Asian University for Women
20/A M.M. Ali Road
Through summer internship placements, students gain professional experience to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and practical understanding. AUW encourages students to gain experience working with a combination of for-profit companies, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations. Such a cycle of internships will expose students to the work of various sectors, allowing them to make informed choices about their own career paths.
Our internship program has been successful over a number of years, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Career Development Centre and the outstanding performance of AUW students at past internships. The following timeline shows the development of the AUW internship program:
2010: 47 Placements
2011: 103 Placements
2012: 143 Placements
2013: 61 Placements
2014: 96 Placements
Read on to get to know some of our students and their internship experiences from the summer of 2014!
Savitri Kumari - Starbucks, United States
Although Savitri had never even tasted coffee before leaving for her Starbucks internship, she found that the welcoming company atmosphere, the guidance from her mentor, and her previous experience adjusting to diverse environments helped her make a smooth transition to her summer experience in the United States. After her third undergraduate year at the Asian University for Women (AUW), Savitri began an internship in the Operations Team of the China and Asia Pacific Markets department at Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.
Within the Operations Team, Savitri had several projects. One was within the ongoing plan to create a new customer voice service: Savitri had to communicate with different directors within the Asia Pacific market, and determine what problems arose in implementing the new service. She also reviewed articles to write research reports on what other companies were doing in the Asia Pacific market, in order to offer suggestions for Starbucks’ marketing strategies. Finally, Savitri contributed to the customer service book on how to interact with clients in different settings. Savitri describes that for these responsibilities, the “academic courses that I have taken at AUW – extensive reading comprehension, writing composition – all of this really helped me a lot.” In addition, Savitri credits AUW’s English language environment for the gains she has made in English fluency over the past several years, without which she would not have been able to intern at Starbucks headquarters.
Savitri has fond memories of her co-workers at Starbucks, as they do of her – starting with the welcome box of chocolates on her desk the first day, to the tearful farewell party when Savitri was finishing her last week. Thanks to an environment that valued exploration, Savitri developed several new skills and interests as a result of her Starbucks internship. She remarks, “I think it really developed me a lot – personally and professionally.” Savitri was impressed by how hardworking and focused her colleagues were, saying, “that gave me an idea of how disciplined I can be.” Always attentive to opportunities to learn from her environment, Savitri developed a stronger interest in business. She explains, “Knowing certain different fields, like business, and how this big company does business, was very interesting to me. It made me very interested to join their filed and maybe apply for an MBA.” Finally, making use of her particular internship setting, Savitri took the opportunity to learn how to make a mocha and a Frappuccino. For this young woman who had never had coffee before this summer internship, what was her favorite drink? “I think caramel macchiato.”
Savitri is now in her final year at AUW, and she is showing a renewed vigor in her studies after seeing where hard work can take her. Thinking about the future, her goal for next year is to explore the teaching profession. She shares, “Currently I am a peer tutor for physics and math, so I think it will be a golden opportunity for me if I could be a Junior Fellow [at AUW] just after graduating.” Her mind is also on long-term possibilities: Savitri thinks that further down the road, she might get her master’s, such as an MBA. For younger students, she says her advice is to “do their best” in whatever endeavor they encounter.
Fariba Housaini - Government of Afghanistan
Fariba took responsibility for her experience at the Government of Afghanistan, Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) last summer and as a result, she improved her understanding of the operations and structure of the Ministry. At first, Fariba was in the Drug Demand Reduction directorate, but she wanted to move to an office that matched her interests better. She made her case to the program coordinator, and soon she switched to the Alternative Livelihood directorate, which “warmly welcomed” her. Her new director created a work plan for her and also took the time to explain the Alternative Livelihood directorate. Fariba describes how she learned about “the filing system, major activities of the AL directorate and their outstanding achievement to reduce the rate of poppy cultivation in different provinces of Afghanistan.” Thanks to her change in office and her director’s involvement, Fariba says “My knowledge improved a lot and I learned a lot.”
