International Intern Profiles
My experiences this past summer as an urban sustainability intern at The Paulson Institute in Beijing, China gave me firsthand exposure to the meaning of bottom-up organizational impact. The Paulson Institute is a think tank founded by former Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson, and is dedicated to advancing U.S.-China sustainability leadership. We had a fantastic office culture where our supervisors led by example. My work revolved around carrying out sustainability initiatives on the ground level in China, whether by conducting local case studies on China’s green cities or planning initiatives such as the Mayor’s Training Program. For example, for the Mayor’s Training Program, we flew 20 Chinese municipal leaders to major U.S. cities, including Chicago and New York, to observe successful urban sustainability practices.
Additionally, one of my proudest accomplishments was leading an internal, intercontinental technology initiative. I noticed that our existing method of task management was pretty limited, and saw an opportunity for significant optimization, so I pitched a solution to my managers. They gave me the green light to build various mockups, gather data, and eventually test several new task management apps on a handful of employees across the world, until we found one that really met the needs of our organization. After a successful testing period, we began to roll out the platform across all three of our international offices. It was really awesome to be able to take on so much responsibility as an intern, in impactful ways that would help streamline interoffice communications and improve productivity.
I was incredibly fortunate to have had such an inspiring and impactful summer at The Paulson Institute. Not only was I able to work on some really cool projects, but I also learned how to be more confident navigating the professional workplace, as well as how to be my own advocate and speak up when I saw places I could add value. I know these lessons will guide my experiences throughout future internships and beyond.
The summer I spent working as a student researcher at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has been by far the most rewarding one. I had a privilege to work under a world-renounced scientist Professor Nancy Y. Ip, whose research focuses on elucidating molecular players in neuronal development and plasticity. As a summer student, I was assigned to work with a postdoctoral scholar on a specific neuroscience project for a course of ten weeks.
The Metcalf internship provided the missing piece in many undergraduate research programs and refueled my interest, as it taught me to think like a scientist, not a lab technician. The unique structure of the program dictated that immersing into a project is as much about prior preparation as it is about the execution. After the application and interview process, the selected students were required to enroll in a spring quarter course called “Research in China.” In the class, I read and presented the literature papers published by the lab that I was matched with, which helped me polish my communication skills for various audiences and taught me how to ask engaging questions to other presenters. In addition, having already talked to the postdoctoral scholar in Hong Kong via Skype, I already had a solid understanding of the project that I would participate in.
"The program was extensive and challenging, but it was worth every bit because it was an all-encompassing experience that far exceeded my expectation: I was deeply engaged with my project, learned to design experiments like a scientist, met inspiring and hard-working lab mates and mentors, and befriended intelligent and open-minded friends from UChicago. As both a study abroad and career-related summer internship, the program expanded my horizon not only as a scientist but also as a globally aware citizen."
Was the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows Program what I expected it to be? No. Was my experience with the Wanxiang Group worthwhile? Absolutely. So much of understanding the workplace is contextualizing the environment. This summer, I was immersed in an environment far different from any I had ever experienced. I was immersed in a different country, a different culture, and a different dialect. I was forced to not only navigate my role within the Wanxiang Group, but also forced to adjust to a different society. We, as Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows, took classes for the first 3-4 weeks of our program. Classes ranged from Chinese Language to China’s Five Year Plan to biomass and renewable energies. The classes and this time period allowed me to adjust smoothly into my new home, teaching me vital history and language to enhance my experience. While valuable, this much energy spent on teaching interns is an atypical trait of what I, as an American, consider an internship. After a few weeks of classes, we began the true “internship” part of our stay. For two weeks we spent every day with the Wanxiang Electric Vehicle sector of the Wanxiang Group. Wanxiang Electric Vehicles did not give us responsibility as interns, but rather handed their workers the responsibility of entertaining us around the factory. While I did want responsibility and tasks, my reading and research of Chinese culture prepared me for the reality. Being prepared for this reality helped me to handle it when it presented itself.
