Tag Archives: Business

Taylor Hamilton Sees Another Kind of Business Culture

Taylor is a current student in Maxwell’s joint MPA/MAIR program, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program this past summer.

Even before learning of the university-sponsored internship program, I had always been intrigued with Singapore, for a few reasons. One reason is that I have dedicated my academic life to studying the cultures and economics of East Asia. Another aspect I found interesting was its political system. Though small, Singapore is the world’s most successful modern autocracy (although it is often referred to as an “illiberal democracy”). I found it a refreshing example in the face of the pro-democracy perspective touted in American academia. Moreover, if I wanted to live and work in Singapore, I could do so without learning another language (Americans. Amirite?).

Taylor Hamilton.

While in Singapore I worked for the Stewardship Asia Centre, a small non-profit endowed by Temasek Holdings. The small office afforded me a hands-on role with many of the projects the office had undertaken to promote corporate stewardship in East Asia and the Pacific. My writing and web development skills improved dramatically due to the nature of the content creation work I was assigned. I was regularly assigned research, which I would then have to present to one big-shot or another. However, these experiences were surprisingly secondary to the perspectives I was exposed to during my 10-week stay.

Singapore from above.

I must firstly admit that I initially held the unconscious assumption that since business was conducted in English my work environment in Singapore was going to be similar to that of the U.S. My normative assumptions went unchallenged for a couple weeks before I began to understand Singaporean office culture. The company hierarchy was built on the foundation that age and experience were necessary for effective leadership, with emphasis on the former. Due to the company’s relationship with the government, much consideration went into how influential people would be affected by our office’s actions (Did I mention that Temasek was led by the Prime Minister’s wife?). Furthermore, the way in which work was decided or problems were solved usually began with informal meetings among top management. In Western societies, we tend to frown upon CEOs having “backroom” dealings but my coworkers here have referred to these practices as the “Asian way” (their words not mine). I found out they were specifically referring to methods that were subtle and collaborative, rather than demanding and immodest.

Yet, even among these macro-level dynamics, my office easily demonstrated how the work performed by other interns and myself helps achieve the long-term goals of corporate stewardship promotion. I will forever appreciate the efforts of my supervisors in allowing me to see numerous projects from start to finish, providing me with more practical lessons in a few weeks than I have been afforded in some whole semesters.

Singapore’s Chinatown.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

More Global Programs

Alex Macdonald Gains International Business Experience in Singapore

Alex is currently completing his joint MAIR/MAECN, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Arts in Economics. His internship was completed as part of the Singapore Summer Internship Program.

When we discuss the pivot to Asia in international relations, we usually refer to a realignment of US foreign policy. However, over the past twenty years, unprecedented Asian economic growth has led the whole global economy to pivot to Asia. While China usually takes the spotlight, the so-called “Asian Tiger” countries have played an essential role in this transformation. Exemplary of these countries is Singapore, which in the past fifty years has gone from being a minor colonial trading post to becoming one of the world’s most important ports and a major global financial hub.

Alex with some of his Pratt and Whitney co-workers at the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar.

This summer I had the opportunity, through S.U. Abroad’s Singapore program, to immerse myself in the vibrant business culture of this incredible country. I spent the summer as a finance and management intern at Pratt and Whitney, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military and commercial airplane engines. In my role, I was given a variety projects on which to work ranging from regular finance-related tasks, such as maintaining the monthly profit and loss report, to process improvement projects aimed at streamlining production, purchasing, and shipping to deal with the large amount of growth the company is experiencing.

In addition to the many finance and management related skills which I was able to further develop in my role, the opportunity to finally work in a region of the world which I had studied academically for so long was invaluable. As someone who hopes to work internationally in the private sector, this internship exposed me to a very different business culture from what I was used to and has given me a solid experiential foundation for my future in the international business world.

While I was in Singapore, I was also lucky enough to be able to take advantage of its proximity to the rest of South-East Asia and was able to do some traveling in my time off from work. Overall, I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to work in Singapore this summer. It was an amazing experience and has reaffirmed my interest in working in Asia as well as sparking an even deeper interest in South-East Asia in particular.

Alex at Singapore’s famous Gardens by the Bay.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

More Global Programs

Emily Ma Finds Taiwan Unforgettable While at Foreign Commercial Service

Emily Ma wrote this post while interning in Taiwan during the fall of 2016. She also interned at United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) during the summer of 2016, where she was posted in Turkey for a time. After graduating with her MAIR degree, she landed a job at USCIS.

Emily Ma (3rd from left) with AIT Director, Kin Moy (4th from left) and other interns

This fall, I was able to travel to Taipei, Taiwan to intern for the American Institute in Taiwan, Commercial Section. The American Institute in Taiwan is the de-facto embassy for the United States in Taiwan, created under the Taiwan Relations Act after the United States acknowledged China’s “One-China Policy.” The functioning of AIT is no different than a typical American Embassy other than the fact that the titles of the officers are slightly different. For example, the “ambassador” is called the “director” of the Institute.

The Commercial Section is run under the Commerce Department rather than the State Department, meaning that in our lobby, we have framed pictures of President Obama and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker rather than Secretary of State John Kerry. The purpose of the Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) is to provide assistance to U.S. Firms hoping to export abroad, or foreign entities looking to invest into the United States. Although there are other groups such as the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Economics section of the State Department, The FCS provides assistance to individual companies for a minimal fee. The fee is simply to allow the Commercial Section, an entity representing the U.S. government, to assist one individual company without providing assistance to all other U.S. companies (although it is available once the basic fee is paid).

As an intern, I have been able to attend meetings with both U.S. and Taiwan representatives of the public and private sector. I have assisted with several trade shows in which American companies have taken part in, and have done thorough research on the burgeoning activity in the area of smart city technology.

