth in need, such as orphans, the homeless and and sick children through through a wide range of social services.
Show of Good Deeds
Responsible for the planning and implementation of a strategic marketing plan, Mike effectively and efficiently applied what he learnt in university in his work during the two-month internship. With his knowledge of market research, he organised and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan and made constructive recommendations for the sustainable development of the foundation. For instance, he suggested different marketing and fundraising techniques to the foundation to raise public awareness and call for support.
While his marketing skills were strengthened, he also learnt to be observant and to analyse problems objectively. “It was a valuable opportunity for me to present my marketing plan in front of all the top management. This experience effectively enhanced my presentation skills in workplace. My study at PolyU has prepared me well for formal presentations in the workplace,” Mike says.
Enlightenment from the trip
Apart from the internship, Mike participated in a summer camp with 30 children from the organisation. In the camp, Mike delivered a cultural session to introduce the Hong Kong and Chinese culture. The children were all curious about Chinese culture and excited to know more about it. Mike enjoyed spending time with the children as they were fun to be with and allowed him to learn more about their needs. Mike was deeply touched by his colleagues’ zeal for helping the deprived children and providing them a better life. “I realise that to give is better than to receive. We are lucky to lead a prosperous life and should not take everything for granted. We need to treasure what we have and at the same time give a helping hand to those in need,” Mike says.
Galati IP King-him Mike BBA (Hons) Marketing Inima de Copil, Romania
The best marketers understand the real needs of the market and provide the best solutions in return. Mike believes a responsible global citizen should apply this marketing core value to people in need in society. “I hope in the near future, I can utilise my marketing capabilities and creativity to help those in need, “ Mike says. “My ultimate goal is to start my own business and therefore provide more financial aid to the poor.” Work-Integrated Education 2008/09 59
Welcome to the Afro-American World
Greece, the cradle of the Western Civilization, is where popular world heritage sites such as The Acropolis and Mount Athos are situated. Although Cheng Yiuhung Curtis did not visit these renowned sites during the two months he stayed in the mountainous European country, he had a meaningful trip to Greece which enhanced his strengths and knowledge. The second year student, majoring in land surveying, worked as an assistant land surveyor at the Public Power Corporation of Greece, a major electric power company supplying electricity to the country. “My responsibility was to carry out field work and to collect data. We usually did topographic surveys on the site,” Curtis says.
Ignorance generates misunderstanding. This is how the prejudices against different ethnic groups and cultures are produced. Harlem, a major African-American residential center in New York City, is notoriously a hub of crime and poverty in the U.S. Like many people, Woo Chung-hing, Yu Ngai and Mak Ka-leung were were a little concerned when they knew they would spend two months in the area. Thanks to an internship at a beverage and catering services company, Windows Over Harlem, the PolyU students built a totally new perception of the Harlem culture. During their internships, they had firsthand encounters with African-Americans which changed their impressions.
No Pain No Gain To conduct the survey, Curtis had to visit the company’s mining area and power plants in Megalopolis, a town in the western part of the country. It was his first time being in a mine and it was no easy work. “Working in the mining site was hard work which involved lots of physical labour. I got dirty and sweaty most of the time. Every night I had to wash myself thoroughly as I was covered with dust and dirt. After the shower, the tub was filled with darkcoloured water,” says Curtis and laughs. Though the work in the mine was tough and grueling, Curtis thinks it was all worth it as he has benefited immensely from the experience. “Through the internship, my problem solving skills were greatly enhanced. It also boosted my confidence in expressing myself in English,” he says. “Also, I learnt some new softwares which are not widely used in Hong Kong,” Curtis says contently.
Chung-hing says, “All my co-workers are nice and helpful African Americans. They always shared with us their culture and were very curious about the Chinese culture.” Interestingly, he discovered that many African-Americans presumed all Chinese could do kung-fu and he was often asked to perform martial arts.
Although he spent most of his time in the mining area, the Hong Kong student came across different cultures and had some great times with other trainees from different regions of the world after work. “I met a trainee from Jordan, an Arab country in Southwest Asia where most citizens are Islamists. Being an Islamist, my Jordan friend does not eat pork and never wastes a thing,” Curtis recalls. Curtis says he now not only has a better knowledge of the mine industry, but his global sense has been enriched as well.