"Do your research! Whether it is researching the country you’re going to, the industry you’re working in, or the specific company you’re working with – research, research, research. The more you know ahead of time, the more flexible and understanding you can be when things don’t go your way. Be open and flexible. Not everything is going to go as planned. As an intern, you do not have control over how operations are run and therefore you need to exhibit resilience. When I was with Wanxiang, my internship experience was not exactly as I pictured it. Being open and flexible allowed me to bounce back – to make the most of the experience regardless of the circumstances. It was keeping a positive disposition that truly allowed me to make the most of my experience. While I did not feel useful within the electric vehicle company itself, I did feel like there were many ways I could make my experience valuable. And so, I kept a positive outlook on the trip as a whole. Not everything in an internship will be perfect. In fact, I would argue you could have a more valuable experience when everything isn’t perfect. While you cannot shape your entire internship experience, you do have the ability to make the most of the situation you are given. I learned that research helps me to prepare for an internship or job, but at the end of the day it is my own personal outlook and disposition that will make or break the experience. Remaining positive and flexible will allow me to get the most out of every experience in the workplace. "
It seems almost an understatement to say that my summer working with Amazonia Expeditions was life changing. Before moving to the Peruvian Amazon, I was a pre-med student planning to major in Spanish Literature. Once I began living in the heart of the jungle in Peru, however, I quickly came to realize that I have a great deal of respect for the environment. I came back from my experience determined to be an Environmental Studies major, even though I have no academic experience in the field. In short, I fell madly in love with the jungle and became passionate about grappling with environmental issues.
I learned an incredible amount of information in the Amazon. I went into this experience thinking that I would learn about the ecology of the rainforests in Peru and later return back to life as usual in the States. While my experience did indeed teach me a great deal about the rainforest ecology, I learned more than I could have imagined from the local people. Living among people that grew up in the jungle, I learned to see the jungle from their eyes. Every part of a tree serves a very distinct purpose: its sap treats a malady, its bark can be used to make tea, its roots carry water that is safe to drink, its leaves can make baskets, and its seeds can be crushed to make paint. The people were not only incredibly resourceful but also incredibly intelligent. They knew the bird calls of five hundred different species of birds and could easily recognize what both genders, as well as juveniles, looked like. In America, we think that reusing an egg carton is resourceful, but in the Amazon everyone uses vines to tie things together and tea made from a shrub to cure malaria. It’s incredible to me that some consider these populations primitive, when I feel they are some of the most knowledgeable people I have ever encountered. I met about a hundred tourists while I was in the Amazon, all from different parts of the world and with different life paths. I really enjoyed learning from them and sharing in their appreciation for the jungle.
"I also learned a lot about myself during my time in Peru. I amazed myself with my endurance and strength in the many long days trekking through the jungle. More importantly, though, I fell completely in love with the jungle. This love has made me an enthusiastic Environmental Studies major and recycling fiend. I’m even thinking about starting an environmentally-focused RSO this winter when I return to campus from studying abroad during the fall...Five or ten years from now, I will remember the resourcefulness and appreciation of nature I learned through my experiences in the jungle. I will treasure the memories while using them to fuel my fight for the preservation of our world and our resources."
The summer after my third year at the University of Chicago, I participated in a Metcalf program in the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) in London where I worked as an intern in the Molecular Systematics department. While there, I continued work on a sequencing project of members of the family Stylidiaceae, focusing mainly on the genus Stylidium and a few sister groups. Plants in the Stylidium genus - also known as ‘triggerplants’ - are characterized by a unique pollination mechanism that is believed to cause isolation between individuals and factor into subsequent speciation. To sequence particular regions of interest in the genomes of these species, I extracted DNA from dried samples, purified the samples, amplified the DNA, sequenced the products, and edited the sequences in a specialized computer program. My task was part of a larger project to reorganize the phylogeny of this family based on new molecular data in order to understand what caused speciation in this family and, more generally, to understand the mechanisms behind this segregating phenomenon.
This opportunity proved to be a very educational experience. By spending significant amounts of time working in a wet lab like this - something that I had only done for short periods in lab courses in high school and university before my time at Kew - made me more comfortable in that type of environment. This duration and relatively low level of pressure helped to quell some of my hesitations with working in this sort of research position in the future. In addition, the practical knowledge that I gained during this time may prove useful in future courses I take at the university, laboratory positions on campus, in graduate school research, or possibly in a future career. Not only did I learn how to operate certain machines, robots, and various other technologies, but I also learned how to adjust the procedures and technologies that I used to get more accurate results. This type of thinking - which I found harder to practice with smaller projects and a set laboratory protocol - is something that will help feed a way of scientific thinking that will be invaluable to me in the future regardless of which biological career path I choose.