Taiwan itself is a beautiful island with friendly locals. Commercially, it is the gateway to Asia. Amidst the fierce competition, as firms try to enter China, many overlook Taiwan. Developed, and with close ties to China, Taiwan businesses are eager to diversify their portfolio, and are always looking for something new.

Whether it is for tourism, or business, Taiwan is definitely not a place to forget.

Global Programs in China:

SU Beijing

Summer Internships in Shanghai

Joshua Klein Contributes to ASEAN Business Outlook at AmCham Singapore

Joshua Klein graduated from the MAIR program with a focus on East Asia. He participated in the Singapore Summer Practicum during the summer of 2015 and took advantage of the SU Beijing Center where he took courses at Tsinghua University during the fall of 2015.

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

This summer, I accepted an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. I worked for three months as a “Government Relations Intern,” for the Public Affairs and Government Relations team.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) is the leading international business association in Singapore, with over 5,000 members representing 750 companies. American companies’ direct investment in Singapore exceeds and estimated US $180 billion.

The Government Affairs team represents member companies at the highest level of government in Singapore and Washington D.C. AmCham played a significant role in the development of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and meets regularly with senior members of the Singapore Government to represent the interests of member corporations. In addition, the American Chamber of Commerce presents weekly lectures that continue to educate member companies about new business developments occurring in Singapore and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

As a Government Relations intern, my main task was to draft and analyze data for AmCham’s annual publication, the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS). This publication shares the insights of senior American business leaders across the ASEAN region. These respondents are charged with making investment decisions on behalf of their companies, offering a unique opportunity to shape the character of development across ASEAN.

My supervisor was very helpful in assisting in the meeting of member company executives and providing me with opportunities to attend many of the events AmCham hosts. Through these opportunities, I was able to network and expand my contact base in Southeast Asia. In addition, I was able to interact with other staff members in the office who were all great and welcoming. They taught me everything from scratch, always answered my questions in detail, and shared their career stories and working experiences generously.

I really appreciate this internship experience. It exposed the American business sentiment in ASEAN while providing me with the freedom to contribute to the annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey publication.

Students interested in an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore should contact Gary LaPoint at gelapoin@syr.edu. He is a Professor of Supply Chain Practice in the Whitman School of Management and Head of the Singapore Summer Practicum. AmCham Singapore is interested in Maxwell interns annually.

Joshua Klein in front of AmCham Singapore logo

Maxwell students Joshua Klein and Gabriela Luciano at AmCham Singapore

Read the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2016>>

Julianne Dunn, “learning what you don’t want is even more important than learning what you do want”

Julianne Dunn working at the U.S. Embassy booth for the USAFair at Central World in Bangkok, Thailand

Julianne Dunn working at the U.S. Embassy booth for the USAFair at Central World in Bangkok, Thailand

As a joint MAIR/ECON student, Julianne Dunn continues to learn about U.S. economic interests in the world while interning at the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.

If you’re anything like I was, you might be trudging through your first year at Maxwell with a vague idea of the topics you’re interested in and might want to work on. When someone asked me what I was planning to do after graduation, I answered something along the lines of “I want to work on international trade policy in Southeast Asia.” I had very little idea what that actually meant, who I might be working for, or what I might actually do all day for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time hoping no one asked. After taking on a summer internship and independent research project in Bangkok, Thailand, I not only have a clear idea of the career I want to pursue, but I even learned some skills that are helping me get there.

Through an internship at the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) office, I was able to see what working in international trade actually looked like. With offices at embassies around the world, FCS seeks to represent U.S. business interests abroad. This includes helping small businesses export to new markets, and conducting “commercial diplomacy” to ease regulations and facilitate trade for U.S. companies. Through preparing briefs on particular market segments in Thailand for U.S. businesses wishing to export, compiling and editing the annual Country Commercial Guide, and researching and writing a proposal to open a new FCS office in Cambodia, I learned about the challenges facing U.S. companies while honing my professional research and communication skills. In addition, I worked with many of the local staff members to promote U.S. products and companies on social media. At embassy events, including receptions at the Ambassador’s residence, I was able to network with embassy staff, Foreign Service officers, and American and Thai business people. These interactions allowed me to better understand what living and doing business in Southeast Asia was really like.

The local staff and other American and Thai interns turned a good professional experience into a great personally fulfilling one. Through everyday interactions I learned about working with people in a different culture and how to adjust my communication away from the forward, often abrupt style that we use in the U.S. But my coworkers also became fast friends who taught me about their food, culture, and language. We took weekend trips together and exchanged cultural anecdotes. These interactions were fun, but also helped me along my path toward becoming a global citizen.

While I was in Thailand I also had the opportunity to work on an independent research project studying foreign direct investment in Cambodia, something that had just piqued my interest in my spring coursework at Maxwell. Working on the proposal for FCS allowed me to gain new perspectives and allowed me to connect with people who are working with foreign direct investors in Cambodia. I was even able to meet with some of these people in person during a trip to Phnom Penh. These experiences shifted my professional focus and helped me to redefine the direction I’d like to go after graduation.

There’s a huge pressure to intern somewhere you know you want to work after graduation. After all, internships often turn into jobs, right? But what if you don’t really know where you want to work after graduation? I certainly didn’t, but starting an internship in the region and field I was interested in couldn’t have been more helpful in setting me on the path toward my future. Ultimately, I’ve decided that working for the U.S. government on international trade policy isn’t for me. But sometimes learning what you don’t want is even more important than learning what you do want. Along the way, you might even pick up some new friends, professional contacts, and skills. The only way to find out is to jump right in.

Julianne-Dunn(2nd left)and coworkers in Ayutthaya Thailand

Julianne Dunn (2nd left) with coworkers & fellow interns in Ayutthaya, Thailand