Ms. Mo Nguyen– the Director of ABROADER, was invited as the guest speaker at the US embassy to share her experience on how to make the volunteer/internship abroad time in Vietnam successful for international students. Many use cases and real stories were shared with the local hosts. Mo started with the story of a student who got an internship at a well-known multinational company, which was the dream of many students, but finally got dissatisfied with it. What happened to him?
1. Expectation match
The intern expected to have an internship abroad where he could learn and work with local people, in a totally different working environment, not in the same one as his country’s office. However, the host company just needed someone who could understand their “routine”. In this case, the expectation mismatch is exactly what killed the meaningful internship abroad. Therefore, expectation match is very important for both the local host company and the international intern. They should know what they expect from each other in order to understand each other’s values and explore ways to add values to each other.
2. Open and cultural respect
One teacher in a Vietnamese high school was so embarrassed when the international intern pointed out her mistake in front of her students. Being OPEN is very important to both the localhost and the international intern. In Vietnam, people normally tell you your faults privately, not in front of others, especially at school where teachers are the mirror for students and are supposed to be right. It is necessary to talk about the sensitivity of criticizing a person in public, because it may be normal in the intern’s home country, but can be a disaster in the host country. In particular, you must think twice before posting photos or comments on social media, because it can unintentionally hurt some locals or distort the truth that you may not understand well.
3. Single contact
At each localhost, one specific person should be in charge of being the FIRST contact for international interns. It helps a lot to make the interns feel safe and consistent. When there are any changes, it is always that single contact who informs the student timely. For example, if the class is closed today because they need to welcome a special VIP, the international intern would expect a sudden notice in advance before the class starts with a clear reason.
4. Emergency Response
While taking an internship in Vietnam, most students want to take a holiday, or a tour of the country, or the neighboring country. They can travel with other interns or with their family and friends, but remember, the intern’s safety is very important to the localhost. The internship abroad should be both enjoyable and secure. So both the host and the intern must talk openly about the intern’s travel plans. They should make it clear about the journey with time and date, about who the intern will travel with, and the contact information of the person (s) he goes with. The intern should give the host contact to his/her accompanier too. This action helps the local host get updates from the intern even when they cannot contact the intern directly. Or in return, the accompanier can contact the host for the intern in case (s)he cannot be contacted.
So the intern should and should be reminded to bring the First contact’s information with her/him as the “RED CARD.”