Being able to exert agency over her internship helped Fariba take advantage of the MCN environment, and she says that it has been AUW that taught her to raise her voice. She describes, “The important thing I learned from AUW is having confidence, and women’s empowerment,” and Fariba applied these lessons at the MCN when she spoke up during her internship. She noticed that other women at the MCN were “subordinate” and that gender relations needed improvement. At the end of her internship, Fariba took the opportunity to make some suggestions to the minister and some directors. Speaking of the benefit of having other AUW interns with her at the ministry, Fariba shared how they “tried to convince them that we are young Afghan women with high ability of skills, free to raise our voice against discrimination and harassment and be the change to provide equal opportunity for women and men in a society.” The learning went both ways: Fariba reports that before her internship, she didn’t know how the ministry functioned or the structure. Now she commands a better knowledge of the MCN and she thinks that if she were to work for the Afghan government in the future, she could help make positive changes.
Anshu Adhikari - Bayer Thailand
Through a new partnership between Bayer Inc. and AUW, Anshu participated in an internship in their Bangkok office. As an intern in the Communications department, she was responsible for promoting Bayer’s products in Thailand. She became an integral team member in developing communication plans, producing articles and announcements, and organizing events, and was given the opportunity to contribute her own input and creativity.
As a PPE major at AUW, Anshu is grateful for the holistic approach and critical thinking she has developed during her studies. She explains that this preparation set her apart from the other interns at Bayer. “I have definitely noticed a difference between my work and the work of the other interns,” she explains. “For example, when they give presentations, they aren’t as confident. But for me, AUW has taught me how to speak publicly and prepare for important presentations. Now at Bayer, everyone asks for my support with their projects.” Even her minor in Fine Arts has come in use as she adds her aesthetic eye to improving Bayer’s marketing. Due to her excellent performance, Anshu was asked to work on a few supplemental projects, including conducting a social entrepreneurship project in Cambodia and organizing a town hall meeting in Myanmar.
This year, in addition to writing her senior thesis on political philosophy, Anshu will also serve as President of the student body. Though such a position brings many responsibilities, she feels confident that, armed with her communication and organizational skills, she can lead the student body through the academic year. Upon graduation, Anshu plans to apply for a full-time position at Bayer in the management department. She hopes to work there for a couple of years so she can better understand her interests before attending graduate school.
Ugyen Tshomo - National Environment Commission, Bhutan
Ugyen had a busy summer at her internship with the National Environment Commission in Thimphu, Bhutan. She enjoys learning about the environment and development issues, so her one-month stay with the NEC was a stimulating slew of exposure to different programs and policies related to environmental work in Bhutan. According to Ugyen, the most satisfying part of her summer was also her most challenging: helping to organize a three-day workshop, and attending as a participant as well. The workshop was called, “Environmental Mainstreaming, Sustainable Consumption and Production along with Project Proposal Development for the Asia Pacific Network.” It was mainly targeted towards NEC workers, so Ugyen was able to meet more than 40 other NEC employees from different departments. She describes, “I learned how to develop proposal, rubrics, opportunities. Being an organizing of the workshop wand taking care of every activities until the end of the workshop was quite challenging.” In addition to her involvement with the workshop development and implementation, Ugyen worked on a survey on “Matrix for the Assessment of the National Environment Strategy."
Asked about her goals for the current year at AUW, Ugyen immediately replied, “I want to excel in my academics,” mentioning her hope that she will “learn as much as I can about [the] environment.” When she is not busy with classes, Ugyen has fun as a photographer for the Animal Welfare Club. As she nears her final year at AUW, Ugyen says “I would like to apply for my graduate programme in fields related to Environment and Development,” as she is “very passionate to explore these disciplines.”