Activities enhance mutual understanding To promote the interactions between the two distinctive cultures, the three Hong Kong students came up with the idea of organising a cross-cultural luncheon. The innovative idea was highly appreciated and supported by their supervisor at Windows Over Harlem. “It was a totally new experience to us. We planned the rundown and guests list, and contacted different parties. Although we encountered numerous obstacles during the preparation stage, thanks to the support and advice from my colleagues, the seemingly complicated project gradually got on the right track,” says Ngai. The big day finally arrived. African hop-hop music played. It successfully attracted over hundred of Harlem citizens and many were surprised to know that the luncheon was actually organised by three Hong Kong students. Ka-leung says, “It showed the friendliness and openness of the people there. Some voluntarily performed in the event, others brought along celebrities and politicians who made our event even more successful and attracted media coverage.” The experience and adventure in Harlem changed the way Chunghing, Ngai and Ka-leung think and see the world, getting them ready to take on challenges and differences in the real world.
CHENG Yiu-hung Curtis BSc (Hons) Geomatics (Land Surveying) Public Power Corporation, Greece
New York WOO Chung-hing / YU Ngai BBA (Hons) in Accountancy
BBA (Hons) in Marketing Windows Over Harlem, USA Work-Integrated Education 2008/09 60
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Toil to Learn More
Tam Tsz-ping Catherine travelled alone to Finland for her internship at the Helsinki University of Techology this summer. In the Automation and Systems Technology Department on the campus, Catherine learnt to work independently and had some great times with trainees from other countries.
As one of the six members in her research team, Catherine handled a project on an Environmental Control System, a new system to replace an existing machine in the laboratory which controls the temperature and humidity in the experimental chamber. Without any knowledge of the control system, she needed to design the system using computeraided design software, find the right components and purchase them from a Finnish website.
Global Global Citizens Citizens
Work Hard, Play Hard
“I learnt the software, Solid Edge, by following the tutorial kit installed in the software in three days on my own,” she says. “I also spent lots of time studying the data sheet and finding information about the components. With the help of Google Translator, I overcame the language barrier and finally purchased all the items online for the system.” However, the Peltier, a device used for heating and cooling, broke down during the testing process. To solve the problem, Catherine tried to find a solution with different approaches and contacted the component retailer directly for advice. Catherine’s supervisor took in her suggestion to replace the Peltier with a more reliable freezer and heating plate. “I was glad that my colleagues were all very helpful and friendly. They gave me new ideas for my project. Also, we talked about the cultural differences between Hong Kong and Finland. They taught me Finnish everyday,” Catherine says.
Meeting others from all over the World In addition, through joining the activities organised by IAESTE, Catherine met trainees from all over the world, including Germany, Norway, Ireland, Brazil, Thailand and Greece. In the beginning, she was quiet as she could not think of any topics to start the conversation. After a while, Catherine gradually opened up, enjoying the sharing and talks with other trainees. “Some of the friends I met were smart and intelligent. They can speak five different languages fluently. Some of them were kind and helpful, always there to give a hand. Some were funny and humorous, making the trip fun. After spending time with them, my global outlook has been widely broadened,” she says.
Espoo Tam Tsz-ping Catherine BSc (Hons) Logistics Engineering and Management
Catherine says though she found the new environment in Finland difficult when she first arrived, she stayed positive and took the initiative to make new friends to help herself fit in. She says, “There are always solutions to problems. I really had a wonderful time in Finland. I still remember we had a boat ride on the lake, with the midnight sun gleaming down on us. This beautiful scenery has been deeply embedded in my mind. It’s precious to have all these unforgettable memories of Finland!”
Helsinki University of Technology, Finland Work-Integrated Education 2008/09 62
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Competent Professionals Professionals Competent
A Prelude to a
Shanghai, now the financial and trading centre of China, has become one of the most ideal locations for anyone pursuing a career in the finance industry. Wang Fang-yuan George, a Global Supply Chain Management student, was thrilled to complete his five-week internship in Shanghai, enjoying the vibe of the city.
not just a listener. I had the opportunity to give a 10-minute presentation about a brochure of a new fund product of a competitor,” he says. “My seniors were open to all opinions and mindsets. My ideas were adopted sometimes. I felt that they treated me not only as an intern, but also as a staff member. I really appreciated that.”