“I learned many specific skills during the 10 weeks, but I think the most valuable things I learned were less tangible. These include things like scientific problem solving and organizing an efficient work schedule independently... In addition, I think that the opportunity to work at such a well respected institution and amongst such talented and hardworking people has motivated me to push myself harder and explore more outside of my coursework. ”
Looking back at the six weeks I spent as a Wanxiang Ambassador fellow, I am in awe of how much I was able to accomplish. The initial three weeks consisted of Mandarin Chinese lessons in conjunction with seminars and study visits on Chinese culture, society, and their green industry while we stayed at Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic. We then visited Beijing, seeing all the sights before stopping by the University of Chicago Beijing center. We subsequently returned to Hangzhou, where we had a ten-day apprenticeship at the factory of Wanxiang Electric Vehicle.
The other highlight of the program was the apprenticeship. By asking questions, usually with the help of our Chinese-speakers, I gained a better understanding of the Chinese mentality, electric vehicles, batteries, and a lot of other miscellaneous subjects. Moreover, I finally understood that cost was the primary obstacle to the widespread adoption of green technologies. All of the employees I spoke to notably said that they were disinterested in buying electric vehicles given the higher purchase price. It was an astonishing consensus not only because they worked in the industry, but also because they were living in a country where the harmful effects of environmental degradation manifested everywhere. Interestingly, I also realized that China is perhaps the country most capable of leading the so-called environmental revolution because it has an authoritarian government that can implement national reforms with relative ease.
"During those six weeks, my friends and I wandered the streets of Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Suzhou. We hiked mountains, crossed lakes and canals, sang hours at karaoke booths, and ate an unspeakable amount of good food. Amidst all these memorable excursions and wild nights, we met people from all corners of China and the world, including numerous UChicago alumni. Hearing their positive experiences of living in China and their enthusiasm for the future, I came to realize that China is also a land of many opportunities, a place in which I can see myself living and working somewhere down the road. I had an incredible time in China, and no words can express how grateful I am for this extraordinary opportunity."
I looked forward to experience at Intrinsic Value Investors (IVI) LLP in London with much anticipation because I had many un-answered questions about my career options. I regarded my internship as unconventional from the beginning, a characteristic that appealed to me instantly. As a research analyst intern, I received direct guidance from Adriaan de Mol van Otterloo, fund manager. I was assigned individual projects that took a week or two on average to complete. These demanded an in-depth report of an industry or a company. As my job title hints, much of the initial work included web research and collection of data or familiarizing with the evolution of companies. The second-stage, my favorite part, included the creation of different financial valuations, a skill that was new to me, but also one where I have achieved most of the progress. I then wrote a report that was checked and critiqued by my supervisor. Finally, I presented my findings to the team.
"I carry many important lessons with me. Whilst, I am, of course, not a professional when it comes to investments, I will know in the future how to approach the valuation of an investment opportunity and will know the basic procedures of how to start finding out about investment opportunities. I also retain the good macroeconomic knowledge of industries and companies that I researched. I should also mention that all I have learned during financial accounting classes was now put to practice and gave me a cemented knowledge of reading and understanding financial statements by the end of my internship."
My summer experience as a Wanxiang Ambassador was incredible. The program involved about three weeks of Chinese culture and language study, combined with an apprenticeship at Wanxiang EV (Wanxiang Group’s venture into electric vehicle batteries) for the final two weeks. There were also small day trips to cultural sites interspersed throughout the six-week program. This experience was very helpful in determining in what I am interested in. It confirmed my interest in business, especially in markets, particularly when focusing on the differences that exist between global markets in China and the United States and how they are run.
The program worked such that one had to be responsible for one’s own learning, particularly in the apprenticeship portion of the experience. This was especially true of my experience and learning in the Wanxiang Polytechnic classroom where I was able to ask questions not only about the supply chain for the factory equipment but also about the workers’ daily lives. I learned a lot about the differences in culture between the United States and China. Seeing how Chinese societies operate and how citizens conduct their daily lives and leisure gave me a true appreciation of Chinese culture. My time interacting with the Wanxiang Polytechnic students allowed me to gain some invaluable communication skills and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share the experience with.
