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Internship Goes International

Simon Foster '10By the time they graduate, about one-third of Albright students complete an internship with a sponsoring company or nonprofit organization.

While many students stay fairly close to campus or their hometowns, some, like Simon Foster ’10, choose to immerse themselves in a different culture while learning more about their intended profession. Foster is a junior majoring in marketing and French. Originally from Adelaide, Australia, Foster and his family moved to the United States in 2001, when he was 13.

At the end of the spring ’08 semester, Foster headed to Singapore to spend his summer as an intern with MindShare, an agency that buys and sells media for advertising.

The Reporter asked Foster a few questions about his experience.

Q: What attracted you to Singapore?
I really wanted to do something international, and I knew that Professor Rajan [Jayanthi Rajan, M.B.A., business and economics] had international connections. Her sister is a managing partner for MindShare in Singapore. So Professor Rajan helped me get my foot in the door and get my resume to the right people.

Q: What role did Albright College play in setting up the internship?
I had been talking to Professor Rajan, my marketing professor, who I would describe as a mentor to me. We discussed internships, and it sounded like it would be a really good experience. I could have taken it for credit but decided to take it just for the experience.

Q: What was the focus of your internship?
I would get a briefing on a scenario or a situation on a company we were working with. Then I’d do background research on projects we were doing. I used a lot of secondary sources along with my primary sources; I was doing in-depth interviews and focus groups and that sort of thing. I called myself the master Googler, because I was always Googling all sorts of things to add to the information we needed, whether it was for a pitch or a project.

Singapore CityQ: How involved were you with the day-to-day business of the agency?
I got the overall perspective of the entire agency, because I worked on a lot of different things. They were really good about including me in things that really mattered to the company. I worked on a project on music as my internship project. I saw it through the whole process. I got the brief, then did the research, then did the presentation, then drew the conclusions.

Q: What’s one of the key lessons you learned?
My professors at Albright say that research is very important, and that it’s good to have as much information available as possible. This internship showed me how much companies rely on information to do different things and the value of that information. That was confirmation of what I’ve been told in school.

Q: What were your impressions of Singapore?
It’s beautiful, one of the best-smelling cities I’ve been to. They do a lot to keep it green and natural, and it’s really clean. And I was surprised at how Western it was. It was sort of a cleaner version of New York City with an Asian feel. The fact that it’s one of the most Western cities in Asia made it really easy for me to transition. It was owned by Britain until 1965, and it’s so British that they still do tea time. It reminded me a lot of Australia.

Q: Did you get to see much of the city?
I got to see as many different places as I could. But it wasn’t like I was on vacation. I had to balance the working time with the leisure and down time.

Q: Did you have any trouble communicating?
Malay is their official language, but English is their administrative language. So everyone speaks English.

Q: How will this experience help you after graduation?
I’d like to go into the field, whether it’s advertising or marketing or creative. But you never know, so I’m keeping my eyes and my options open. The fact that I did an internship with a leading media agency will help on the business side. On another level, it gave me more confidence and made me more independent. So, while I gained a lot of experience in the field, I also gained a lot of experience personally.

Q: What advice do you have for a student who’s considering doing an internship overseas?
A lot of people I’ve talked to said they’d be too scared or wouldn’t be ready to pick up and go overseas to do an internship. I tell them to have an open mind and jump in with both feet. I went to a country I’d never been to before and lived there for three months and made lasting friendships with many people that I still talk to. It’s an experience I think everyone should have.

If your business or nonprofit organization offers internship opportunities suitable for Albright students, please contact the Career Development Center at 610-921-7630.

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