After a tough screening process, George landed an internship at the renowned investment bank, Bank of Communications and Schroders Fund Management Company. The valuable internship has changed George’s perspective on his career and placed him into the business world. “During the internship, I met many fabulous bankers and investors who motivated me to pursue perfection and preciseness,” he says.
A test of endurance
One of the most memorable assignments for George was to turn an interview with the Chief Director of the Shanghai Stock Exchange Market into a report on corporate governance, a topic which he knew nothing about.
Shanghai Wang Fangyuan George BBA (Hons) Global Supply Chain Management Bank of Communications and Schroders Fund Management Company, Shanghai
To get the job done, he read articles and conducted research to equip himself with related knowledge. “It was hard at the beginning. Gradually, I understood you have to comprehend the notion of an assignment to complete your work,” says George, who was inspired by the brilliant marketing ideas and financial concepts raised in the brainstorming meeting.
Working overtime is a normal phenomenon in Schroders. George was also influenced by the culture and worked late to complete his tasks even on his birthday. “I had to rush a speech draft out for my supervisor that night. Although my senior asked me to leave and celebrate with my friends, I insisted on finishing the task myself,” says George. “It was the strong company culture and the business ethics PolyU instilled in me that motivated me to keep working. I never imagined myself being so committed to a job. When I was in school, I always finished my assignment on the due day for submission.” George is now more clear about his future career and study plan. “On the last day of the internship, I was really sad. I looked through the windows to see the high-rises all around and to feel the pulse of the Chinese economy. I know I will work in this city again,” he says with determination.
He was also glad to earn the trust and respect from the professional economists. “I was happy to be a participant, and
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Sheds Light on Career When Fashion and Textiles Year Two student Chan Fong-ting Fontinie received the details of her summer placement, she was anxious and edgy. But the experience has proven to be an eyeopener and beneficial.
Invaluable Experience from
Hands-on Practice NG Hei-laam Heida
Fontinie, who spent her summer internship at the famous Mainland menswear company, Eve Fashion Beijing Limited, says, “What I usually design and learn at school is women’s fashion. I was totally unfamiliar with menswear, including its sizes, trends and production.” Despite the anxiety, she took it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn a different skill.
BSc (Hons) Surveying
BSc (Hons) Property Management
Jin Yu Property Management Co. Ltd., Beijing
Assigned to the company’s Design and Development Department, Fontinie worked with five professional designers under the supervision of the Design Director. The first task she was given was to research and analyse several international brands as well as local competitors. “That was a very helpful start of my journey. Through the daily visits to different fashion stores, I have better understanding of the fashion industry and design in China,” says Fontinie.
Practice makes perfect
To know more about men’s clothing, Fontinie borrowed some garment samples and studied the measurements and proportions of different sizes and parts closely. She also read a number of Beijing fashion magazines to get familiar with the technical terms and jargon used in the Mainland fashion field. All these experiences have inspired Fontinie to pursue professionalism and be an all-round designer. Under the training framework, Fontinie designed a series of men’s casual wear for the company and was taught to come up with commercial designs. “I was so glad that my contribution to the company was beyond my expectation. Meanwhile, I could practise what I learnt from school and learn something more,” she says. One of the biggest challenges came during the last week of the internship. Fontinie was asked to come up with 40 designs for the line, Notting Hill, in five days. “It was a big challenge to me. I could never imagine I could finish the task on time with good quality,” she recalls. “I tried to apply my knowledge and creativity to design various cuttings and add some finishing touches which were not adopted in their previous designs.” Fontinie thinks the internship has broadened her career prospects and she is now more determined to be a fashion designer. “I realised my vision and creativity in the fashion context is not sufficient now. I will work harder and seize every opportunity in my remaining school life to better prepare myself for my future job,” she says.
My work !
Pursuing a career in a property management company is the ultimate ambition for most building and real estate students. Ng Hei-laam Heida and Wong Pui-wa, both received an internship offer from one of the fastest growing property companies in China, the Beijing Jin Yu Property Management Company Limited, and so have in taken a great leap in developing advanced skills in the property management profession during this summer. While the enriching internship has enhanced both students’ competency, the experience has opened up their minds and given them the opportunity to apply what they have learnt in real situations. Heida, a Surveying student, was offered the chance to work in two different departments during the five-week internship. “I was first posted to the Synthetic Management Department to assist with the mid-year assessment. It was a golden chance for me to get familiar with the mainland real estate market and the internal operation of the property management company,” she says.