“Before the Wanxiang Ambassadors Program, a part of me believed that I was limited to only working in Columbus, or the United States. However, after this program, I could definitely see myself working outside the United States after graduation, and maybe in Asia. “
The six week Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows program in Hangzhou, China combined classes, cultural excursions, and an internship to immerse the ambassadors in China and its culture. The last two weeks of the program were spent in the company for the internship and were entirely focused on the battery making process. As an Economics major, it was interesting to learn about something very different from what I am accustomed to studying, particularly in such an environment. The factory lent itself extremely well to our educational process and we were able to learn through hands on experience. Furthermore, I was also able to learn a great deal about the Chinese corporation structure and working morals through the employees we interacted with at the factory. Many of the factory workers were simple people and made me realize how different social classes viewed and valued the world. Many of them had never traveled outside of Hangzhou, let alone the country, and were content with simply a nice family and house.
“What I value most about this program are the people I met through it. Not only have I made twenty-nine more University of Chicago friends, I also connected very well with students at the Wanxiang Polytechnic School and employees at the factory. Through them, I have been introduced to many Chinese social customs such as China’s biggest social networking sites, QQ and WeChat, and the favorite night time entertainment known as KTV, or Chinese karaoke.”
My externship under Mr. Michael Peters at Eastdil Secured, the first and premier real estate investment bank, was certainly a fruitful learning experience. For one, the chance to actually don a business suit and walk down Canary Wharf – London’s version of Wall Street – beside other high-flying executives gave me my first ever taste of the exciting, empowering lifestyle of investment bankers that I could only imagine prior to that.
The externship also allowed me to understand Mr. Peters’s career path. I was delighted to be able to find out how he landed a job in the pragmatism-driven investment field having graduated with a degree in public policy – a field not directly related to real estate or investment – from the theory-based education that UChicago offers. He also advised that I have something unique to talk about at future job interviews with investment banks, so as to set myself apart from other applicants. For example, he did a dissertation on a specific piece of banking law, which interviewers always found interesting. He also shed light on his motivations behind his switch from investment banking to real estate investment banking, and the merits of real estate which he spoke of caused me to seriously consider real estate investment banking as a prospective career option.
"The externship handed me my first experience of work life in a central business district and allowed me to discover the real estate investment industry and view it as a promising career option. Also, it enabled me to be better prepared in terms of the steps I need to take to land a job in the investment and finance sector given the education I am currently receiving. Even though the externship was just two days and I spent more of it learning about the industry, it was nonetheless a great learning opportunity and one that will certainly benefit me professionally in the years to come."
This summer, I had the privilege to spend eleven weeks in Taipei, Taiwan conducting biological science research through the Metcalf Internship in China program. I had an incredibly positive internship experience and would highly encourage the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, University of Chicago Career Advancement and the College to continue their support of the program and to expand the opportunity to more students.
My daily internship tasks were centered on my summer research project. My work was focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of my research area, proteomics, and the instrumentation required for substantive proteomics research, mass spectrometers. In the following weeks, I focused on learning and refining unfamiliar laboratory techniques with excess laboratory material. After mastering the lengthy sample preparation process, I moved forward with my own research project. Navigating the challenges which arose throughout the research project was an excellent learning experience. This practice will be incredibly useful as I pursue a career in medicine and biomedical research. In addition to my research experiences, I worked on a policy proposal to promote the development of and to elevate the status of the biotechnological, biomedical, and biopharmaceutical industries in Taiwan. I worked closely with two other University of Chicago undergraduates to write and present the proposal. This assignment was an excellent way to engage in meaningful discussion with my colleagues (outside of the usual laboratory research banter) and to gain a variety of perspectives. As part of our research for the project, we heard many views about educational objectives, challenges in both academia and industry, funding difficulties, job opportunities, and government policy.
"The summer was an exercise in careful problem-solving, thinking creatively, flexibility, and adaptability. Research projects infrequently follow the planned path, so it is quite important to have these skills, to maintain perspective on the project, and to learn something from all experimental results. Negative results can be as important as positive ones. Understanding and interpreting them is crucial for developing later projects."
