Blog & Events

My Internship Abroad

October 3, 2013

By Nicole Chorba – 2nd year Mechanical Engineering

Headshot of Nicole ChorbaI knew I wanted this summer to be memorable. College is the last time we can have a 3 month summer vacation, so why not take full advantage of it? On the UT study abroad website, I came across the BE Global program which places engineering and business students in either Barcelona, Spain or Shanghai, China to do a 6 or 10 week internship. It's killing two birds with one stone: an internship and experience abroad!

I went to Shanghai for 6 weeks and worked for a start-up LED company as a Research and Development Engineering Intern. I worked on 2 projects with a fellow intern from UT including emergency LED lighting for an Australian client and supplemental LED grow lights for a greenhouse in Canada. This internship allowed me to have a taste of what working as an engineer and working internationally are like.

When I wasn't working, I was site-seeing, shopping, eating (a lot), and travelling around the city and more of China. There were 29 UT students in Shanghai, and we instantly clung to each other for support. Most of us planned things together whether we were in one big group (e.g. KTV or karaoke night) or in smaller groups (e.g. heading out for dinner after work). Sometimes, it was hard getting around with the language barrier, but we figured out the tricks (pointing and charades) and learned a few key words in Mandarin.

It probably sounds like I was on vacation for 6 weeks, and most of the time that's how I felt (not complaining), but I also learned a lot. I could try to explain for pages and pages how Chinese business culture is so different from American or how the "personal bubble" doesn't exist in China. All of this is important, for there is an exponentially growing global economy, and we need to understand that other cultures have different values and habits. But, I can't teach this to you. No one can. You have to experience it for yourself and gain priceless knowledge as well as skills that are beneficial for employment and jobs.