CHAN Fong-ting Fontinie BA (Hons) Fashion & Textiles Eve Fashion Beijing Ltd Work-Integrated Education 2008/09 76
She then spent the rest of the placement in the Engineering Department, getting involved in regular patrols to pump rooms, air-conditioning rooms, fire pumping rooms, electricity and water supply systems. “Although I comprehended the basic Work-Integrated Education 2008/09 77
theories of building structures and facilities from my learning at university last year, it was my first time to apply them in real situations,” she says.
Be conscious of the surroundings To be a property management professional, one should have general knowledge about different aspects and understand the interplay between social, economic, legal and technological issues. The training in Jin Yu was a good start for her. “I visited the Security Department and performed a fire protection test and a fire fighting drill, in which I learnt more about the fire protection law in the mainland,” says Pui-wa, who gained compliments from her seniors for her initiative and meticulous observation. Pui-wa also assisted in the daily operation of building maintenance. “The manager explained to me the requirements for ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 certifications. These quality management systems focus on both the internal and external operation of the company and the reassessments are conducted every year,” she says. “I was thoroughly convinced that quality control is of the utmost importance in property management, no matter whether it is a little fire sprinkler or a central electricity supply room.”
HUNG Wai-ling Adele / CHU Wun-ling Wendy BBA (Hons) International Shipping and Transport Logistics
안녕하세요 Jungseok Research Institute of International Logistics and Trade (JRI), Inha University, South Korea
“Anyeong hase yo ( 안녕하세요 ) !” This is the Korean greeting Chu Wun-ling Wendy and Hung Wai-ling Adele learnt once they arrived South Korea this summer. The two girls had a valuable chance to catch a direct glimpse into Korean life during their two-month internship at Jungseok Research Institute of International Logistics and Trade (JRI) of Inha University, rather than just from watching a Korean TV drama series. Before they went to Korea, they were very worried about the communication in this nation where most people only speak Korean. But thanks to the enthusiasm and hospitality of Koreans, the language barrier was not an obstacle at all. “Although they did not know any English, they would try their best to help us,” Wendy says. The duo also appreciated the hospitality they received in JRI. One of the professors, who they affectionately called the “ Ice-cream Professor” because he always bought them mouth-watering ice-creams in the hot summer days, took them to watch a baseball match one day to experience the thrilling atmosphere of the game. They enjoyed the game so much that they sang and danced along with the local crowd during the match. On their last day, they were taken to the Incheon Global Festival in JRI, which provided them with a channel to learn more about the city and the Korean culture.
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During their stint in South Korea, their one-day tour to Sin-do, Si-do and Mo-do, the islands located in the northern part of Incheon, was another unforgettable moment for them. “The island promotes bicycle touring. However, we didn’t know how to cycle and we could only walk. When we felt extremely tired walking, a car with four female Koreans suddenly stopped and offered us a ride,” says Wendy. “The locals drove us around the islands and even paid the entrance fees for us at some tourist spots. We were very touched by their kindness and hospitality.”
Be a lifelong learner The diligent Koreans are also role models to Wendy and Adele. They joined a language exchange workshop catering to people who were interested to learn Korean or English. In the workshop, they met a middle-aged man who had only learnt English for two years, but already spoke fluently. “He reminded me to treasure every learning chance, especially in university life. He encouraged me to pick up my Korean lessons again when I returned to Hong Kong,” says Adele. The two months gave Wendy and Adele the opportunity to experience the working environment, lifestyle and culture of Korea through cultural exchange and sightseeing. To them, it was one of the sweetest and most exceptional summers of their life.
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Experience to Work in the Media
Being on the front line of the mainland media industry, Wong Mei-sze Karen experienced one of the most rewarding and unforgettable moments of her life and developed an interest in world affairs.
Under the arrangements of the Hong Kong United Youth Association (HKUYA), Karen worked as an intern at the national television station, CCTV, and assisted on the production of The Observer, a popular TV programme on the CCTV2 economic channel, during the one-month placement. “Every morning, the producers, editors, commentators and all the student interns gathered to discuss the biggest news of the day and decide the daily topic to work on,” she says.