My experience as an Ambassador Fellow at the Wanxiang Corporation was not a traditional internship, but a fellowship, most of which involved classroom learning, rather than hands on work experience. What I gained and will use in the future was not professional experience and connections, but an understanding of Chinese culture, language, and society. I returned from my six weeks in China a changed man: versed in Chinese philosophy and arts and learned in the modern Chinese state
The closest thing we had to a workplace was the ten day apprenticeship with Wanxiang Electric Vehicle, an EV battery company owned by Wanxiang Corporation. Our routine mainly consisted of touring the factory and interacting with the factory workers, who were more than eager. Some of the most insightful moments I had in China were in conversations with the factory workers in their break room, really quite telling about Chinese people, as we had a genuine opportunity to have genuine experiences with working class Chinese.
"I’m still not entirely sure about my future, and nothing is truly set in my life, but this experience definitely made me want to study Mandarin further, and spend more time in China. I was very excited by this opportunity, and my time there has only further piqued my interest: the Sino-US relationship is absolutely the most important relationship of the 21st century, I will seek out as many opportunities as I can to study or work in China in the near future, so I can better understand this relationship."
This summer I spent twelve weeks at J.P. Morgan Taiwan as an equity research intern in the Chinese automobile and auto parts sector. It was an incredibly rewarding journey, and I believe that I walked out of the internship with an enhanced set of analytical skills and a better understanding of the Asian automobile industry.
In addition to client requests and company model updates, I also worked on projects that involved more in depth research. One project was to identify the factors that lead to the differences in selling price of similar models across different countries and regions. I looked at models sold by Mercedes Benz, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Volkswagen in China, Japan, Korea, India, Europe, and the US and observed that the prices in China and India were a lot higher relative to those in other regions. The greatest reason for the disparity is the significantly higher tariff and taxes in China and India. Around 40%-50% (compared to the 20%-30% in other countries) of the retail price of the cars sold in China and India are due to import tariffs, high VATs, and consumption taxes. I found the project to be a valuable experience because I was able to better understand the position and maturity of the Chinese and Indian markets by looking at how their respective governments are protecting domestic automobile OEMs through the usage of high taxation on international brands.
Overall, I have really relished in my internship this summer. I’ve found the idea of being an expert on an industry and in specific companies very appealing, and equity research is now a career path that I am seriously considering in the future. Moreover, although I was not involved in the work of other teams, I have realized just how interconnected the various teams are. This was made apparent during our daily morning meetings, in which the Sales representatives would ask members of different teams the performance and forecast of their companies. I think it is exciting to see how various factors – both internal and external – can affect a company’s performance. Moreover, being able to anticipate and make forecasts about a company’s future performance and seeing how things play out in the end is another facet of equity research that I enjoy.
“This summer has solidified my interest in finance, and upon my return to school, I would like to take more finance related classes at Booth and to join more business-related RSOs to further enhance my knowledge in the field and to sharpen my skills. In the end, I would like to thank Career Advancement for giving me the opportunity to work at such a phenomenal position. It was highly rewarding and it is an experience that I will cherish from here onward.”
As an investment banking summer analyst with J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong, my daily tasks are quite typical investment banking works. I usually spent my days working with powerpoint presentation and excel to assist the analyst and associates. I also took note at client meetings and maintained several internal databases during my internship. In terms of projects, I got staffed on several long-term ones such as a project to analyze the general insurance industry landscape in Asia and due diligence work in a minority stake acquisition. From my summer experience, I really got a chance to see the world of finance and experience the investment banking lifestyle. In addition, being in Hong Kong offered me a great opportunity to see the financial sector in emerging Asia. From working on the job, I also learned a lot about managing expectations, time management, and good work ethics.
"Through my experience, I realize that although Asia currently has faster growth rate, the depth and complexity of the market still significantly trail behind the U.S. market. As a result of this, the work experience is not as rigorous and educational in Asia versus the U.S. Hence I am more inclined to start working in the U.S. upon graduation. In addition, my internship experience also altered my impression of investment banking. Coming in I expect a lot of valuation training but my experience Hong Kong was not all that quantitative. In addition, I got a first-hand experience investment banking work."