Want an advantage over other job applicants? Want to work in a new environment on a team that can bring a fresh set of perspectives?Want to visit new places, make new friends and learn new skills before you graduate?
Global summer internships give Raymond J. Harbert College of Business students these opportunities. Applications are currently being accepted for internships for summer 2014 in China (May 10-June 21), Dublin (June 23-Aug. 9), and London (June 8-Aug. 2). The programs are open to juniors and seniors of all business majors and minors with an ungapped GPA of 2.5 or higher.
“Working abroad gives students a real advantage from a (job) recruiting standpoint,” said Dan Padgett, who directs Harbert College’s Global Internships Programs in China, London and Dublin. “It gives them experience to do business in a real setting that they don’t have in the classroom. International internships are also a step above because of the added cultural issues. That’s a real valuable experience.”
Padgett, an associate professor in marketing, said when students approach recruiters at job fairs, international experience “gets their attention.”
“It’s totally different to have worked in another country,” he said. “The students are literally working on an international team. It’s truly an international experience.”
What can students expect?
“These are real work internships, not handing out flyers at the stadium or fetching coffee for the office,” Padgett noted. “The companies vary. It is a good mix of large and small employers in a variety of industries. In consultation with the director and other faculty advisors, our partners fit students to an appropriate internship taking into consideration the student’s major, background, course work, skill sets, and other interests. Our partners have extensive company relationships and experience placing interns, and last year placed over 1,200 interns in international locations.”
Padgett said stops in Dublin and London are nothing new for Auburn. But the internship program in China has happened for only three years.
This summer, 17 Harbert students performed feasibility studies on safety processes for Chevron, the acceptance of electric vehicles for General Motors and even studied how Carlsberg Beer can compete with a giant in the Western China marketplace.
Why Western China?
“International corporations are making a push into west China, particularly Chengdu,” Padgett said. “Chengdu has a population in excess of 14 million. Chengdu is a major Apple products manufacturing hub, and there are 233 Fortune 500 companies located here. It’s growing faster than Shanghai and Beijing. Every time I go there I see new buildings. It’s the Wild West of China.”
The group spent four days in Shanghai, four weeks in Chengdu, and the final four days in Beijing. Making this trip from Harbert College included Brandon Smith, Callie Johnson, Cassandra Brand, Catherine Eubanks, Christopher Campbell, Colton Bowers, Elizabeth Warren, Ellen Barner, Frederick Berlanti, Garrett Altier, Jacqueline Popper, John LaPenta, Mieke Groothuizen, Nathaniel Kidd, Ralph Reed, Sam Holt, and Thomas Moss.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gave me exposure to both a foreign culture and the international side of the professional world,” said LaPenta, a senior in marketing from Charlotte, N.C. “My internship taught me a lot of useful information about the energy sector and gave me firsthand experience working on a team, and seeing a project through start to finish. I gained an incredible amount of connections and friends along the way, all of whom I have been staying in touch with since I returned back to the states.”
Padgett said interns worked on specific projects for companies and were divided into teams: three to four Auburn students teamed with one to two Chinese students, with each group led by an MBA student.
Some researched whether LegoLand would be a feasible investment in Western China. Other students were asked how to commercialize a “kid-friendly” mall; perform a market description of the beer industry in China and devise strategy options for Carlsberg as it takes on industry leader Snow; plan how to better market Scandinavia as a potential vacation destination for Chinese residents; and study the potential models for addressing the needs of older consumers based on real a estate development called “City of Golden Ages.”
Ralph Reed, a senior in accounting and finance from Atlanta, thanked Golden Ages lead investor Dr. Per Jenster in a personal letter made available to Harbert College.
“I really learned a lot — not only about the proper way to present a case, using the storyboard method, but about the challenges associated with operating in the real world,” Reed wrote. “Case studies are great, but they do not teach you the challenges of collecting the information.
“I also have developed much as an individual. I have never grown so much, in so little time, as I have being in China. Things operate in a completely different manner here. This is extremely frustrating at times, but after a few weeks one can learn to handle the differences.”
Padgett encouraged students to consider learning to work internationally, noting that “business is global.”
“China and India combined account for 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product,” Padgett said. “This could double by 2025. This means our students have to understand different cultures, particularly business cultures.”
Aside from guaranteed placement within a professional international environment, students also have the opportunity to earn credits in Principles of Marketing (three hours), International Marketing (three hours), Consumer Behavior (three hours), Promotion Strategy (three hours), and Financial Markets and Institutions (three hours).
For further information about China, Dublin, London and the Global Internship Program, please contact Dan Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 844-2462. Each location is limited to 20 students.