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Effective communication and presentation skills are imperative in the mass media. The training at the mainland TV station which is viewed by an audience of over one billion every day has boosted the Karen’s communication skills. “Every decision needs to be made within a very short time. To play an active role, I had to present my opinions precisely and skillfully. This daily practice has significantly improved my communication skills,” says Karen. Karen once followed the reporters to interview the chief analyst of the Bank of China, Ms. Tan Yaling, which was featured in a special series, China-US Strategic Dialogue. Karen recalls: “Although the topic was complicated, the reporter presented it in a comprehensible way. I learnt how messages could be conveyed clearly and effectively to diverse audience group.” She was also impressed by the interviewee’s wittiness.
journalists. She found that her colleagues in Beijing placed a lot of focus on the content and quality of the show. “They spent a lot of time and resources in choosing the topic, doing research and editing. Also, every comment from the guest speakers has to be screened to ensure accurate messages are communicated,” she says. The internship opportunity also completely changed Karen’s impression about the mainland working culture. “My colleagues could manage many tasks in a single day. They set the topic, conducted the interviews and discussed the content. They also collected comments and cartoons from netizens, editing films and having the programme broadcasted. They are highly efficient,” says Karen. While her knowledge about the media industry has been deepened, she now has a better understanding about her career goal and herself as a person. “Working in the media is challenging as you need to be knowledgeable enough to handle massive information from various fields and subjects. Meanwhile, it is also very interesting as you will meet many people from various backgrounds and professions,” she says. “I do enjoy the challenges and the tight schedule of the media industry. The experience has certainly helped me identify my career interest. This is my goal after graduation.”
Quality is the first priority Karen was inspired by the professionalism of the mainland
WONG Mei-sze Karen BA (Hons) Language Studies for the Profession CCTV, Beijing
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Success Comes from Good Communication In the four-week project-based placement in Qingdao, Liu Tian-zhe Ollie experienced his first taste of being in a multinational team. Through the memorable summer internship, he realised effective communication is the key to success. Being a consultant trainee at the leading Mainland electronics appliance manufacturer, Haier, Ollie and his team, which comprised of a Russian, two Mainland Chinese and four other Hong Kong students, were required to work on a proposal for the company. In the very beginning, the collaboration among the seven members was not smooth at all due to the language barrier and cultural differences. However, they managed to find a way to work together. The entire team also benefited from their mixed backgrounds.
“English was not our mother tongue. No matter how hard I tried, I still wasn’t sure if the others understood my idea,” says Ollie, a Management student. “Since all of us study similar subjects in universities, we were able to reach agreement in the end. On the other hand, the different cultural backgrounds of the members brought in very distinctive mindsets and ideas to the project.”
The power of variety While one of the Mainland students who studies in Canada contributed some western ideas, the other Mainland undergraduate provided some valuable insights into the mainland market which helped the team to understand the situation in the Mainland and ensured the project was on the right track. The Russian member also shared the customs from his home country. “I didn’t expect such a multi-cultural interaction when I learnt that I would be having my internship in Qingdao,” says Ollie. To allow the Russian teammate to take part in the final presentation, the team decided to complete the research report in both English and Chinese, in spite of the fact that their workload would be literally doubled. “In fact, we only needed to prepare the report in Chinese. But we didn’t want to leave our Russian teammate alone as an outsider, we would like to have him to work with us as a team and have his contributions in the project,” says Ollie. Ollie is glad that the project was finished on time and without a hitch, even though the working styles of members were different. “We divided the projects into parts and each teammate focused on the area they are good at,” says Ollie. “Also, we were willing to accept each other’s ideas and ways of doing things. This is crucial to working in a team with such great diversity.”
Moscow Qingdao Hong Kong
LIU Tian-zhe Ollie BBA (Hons) Management Haier Group, Qingdao
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Creative Problem Solvers
Toronto Qingdao Hong Kong WONG Hung–san Benny BBA (Hons) International Shipping & Transportation Logistics Tsingtao Brewery, Qingdao
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An Exposure To
The Art of Consensus In the real business world, collaborating with people from different backgrounds and with different standpoints is an indispensable technique. Wong Hung-san Benny, an International Shipping and Transportation Logistics student, and six other PolyU undergraduates learnt the skill of reaching a compromise during their internship at the Tsingtao Brewery Group in Qingdao.
