Baptiste Laborde-Balen - Marketing Executive
Baptiste is about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in international business from Kedge Business School. Previously a business researcher at Broadgate Financial, he spent a year and a half studying in Japan and Thailand. He is now working as a marketing executive at AIPGlobal.co, where his tasks include marketing channel monitoring and business development.
You recently joined the AIP team. How did you get connected with the organization?
I previously worked for Broadgate Financial in Bangkok, which is one of AIP's partner companies. AIP got in touch with me as they needed a French national with polyvalent marketing skills to expend their partner network to France.
What attracted you to join the field of international education?
During my time at university I remember having only a few internship opportunities in Southeast Asia, despite the fast growing economy of this area, and most of them would not fit my expectations in terms of industry. This is why I was convinced that a large amount of companies in Southeast Asia actually needed and were able to host interns, but would not have the time to set up such a hiring process.
Therefore, I thought AIP was a great idea to match students who are increasingly required by their universities to intern abroad with fast developing business in Southeast Asia. Besides that, although we are not a volunteer organization, I wanted to be useful by promoting multiculturalism and creating connections between societies.
You worked as an English teacher as well as a business researcher prior to assuming your role at AIP. How does your past professional experience help you in your current role?
I had a very interesting experience teaching English in Japan. My students had various backgrounds, such as primary school children, retirees, or engineers from the local chemical company; I even found myself teaching colors to a one-year-old Japanese boy once. It brought me different soft skills that I use everyday at AIP, such as the ability to understand each individual's expectations and then adapt my approach to meet those needs. During my time at Broadgate Financial I have developed research methodologies that helped me a lot researching on our customer behaviors and finding new business partners as well.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
As a marketing executive my main task is to build up a strong brand recognition for AIP in France. I contact French universities and attend meetings on a daily basis to create partnerships with diverse institutions, and constantly research about French students needs and latest trends in terms of internship search. I also put my design and video editing skills into practice from time to time, to create advertisements or enhance our website's look.
How do you help ensure participants can find and successfully complete the perfect internship?
We understand that all participants and companies are different so the “perfect internship” is very different for every individual. The key is to remain flexible in our approach. We keep all communication fluid and open with all parties, so anyone can raise their concerns freely. Before we secure any internship we make sure all parties clearly set their expectations in the initial interview so anyone has the right to decide if they want to proceed further. During the internship period the interns or the companies can let us know when they are experiencing problems, and we act as a mediator and make sure that all issues are resolved in the most efficient and effective manner.
Furthermore, unlike doing an internship in a foreign country by yourself, our program offers opportunities for our interns to interact with each other and also business professionals through networking events that AIP organizes. Interns can not only make new friends, the knowledge and experience that they share is extremely invaluable and can help them to complete the “perfect internship”.
What sets AIP apart from other internship program providers in your opinion?
Our biggest difference is that we always put emphasis on the internship experience first and other things come second. There are tons of travel agencies out there that of course can provide better experiences and rates if you want to ride elephants or visit temples. We consider ourselves as experts in experiential learning, which you can see what we’ve done with our student ecosystem network.
While other programs try to enhance your experience by giving you better sight seeing opportunities, we focus more on how you can develop yourself and use this international work experience that you are getting to secure your future career path in the long run. These include cultural training, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship training, networking opportunities, career consultancy, and more.
Your language skills span from Thai to French. What do you think the value of language fluency is and how does AIP help participants increase their language skills?
I do believe language and culture are inseparable: we cannot be fluent in a language without having an in-depth understanding of its culture, and it is very difficult to really immerse ourselves into a culture if we are not proficient in its language. It is really important to possess this language and cultural knowledge in order to build up strong business relationships with locals, to show them we can be trusted. Interning abroad is the best way to considerably improve your English skills, and generally the local language is also spoken in the workplace so even native English speakers are able to learn a new language.
What is your favorite part about your job?
When working for a start-up company we really appreciate every little step of business development, particularly when it has required a lot of efforts to reach the objective. But receiving positive feedback from our interns is maybe the most rewarding, especially when we get positive reviews on GoAbroad! Regarding my daily tasks, I enjoy creating new designs and producing promotional videos, it allows me to be creative while improving our brand image.
What is one thing every potential participant should know about AIP?
I would say that we are very transparent and efficient with everything that we offer and do. You can see that so far we haven’t had any bad reviews or press about our program that say we are not delivering what we would. For example, we do not promise anything that we cannot guarantee, such as paid internship or placement in certain companies, because at the end of the day, the decision is not ours to make, although it is likely that we can help you get there.
Certainly, there are always some problems that our interns are not happy with, such as accommodation, orientation, or the internship itself. As much as we try to minimize miscommunications, it happens to even the best of us. Therefore, like mentioned earlier, we have to be very flexible and efficient to fix the issues at hand. We are very proud of the level of our customer service. Our interns always come back to us happy and appreciate the extra mile we go for them.
Is there anything new in the works for AIP in 2016? New placement types or locations?
We always look for new opportunities at AIP. In terms of placement types there is very little we can do to make it better as we offer such wide range of industries where all internships are customizable to fit each applicant’s expectations. For locations, we are still focusing on Southeast Asia, especially Thailand. We have high hopes for the country as we are entering into AEC so we can offer internships not just in Bangkok but other major cities as well. With this being said, we are also working on other countries, such as Philippines, Laos, and Myanmar. By 2018 we would like to have fully covered all countries in Southeast Asia.