[GIC 2016] SE Vietnam’s Director on Internship Abroad Management
During the period from June 15th to June 17th 2016, Ms. Mo Nguyen – Director of SE Vietnam, together with representatives from educational institutions around the world, attended the 2016 Global Internship Conference on the theme of “Internship: A revolution in global education?” Being one of the leading conferences focusing exclusively on experiential education abroad, GIC brought together professionals and successful organizers in the field to discuss on the ongoing trend of global internship.
Ms. Mo at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (Boston, MA).
Ms. Mo shared her honor to have participated in this event, to have met and talked with prominent international educators from many different countries, listened to their success stories as well as shared her own experiences working with students during their internship in Vietnam.
Ms. Mo with one of the conference attendees at the conference venue.
Out of the various topics being discussed, management while abroad seemed to be drawn the most attention. Listen to Mo’s stories sharing about her experience securing internship for students in Vietnam.
Concern #1: How to make sure students really work during their internship?
According to Ms. Mo, mandatory pre-departure interview and orientation play the key role in addressing the concerns, demand and standards of both parties – the student intern and the host company, as well as of third party service provider like SE Vietnam. By setting out clear instructions and expectations before arrival, those who are involved would be well aware of their role thus eliminate unnecessary misunderstandings during the internship period. Organizers should call the student’s supervisor regularly to be attentive to her performance. Weekly mentoring/meeting also helps the student intern have a regular self-reflection on her job, her professional skills and how to develop them more efficiently in the future. Additionally, the local buddy system plays the key role in SE Vietnam’s management of internship programs as these local friends bring about open conversations with the intern through which SE Vietnam can gain insight into the intern’s experience with her work and the host company, and develop proper solutions accordingly. Ms. Mo suggested a regular report with the student’s professor back in her home country also help the program organizer keep track of the student’s performance and her attitude towards the internship in Vietnam.
To summarize, SE Vietnam develops our own fundamentals for every internship in Vietnam:
+ Conducting interview to be clear about intern’s expectation, knowledge, and their responsibilities for their internship
+ Weekly Friday check with intern
+ Having the support from local buddy system
+ Regular report to the intern’s home professor
Concern #2: How to gain intern’s parents trust?
Internship abroad requires the student to leave their home country for a new environment, even one with totally different language completely and very different local scene. This, of course, brings worry to a lot of parents as they cannot make sure their children’s safety from afar. There are so many different types of parents, but surely all of them share one thing in common: they love their children. Different parents have different ways of dealing with situations that happen to their children, especially when their children are not with them. SE Vietnam’s principles while working with the parents are:
- Be honest
- Be clear
- Be responsible and accessible 24/7.
Every intern must provide their emergency contact to us, at the same time they must also know our emergency contact – which is of course reachable at anytime. Intern is connected with our social network even before they arrive in Vietnam. By being friends on Facebook, for example, the intern talks with our program coordinator, with his local buddy, and we can track his flight route, his location, etc. accordingly. Once the intern arrives in Vietnam, that is SE Vietnam’s responsibility to make sure he is safe. We upload and share with the parents the photos, videos about the interns, almost every day during his first week internship. By doing so, the parents would be updated with what happened with their child. Sometimes, we – being the intermediate, seek to heal and make both sides (parents and the interns) understand each other more. By doing so, we make sure that every affiliated party is happy with the internship in Vietnam.
Concern #3: What students need to be prepared for Pre-departure?
“No preparation for Nothing” – this quote is always right, especially when an intern is going abroad. At this stage, apart from all logistics such as airport pickup, housing and local transportation, the often missing stage is the traveling period – from the intern’s home to the airport in Vietnam. You prepare when you are at your home, you prepare for when you are in Vietnam, but how about the between stage? What would possibly happen then? Your luggage might be lost? Your flight might be delayed? You might not be allowed to enter Vietnam because of the visa? When you get out of the airport, you do not see any person greeting you? What to do now?
SE Vietnam requires all interns to attend the Pre-departure check (often conducted via Skype) at least one week before their departure date. The pre-departure check is the time we go through all items on the list of what to bring, and we gradually jump to each situation with guidance and what to do in such cases. By doing so, in almost every situation of whatever context, students know what to do and how to manage by themselves. Anything can happen, so the principle here is to provide clear, enough information to make sure that the intern can survive in any case. Therefore, for example in the case he gets out of the airport, he does not see us, there is nobody there to pick him up, he still can take a taxi by himself with our guidelines and his Vietnamese home address in his hands, which has been told to him at the pre-departure check. All of these preparations guarantee a good start for their internship in Vietnam!
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