Assigned to complete a consulting research project for the brewery company, Benny and his team arranged a brainstorm session before their departure, to come up with a list of possible research topics and get better prepared for the project. “However, we later found that we would be joined by students from other universities and countries like Russia, Canada and the mainland. We had to include their ideas in the project and discuss the topic all over again,” says Benny.
From discord to accord When the students met in Qingdao and began their project, the Hong Kong students’ ideas were challenged. “The overseas students suggested a new perspective. They shared with us what they knew about Tsingtao Beer back in their home countries,” Benny says. “It was the first time we faced two totally different ways of thinking. We argued furiously, hoping they would agree with us. Luckily, in the end, we compromised after many rounds of discussions.” With the topic of boosting the sales of Tsingtao Brewery products locally and internationally, they aimed to develop strategies and plans to further enhance the business growth and development of Tsingtao Brewery.
The team first started with searching for information from the Internet and gathering the background information about Tsingtao Beer. They also conducted surveys at Qingdao’s Beer Street, Tsingtao Beer Museum and popular dining spots to learn more about consumer behavior. In two weeks, they successfully completed over 100 questionnaires, with respondents of different nationalities, such as Japanese, British, American, German, Canadian, and African. “You can’t imagine how much Qingdao people were attached to beer. They start to drink during lunch. And beer is far more affordable than water there! You can even buy freshly brewed beer packaged in plastic bags from small shops on the street,” Benny says. In the end, they produced a bilingual written report and presented it to the management of Tsingtao Brewery. Benny thinks it was challenging to package the information they had gathered and collated into a professional marketing analysis. The management from Tsingtao Brewery was satisfied with the high quality of their work. “The students injected some fresh and new ideas to the company. Although there is still room for improvement, we are impressed by their creativity and energetic personalities,” commented Mr Wang Feng, Regional Human Resources Manager.
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Creative Problem Solvers
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My work place !
During the first two weeks, Kenneth worked in the SINA Email department as an application administrator responsible for selecting relevant and useful spam. “It may sound an easy task. But when you had to check an avalanche of spam everyday, without an efficient method and with no clear instruction given, it could be really annoying and depressing,” Kenneth recalls.
WU Wai-kin Kenneth BSc (Hons) Internet & Multimedia Technologies SINA Corporation Beijing
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The four-week internship at the Mainland online medium, SINA Corporation Beijing, was an unforgettable experience and a good lesson for Wu Wai-kin Kenneth, which enhanced his problem-solving skills and prompted him to show more initiative. “Success never emerges by itself. You need to strive for it,” says the Internet and Multimedia Technology student.
To enhance efficiency, he sought help from his manager. “Now I know the importance of taking the initiative and planning ahead. Otherwise, it would just be a waste of time and resources,” he says. More challenges followed. Kenneth and his teammates were then asked to write a programme to select keywords from the title of every advertising mail using Visual Basic, a tool which none of them had come across before. “We panicked at first. But our colleagues were all helpful and nice. With their patient guidance and instructions, we finally got the
programme developed,” says Kenneth.
Overcome challenges While they were overjoyed by their accomplishment, they found that the programme was unexpectedly slow. To improve the performance of the programme, they tracked down the causes and tackled them bit by bit. Kenneth says, “It was really a tough process. Fortunately, our effort turned out to be very fruitful. We established a complete database which I believe would be useful to the company.” To Kenneth, the culture and energetic spirit of the company was what impressed him most. “In SINA, everyone seems very relaxed. In fact, they are very conscious of quality and efficiency,” Kenneth says. He and his teammates were also glad to be offered the chance to attend an internal monthly meeting. “It was a meaningful occasion since I could get a better understanding of the company’s structure and operation. It would be regretful if we missed such a chance,” Kenneth adds. In the one-month internship, Kenneth has developed a strong sense of belonging to the company and Beijing. “I wanted the internship to be extended so that I could explore the city further,” he says.