Ananya Powshi - UNIQLO, Bangladesh and Singapore
Ananya’s internship with UNIQLO helped her realize the potential in nonprofit work. Although previously her interests lay in the corporate world, Ananya says that after seeing the opportunities in a company like UNIQLO that focuses on social business in the Bangladesh context, she is more interested in exploring this sector as well. As part of her marketing work making suggestions to UNIQLO on how to improve their presence in Bangladesh, Ananya enjoyed coming up with ideas for how UNIQLO could empower women. In Bangladesh, UNIQLO partners with Grameen Bank, aiming to help the people of Bangladesh rather than simply profiting from them. Accustomed to discussing societal issues at AUW, Ananya and her team suggested that UNIQLO create a special hiring program targeting women, saying that employing more women would reduce poverty and empower whole families. After visiting Singapore, they also suggested that UNIQLO sell more casual items in Bangladesh, which would give them an edge over competitors who currently focus on traditional items. Ananya admits she did not have marketing or business experience before her internship, but knowing her internship was a limited opportunity, she made use of her time and brought herself quickly up to speed.
One challenge at the internship was working with a team whose different educational and cultural backgrounds gave them varying ideas on marketing and how UNIQLO should improve operations in Bangladesh. The team needed to come together to create their final presentation with recommendations for UNIQLO, and Ananya said that this is where their group work experience from AUW was very useful. Ananya describes that although “not all of us were from Bangladesh, so our thinking background was also different,” at AUW they “did a lot of group work… AUW has made us masters in that.” She also found that “wherever we have gone, because of AUW we are more confident,” saying that “AUW prepares us in a different way” so that they stand out from other students. She was happy to report that other employees or store workers with whom they interacted remembered them personally, not just as interns.
Earlier in the summer, Ananya told us, “I want to make a difference in my community.” Ananya’s UNIQLO internship seems to have inspired her to consider new options and picture a broader horizon for how to make this vision possible. Although she admits she did not know much about social business before this summer, she describes it as “a very hot topic in Bangladesh thanks to Muhammad Yunus,” referring to the Nobel Prize laureate who introduced microcredit loans to the world. Now that she has experience with UNIQLO’s Bangladesh operations, she feels it is important to work for a business that as a deliberate, positive effect on its community.
Xiyan Qin - L’Oréal China
Learning happens during an AUW education not just in the classrooms or at student club meetings, but also during summer internships. This past summer, Xiyan worked with L’Oréal in Shanghai, where she spent half of her internship with the Human Resources department and half with Public Relations. To Xiyan, Public Relations was interesting because it incorporated many different types of work – she describes, “I helped to design online promotion strategy, suggested charity activities, and translated important materials.” Spending a summer in China helped Xiyan realize the alternative perspectives she had absorbed from the AUW environment. She explains, “Many new things that are popular in China were not familiar for me, and people’s living style also changed a lot. The knowledge that we had learned [at AUW] and the way of thinking are different from the students who study in China… One way to overcome this challenge was to communicate more with people and know more about how they think and to express myself.”
Fortunately, Xiyan feels comfortable taking on the challenge of communicating and collaborating with people who have different views from her own. She shares, “Because of AUW, I know different people from different cultures’ backgrounds and learned to accept each other’s different beliefs. I have a much more open mind than before to view different cultures and religions.”
Working with her mentor, Xiyan also analyzed similar companies in order to compare L’Oreal China’s inputs and results in a variety of categories. With Public Relations, Xiyan’s main responsibility was online promotion for an on-campus charity event that L’Oreal China sponsored. The event collaborated with local university students to raise money for students who were less well off. Xiyan also worked on two proposals for how to spend surplus money if the charity ended up bringing in more than predicted. Xiyan describes that when she was adjusting to her internship, her ability to accept new things in a different environment, a skill she acquired at AUW, was important for a comfortable transition.
Now in her senior year, this past fall semester Xiyan and her friends founded Chinese Club in response to student interest in learning Chinese language and culture. Xiyan is the Vice President of the student organization, where she teaches beginning Chinese for about 35 students each week, and designs games for the weekly activity section. The club activities include songs, games, and movies. Xiyan’s experience on this side of the classroom will be helpful to her if she pursues a career in education, which is currently one of her top interests. She shares, “I may work on education after graduation since I believe there are still many problems with education in my hometown.”