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Student travels to the Philippines for an international internship

 Photo by Tina Wallace

This school year, Hang Tran met people from all over the world and gained hands-on experience working in a field she hopes to make into a career.

AIESEC is a non-profit student-run organization found in more than 144 countries around the world. The program sends undergraduate and graduate students abroad, immersing them in a culturally rich work environment that can not only aid in the development of their leadership and work skills, but also in nurturing a more global mindset.

Tran, a fourth-year international student from Vietnam, is studying marketing at the Telfer School of Management. She recently came back from her internship with Gkonomics, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Manila, Philippines.

She joined AIESEC in her first year. Although she wanted to participate in an international internship from the beginning, she said it wasn’t until this year that she “just decided it was time for me to go.”

Gkonomics helps people find jobs by connecting them with social entrepreneurs, while also helping the social entrepreneurs gain access to the human resources and human power they need to provide stable income and employment.

Tran was in charge of designing, writing for, and editing the newsletter for Gkonomics stakeholders. She also collaborated with a Taiwanese intern at the NGO to help increase income for workers at a shoe factory.

“It was a very eye-opening experience,” Tran said. “I got to see first-hand their living conditions and how the NGO could make its impact.”

The experience showed her the ways a business can make changes to help the environment and help create a stable income for people who live in poverty.

Before going overseas, like many students about to graduate, her career goals were somewhat vague and uncertain. It was through the people she met, the places she visited, and being able to see the impact of her work first-hand that set her on a clearer path to her future.

“Through this internship I learned to take risks and I learned to go out of my comfort zone,” she said.

Living in the Philippines also gave her a different perspective on the culture of the society she lives in.

“The sense of community in the Philippines is really strong,” she said. “A lot stronger when compared to here. When you go there, there’s always an event and everyone gets involved. It’s a very collectivist society.”

Jocelyn Marie Lubczuk, who is charge of public and media relations for the AIESEC chapter at the University of Ottawa, stresses the role AIESEC  can play in informing and connecting with students seeking work experience and exchange opportunities.

“It’s a global mindset that people in AIESEC have,” said Lubczuk. “It’s like you look at the job, you look at the skills, and it doesn’t really matter where in the world it is because you’re going to get an experience regardless.”


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