Intern name: Joseph Harren
Major (s): Philosophy/ Entrepreneurship
Place of internship: MidwestRubber- Asia
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process like?
I found out through email; this internship was organized and partially funded through the Center for Global Education at CSB/SJU. The application process was pretty intense. First thing I did was apply for a loan because I knew if I was accepted I would need funds to pay for my expenses incurred there. The next step I had to take was writing the initial application response which was answering a series of questions gauged at measuring my qualifications for being a good candidate to go to China. After the application we were interviewed by a panel of CSB/SJU Faculty. After getting accepted, our resumes and applications were looked over by various companies. The first company I was selected for did not contact me at all and hired someone else. The second company narrowed their search down between a very close friend and I which made it even more difficult. A few weeks later I was notified of my acceptance and I started preparing for my summer in China!
What were some of the internship highlights?
Working and living in a foreign country overall was just an awesome experience. More specifically, getting business experience in another country was extraordinarily rewarding and beneficial to my future especially given the fact that the business world of tomorrow is going to be so globalized. Another highlight was the experience of being a minority and it was a humbling experience. Learning about Chinese culture and customs revealed a whole new world and system of thinking. Sight-seeing was also a highlight, especially given the long history of China and its ancient relics and structures. The food was a little tough to get used to at first but I grew to appreciate and love the cuisine.
What was a typical day like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
My Internship consisted of a two-phase project; the first was to create a manual or booklet that would be used to give the Original Equipment Manager's the results of tests conducting in the Midwest Rubber R&D Center and the second was creating and conducting rubber squeegee performance tests.
The first part went quite well although it took some time to adjust to the new environment. I learned publisher and using the information and direction of my supervisor Hal Martin a month later I had created a physical copy of a 40 page prototype of a testing manual we would be handing customers. It consisted of different areas of testing as well as the actual tests that would be conducted in each section. The manual was well received and a good start to my internship.
The second phase was performance testing. This proved to be a bit more of a challenge. The company wanted a Research and Development Center and had a space for it, but had yet to conduct any actual performance tests so I had little to go off of other than the good wishes of the company (they were actually very helpful in test design). After about a week of trial and error I had a pretty good structure laid out so with limited time we opted to start testing and hoped to figure out the kinks along the way. For the most part things went really well and I had a wonderful experience working side by side with people from the area. At the end of the summer we made unexpected findings and were able to tell that a better conducted test should prove similar results and show the superiority of our products.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
I faced many challenges through my internship. Communication was perhaps the most difficult part of living in China. It was also very difficult to buy things that I needed. There were no hardware stores and the limited internet was in Chinese so it took a great deal of savvy to find and acquire the things I needed to do my job. Being a minority was also a challenge; I was and felt out of place. The people were wonderfully kind and easy to work with, my experience still made me aware of the difficulty of being the only person in a group who shares your values and ideas.
What did you learn?
A great deal! The most interesting thing I learned was about Chinese Government which consists of their "closed" economy which I found brilliant. I also learned a lot about the politics of the country and how there possibly could soon be an upcoming change of power.
Business wise, the most interesting thing I learned was about the loss my company took from selling a large quantity of product to Europe during its rapid money decline. The company would make a sale but it would take forty days to ship and then another forty days to complete the money transaction so by then the company had lost twenty five per cent of potential profits due to the decline in the Euro's value this past spring. This idea totally blew my mind and opened it up to a new realm of international business issues.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
Get after it! It was the opportunity of my life, I got after it and it became the experience of my life!