What It’s Like to Do a Business Placement Overseas

Ever wondered what it would be like to go abroad as a student and work on a business issue for a client? Three students share their experiences completing a business placement overseas.

When Kimberly Nguyen arrived in India a misconception she held about the country was quickly abolished.

“Before I left for India, I changed all my money into Indian rupees,” she says. “But very quickly I realised most locals pay for items with their phones. My image of an emerging economy like India is that they would be way behind us, but they are not at all.”

This was just one of the surprises that Kimberly experienced during her three-week placement for the Global Business Practicum.

“I was based in Mumbai with an alternative lending start-up and it really taught me to be flexible,” she says. “Mumbai is pretty hectic and things don’t necessarily go to plan. There may be rain or traffic or other things that impact your plans. I learnt to embrace the chaos and make the most of opportunities. For example, if we were stuck in traffic, I’d use that time to do some work.

"I was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I learnt so much in such a small amount of time."

I was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I learnt so much in such a small amount of time.

​Kimberly Nguyen

Seeing business problems in a new way

Suhaniya Chelliah also undertook her practicum in India, but was placed with a group of three other students at a local UNSW office to work on their local strategy.

For Suhaniya, access to master classes held by local industry leaders, government officials and academic experts he

lped her understand India’s complex business system, and gave her the opportunity to contribute to Australian-Asian relations.

“We met so many different people,” she says. “University professors spoke to us about India’s business context and they were so inspiring, passionate and dedicated.”

She also talks of the networks she made “I developed amazing connections with the people we met. Now I have an Indian network.”

A shift in perspective

For Charles Huang, his placement in Bangkok, at a startup supporting medical tourism, accelerated his career readiness and future goals.

“I learnt how to sensitively deal with internal and external stakeholders,” he says. “I can now navigate and diffuse challenging situations, and that’s crucial if you’re going to have a successful career in business.”

The experience has opened up opportunities for Charles.

“Going and working in a different country broadens your horizons and perspective,” he says. “I was working with locals and people from different countries, but everyone was working towards the same goal. This experience has really made me want to travel and work in other countries, and it has given me the platform to do so.”Working cross-culturally also meant that Charles gained an insight into how to build relationships with clients.

“I now go into meetings and immediately try to understand who my audience is and where they are coming from,” he says. “It helps to build rapport and trust before you go into business discussions. I learnt that from my time in Thailand – you have to establish relationships first.”

Suhaniya-Chelliah.

I developed amazing connections with the people we met. Now I have an Indian network.

Suhaniya Chelliah

 

Networking opportunities

Since returning from India, and as a direct result of undertaking the practicum, Kimberly has been invited to a number of UNSW events, where she has made connections with influential people.

“I went to a dinner attended by Julie Bishop and John Howard,” she says. “I also recently met the Premier of New South Wales. It’s all because of doing this practicum. I’ve realised how far I’ve come, and the power of the networks I’m creating.”

On top of everything, Kimberly, Charles and Suhaniya all speak of the friendships and bonds they developed during the practicum as one of the highlights of their experience.

“These will be life-long friendships with people from across the globe,” says Charles. “Not only are they great friends now, but they will also be an incredible network to call upon throughout my career.”