Ken Jayaphorn - Operations Director
Ken was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, though he is also part German. He has a bachelors degree in economics and worked for Bangkok Bank before entering the field of international education. As operations director for Asia Internship Programme, Ken has responsibilities that span business development, finance, human resources, and customer service. Outside of work, Ken is the director of the board for the Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce.
How were you first introduced to Asia Internship Programme?
Asia Internship Programme (AIP) was my business partner's (Simon Osborne) idea during the time we worked together in our previous company. In 2011, Simon started an internal internship programme within the company.
We didn’t expect much from it, but it had grown larger and more reputable than what we’ve expected. We had people doing internships with us from all over the world. We were curious why they wanted to come to Bangkok and what were the problems that they faced. It turned out that most of our interns applied to over 20 companies in Bangkok, and we were one of the very few companies, if not the only, who cared enough to respond. They also told us about the hardships of working in a foreign country, where they had no idea where to go or stay and who to connect with. They all expressed great appreciation with how we helped them integrate into the community in Bangkok, which led us to creating AIP.
You've worked with the organization for a few years now, how has your role evolved over time?
I would say that my role has not changed that much throughout the years. Mostly because job titles in AIP do not completely define what we do. Anyone of us will do what it takes to reach our objectives with a common mission of "advancing student development." Of course there are standard roles and responsibilities, but I would say that it keeps us occupied for less than 50 percent of our time. The other 50 percent is put towards innovation and improving the workflow.
What is a typical day of work like for you?
As operations director, I oversee many areas, from finance, administration, and business development to customer service. I interview most of our applicants and have continuous direct contact with them. If you are applying with AIP, you can definitely expect to be working with me at some point in the process. I also take our interns in Bangkok to professional networking functions and make sure that they learn how to interact with others in a business environment.
Since interning in Thailand is still very much developing, you are often creating these internship positions in companies that have never had a Western mind working in their midst. How do you prepare interns and companies for this environment?
First, we do a lot with the resume and experience of the applicants. We help them change their CV or resume to a new format and use language that fits the position and company. Many of the larger organizations don’t have too much of a language barrier, which is very helpful, but the internship market is not that big. If they have an internship it is making copies and coffee. It is good to have someone to help establish and share the idea of internships.
We found out that a lot of people wanted to come to Thailand and more and more applications that were very qualified, but since it’s not established we decided we needed to help them. The company is very new, just over a year now. The company is growing fast, but slowed down with the political situation especially since it was in the summer. We had a lot of applicants back out.
How can an intern help you make sure their internship is successful?
It is important to have an idea of what you want to do. The more information the better for us. It helps us find the internship that they are looking for and make sure it is a good fit.
Why should someone intern in Thailand over another country?
International experience in such an emerging market. Since so many of these companies are growing so fast in Thailand, it is very impressive to have experience with these companies on your resume.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The best part of my job is the satisfaction of helping an applicant secure his or her internship. It is very fulfilling when they come back to me and say that I’ve made a huge difference in their career prospects and they’ve learnt a lot from their experience in Southeast Asia. It makes my job that much more pleasant.
Is there anything we can look forward to in 2016 from AIP?
Yes, definitely! We continuously strive for improvement and innovation. In late 2014, we got fed up of being just a middle man, so we decided to give something more to the student community in Southeast Asia.
In early 2015, we created an ecosystem for students by building new brands and investing in other businesses to provide a wider range of services. Under AIPGlobal.co's network we now have a Thai language school an entrepreneurship school, job matching platform, tech startup incubator, student web board, and more.
What I am most excited about right now is our event series, Bangkok Internship Group (BIG), where past, current, and future interns can get together and learn from each other and also our guest speakers, such as the country manager of Uber Thailand, managing director of Gensler (who started as an intern in the firm), and more. This group ensures that you will never be alone when doing an internship in Bangkok.
There are many more things that we are working on and have in the pipeline but I will keep it a secret for now. We will announce them when we officially launch them.