Iida Liukkonen - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you decide to intern abroad?
I made the decision to apply abroad when I started to feel stuck in Finland. Always seeing the same things and repeating your routines can only get you so far. I felt like I really wanted to shake things up and that's how I came up with going abroad. Before I had travelled around, but I had never lived anywhere for a longer period.
Why did you choose Asia Internship Programme (AIP)?
After I got the urge to go abroad I started to look for different options. I wanted this time abroad to boost my studies and career development, so I started to search for a possibility to go to intern in Asia. Asia is a quickly growing and really important economic region. However, it's not easy to get a job there. I didn't have any connections there and getting a visa on your own can be tricky. That's when I found AIP, a great organization that helps you to look for a job and apply for the visa.
What was your favorite part about Bangkok?
Bangkok is a really colorful and lively city! I loved it. Bangkok is a mix of traditional Asian culture and international influence. There are a lot of places to explore in and outside of Bangkok, but it's also the perfect place to just chill and enjoy the food and the nightlife.
What makes AIP unique?
AIP offers tailored internships. This means that in the beginning of your application process AIP interviews you about your expectations and wishes regarding the internship. Then based on the interview they will look for a suitable company for you.
It's great how well they take into consideration the intern's expectations instead of just listening to the companies.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Everyone was really welcoming when I arrived in Bangkok. I didn't really know anything about Bangkok before I got there. My colleagues told me about the Thai culture and taught me few useful words in Thai. They also showed me nice places in Bangkok and told me how to get around, which really helped me to adopt in the new culture and my new home. I also had a contact person at AIP, who was also really friendly and helpful. He helped me out with things around my apartment, getting a local sim-card, etc.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I might have considered a longer internship than just three months. The time went by so fast! When it comes to the job I felt like many things were left unfinished. I also loved Bangkok, but if I had had more time there I would have liked to travel around a bit more. It's so easy and cheap to go from Bangkok to explore Thailand and Asia!
Describe a day in the life of your internship.
Actually what I liked about my internship was the fact that my days varied quite a bit. Sometimes I went to the office to work on the market survey and sometimes I went with my colleagues to meet with clients, attended networking events, or went to markets, etc. Instead of fixed working hours, I was given different tasks, which I could schedule and complete on my own.
What did you enjoy doing on your free time?
There are so many great things you can do in Bangkok! It's hard to name just one, but I have to say that I really loved the food. In Finland people don't tend to go out to eat so much, so Bangkok was like a food heaven for me! You can get anything from the local street food to fancy restaurants. Bangkok is a perfect place to go out, chill with your friends, and enjoy great cheap food and drinks.
What type of accommodation did you have?
AIP arranged the accommodation for me. This partially made it easy for me to arrive in Bangkok, because everything was taken care of in advance. I lived in a studio close to my office, so it was nice and convenient.
What surprised you most about Thailand?
I was surprised by how little the local people in Thailand spoke English. I thought that in such a big city people would speak English, but after my arrival, I soon realized that it was mostly the expat community that spoke English. For others heading to Thailand, I would recommend learning some basic vocabulary (greetings, numbers, and food vocabulary). I learned some useful phrases while being there, so I was then able to order food and speak with taxi drivers at least But even if you don't speak the language (like me), you can always manage with gestures and body language! The people in Bangkok are really friendly and helpful, so don't let the fear of a language barrier hinder you from applying.
Now that you're home, how has your internship abroad impacted your life?
Working and living in a different culture gave me more confidence and a sense of independence. I'm more at ease with not always knowing what's coming next. In Bangkok I ran into some surprises, but every time things sorted out. The Thai culture also taught me to be more calm and discreet, and of course this experience left me with a spark to keep on exploring the world!
Would you recommend Asia Internship Programme to others?
I recommend AIP to anyone interested in the Asian market! You get valuable international experience and AIP really listens and helps you to find the kind of internship that interests you. I had so much fun living in Bangkok, so I do recommend it without a doubt!