Saint John's senior Tyler Brakner traveled to India in the spring of 2013 with CSB/SJU students for a study abroad program. This past summer, however, the Global Business Leadership and Asian studies double-major embarked again on this journey-this time alone.
Brakner worked in Kolkata, West Bengal as an intern for a non-governmental organization called Reach India.
"Reach provides women from lesser economic backgrounds with self-help solutions through education on basic personal hygiene, financial education, reproductive health topics, while also providing them with business connections," Brakner said.
According to Brakner, Reach helps empower women to be financial contributors in their households by giving them a smart financial savings plan. "These educational offerings are not only important for the conceptual knowledge that these women were able to gain from the curriculum, but also the gender empowerment that occurred through them," Brakner said.
While working in the corporate offices, Brakner was responsible for developing Reach's strategic business plan for the next five years of operation. He also created the content for their 2013-14 annual report, which is used to report the progress that Reach conducts and gain funding from many foundations around the globe.
"The most interesting thing about this internship was that I never had the exact same day," Brakner said. "Each day was full of new tasks and ideas that were thrown at me which made for a very fun and rewarding experience."
Brakner was the first CSB/SJU student to have participated in a summer internship with the company. He says that this experience has taught him to appreciate how an office outside of the United States operates.
"I've been able to relate this experience to my Global Business Leadership curriculum," Brakner said. "It has allowed me to connect the dots between the classroom and a practical application of these skills in communication, financial calculations and projections, and the effective application of computer programs."
Brakner says the classroom skills he learned at CSB/SJU were very useful during his experience. "I had to resort to course curriculum that gave me a foundation to work off of in order to problem solve and relate to this group of people."