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Creative Problem Solvers
Breakthrough in Switzerland
As a native Chinese speaker, the computing undergraduate was assigned to optimise embedded speech solutions in Mandarin and Cantonese so as to meet customers’ technical requirements and market needs. “I participated in tuning the sound phrase in Mandarin and Cantonese for a Global Positioning System (GPS). It provided a valuable opportunity for me to learn the software of tuning sound waves,” says Joyce. She was also assigned to write a programme for departmental usage. “It wasn’t easy for me to write a programme with a specified programming language which I was unfamiliar with. I utilised my knowledge acquired through my Enterprise Information Systems study to solve all the problems step by step. I was glad to learn something new through different handson experience,” Joyce says.
Surmounting the language barrier
Apart from challenges encountered at work, the language barrier was another obstacle for Joyce. “To be honest, I was not that confident with my spoken English before going to Switzerland. I encouraged myself to communicate with foreigners,” she says. “If I took a passive role, I would have lost the chance to improve my spoken English and to know more about other cultures.” Through interactions with her colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, Joyce experienced various cultures such as Spanish and Turkish. She still keeps in touch with her Swiss colleagues after returning to Hong Kong.
Lau Yin-mei Joyce went beyond her limitations when she interned at SVOX, a global supplier of embedded speech recognition, speech output and speech dialog solutions for the automatic and mobile industries in Switzerland for three months.
When Joyce travelled alone in Zurich, she met a German girl on the way and experienced an in-depth intercultural exchange. They toured around the city and visited different attractions together, turning from complete strangers to travel companions. Joyce introduced the Chinese culture to the German girl and taught her some simple Chinese, also, she got to know more about the German culture. Being sociable and genuine by nature, Joyce made lots of friends and spent a wonderful time in Switzerland. “To celebrate Christmas, our company held a party. We then went to see an ice hockey game and enjoyed cheese fondue in a restaurant. It was my very first time to watch an ice hockey game and have such a delicious cheese fondue,” says Joyce. Now back in Hong Kong, Joyce continues to work as a part-time staff member for the company, which provides a valuable opportunity for her to further develop her computing skills.
LAU Yin-mei Joyce BSc (Hons) Enterprise Information Systems SVOX AG, Switzerland
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Creative Problem Solvers
CHAN Mei-ni Minnie BEng (Hons) Product Engineering and Marketing Christoph Miethke GmbH & Co. KG, Germany
Being Adaptable The two months in Germany was a tough test for Chan Mei-ni Minnie. Through the IAESTE arrangement, Minnie worked at a medical technology company in Potsdam, a city southeast of Berlin. “Being alone in a foreign country, you have to try every possible means to tackle all the challenges,” she says. “This trip has strengthened my adaptability and broadened my horizons. It has been a fruitful journey for me.” Minnie was assigned to the Marketing Department of the company which develops, produces and distributes neurosurgical products for the treatment of hydrocephalus, and was required to translate the company’s English webpage into Chinese to help the company enter the Chinese market. Through detailed review of the company webpage, which provides information about the pathology of hydrocephalus and the mechanism of the treatment products, and handling of the translation work, Minnie found that not only her language proficiency was enhanced, but her knowledge of product engineering design was also broadened. Minnie considered it a big achievement that she finished the translation work and had the translated text uploaded to the webpage before her departure.
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Another task given to Minnie was to design an adjustment instrument for medical purposes for the Research & Development Department and to illustrate it with the computer-aided design software, Solidworks. Minnie felt glad that she had learnt to use Solidworks at university and had obtained sufficient experience in using the software from previous academic projects. However, she had to overcome the challenge of finishing the job in one week. “The office closes at around six o’clock every day. To meet the deadline, I therefore had to work overtime by using my own laptop. Fortunately, I was able to finish the task on time,” Minnie says happily.
Travels with strangers Other than work, Minnie had some unforgettable travelling experiences in Germany by joining the Munich Weekend
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organised by the IAESTE Munich Local Committee. As the Potsdam Local Committee members were busy preparing for their examinations, Minnie had to arrange the transportation by herself. Since it would be too expensive to travel by train which costs over 100 Euros for a single ride, she got a pointer from her local friend and tried to save her costs through “car sharing”. She then searched for a car owner who had the same departure schedule, hoping to get a ride from Berlin to Munich by paying her share of gas costs to the car owner. “I was very lucky to find two seats for my friend and myself. We only had to pay 40 Euro per person. Compared to the train ride, it was a very good price,” Minnie says.