A Tale of Two Interns
18 Oct 2019
Amy Kwan and China (pronounced Chee-na) Yamasaki are students from Griffith University and Southern Cross University respectively. Both are serving internships with Tyler International, a Gold Coast based study tour organisation. CEO Angela Tyler says her company is always happy to accept students who believe their internship experience will benefit their career aspirations.
“China wants to become a travel agent when she returns to Japan. Her goal is to utilise her English language skills and experience here so that she can work as an Australian travel specialist upon her return to Japan. By working with us she’s been exposed to travel agents based in Japan, China and Taipei who bring students here and travel with them on study tours, so it’s an ideal fit for her,” says Angela.
“Amy on the other hand is a permanent resident and wants to remain in Australia. She speaks Japanese and also a little bit of Chinese. She’d like to work in a local tourism operation that works in a similar capacity to the way we do here.”
Internships are a two-way street, it’s not only what the intern is looking for, but the employer as well. “We love taking international students because of their language capabilities,” says the Tyler CEO. “It’s an advantage to us because they can teach our staff about the cultural nuances and differences that we need to be aware of in our business.”
“Having an international student intern also helps our staff to understand how they operate and function within their own cultural environment because it’s all about customer service. If we can learn more about international customs from having interns in our office, then our team benefits from that too,” explains Angela.
Angela Tyler points out that cultural familiarity creates an easier environment for the visitors when they have someone with them who can understand their native tongue. “In our case the young students can relate to someone closer to their own age who shares the same cultural reference points. With an intern serving that role they tend to become mentors as they share their own experience as an international student with the tour group.
“The visitors then gain a better understanding of what to expect as an international student and how to make the most of their own experience. That adds huge value for the students and it becomes a more rewarding experience for the intern as well,” enthuses Angela.
Getting the most from the experience.
To ensure their interns gain the most of their experience Angela sits down with them at the beginning of their tenure to discuss their goals and look at ways the team at Tyler International can help the interns achieve them.
“We do that by setting different stages of accomplishment throughout their internship,” says Angela. “I like to ask them what they want from their experience. I also want to know what their weaknesses are so that we can focus on those too. Hopefully by the time they’ve finished their internship they’re workplace ready with the confidence and experience to do the job well. Both Amy and China had areas they were worried about from a workplace perspective when they first came on board, but we’ve been able to help them address those issues.”
Angela makes it clear that undertaking an internship is vastly different to studying at university. “You can have all of the theory in the world, but if you can’t actually operate in a work environment you’re really going to struggle. If we can give them practical exposure in the workplace with the confidence to perform a task then we’ve achieved something significant and it’s a safe place to fall.
“We talk about what they’re getting out of the experience right throughout their journey – different things that they didn’t know or understand previously. It’s great to see those ‘aha!’ moments where they say: ‘I get it now!’ That’s really rewarding for our team.”