She is doing her Thailand internship for 2 months while on summer break from her university studies.
Sonya has a genuine passion for writing and she will share with us her internship experiences and travel adventures in a 3-part blog series.
Enjoy reading about Sonya's journey, and stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3.
Live Your Way Into The Answers
The day before I left for Thailand, I read Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, essentially a collection of letters written by Rilke to a pen pal that chronicles everything from life to love to death.
Some of my favorite quotes include: "fate emerges from us," "let life happen," and "live your way into the answers," especially when your mind mostly consists of questions and uncertainty.
With these witticisms in mind, along with my life mantra to live without expectation, I headed off for Bangkok.
Nonetheless, at my Hong Kong airport layover, I was already flooded with homesickness since I had once traveled to Hong Kong for a family vacation.
Alas, Thailand offered little consolation.
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Ironically, in the first few days, I was incredibly homesick, not so much because I missed interacting with family, but because so many aspects of Bangkok reminded me of Taipei, my father's hometown and capital of Taiwan.
I was constantly surrounded by reminders of my second home country, from the humidity, street smells, and street food vendors, to the brightly air-conditioned 7-11s, tonal language of Thai, and breezy outdoor night markets.
I'd like to imagine that I was in Taiwan if only to achieve a partial sense of comfort and security in a foreign land.
Street Food: A Study On Wealth Disparity
Before long, however, I began appreciating the differences between Bangkok and Taipei, of which there were many.
I no longer compared anything in Thailand to the US--my new baseline standard was Taipei.
For example, Bangkok has a higher population density, greater wealth disparity, and less than half the GDP of Taipei ($100.6 B to $260 B).
I started jotting down every little random curiosity about Bangkok that distinguished it from Taipei--the toilet bidets, cuisine (including insects!), the lack of a true "sidewalk" on my walk to the BTS every morning, and the use of "Khun" as a gender-neutral term of respect.
Like I had observed in Taipei, there are 3 discernible levels of wealth, which I like to explain in terms of food: 1) street food vendors and casual walk-in family shops, 2) Walmart-style supermarkets and food courts, and 3) high-end sit-down restaurants and Whole Foods-style international grocers.
The same is evident in Taipei. The wealth disparity in both cities is a result of rapid urban development reeking with Western influences.
Often one can encounter a lightly-clothed beggar selling sticks of Wrigley's Spearmint and a restaurant touting $30 USD seafood on the same street.
The face-to-face friendliness of Thais almost comically juxtaposed against the subway zombies of public transit, however, was reminiscent mostly of America.
The Genius of the And
In the first week of my Thailand internship, I truly discovered what it means to be excited and fulfilled at work.
My boss is amazing beyond words, and I promise I'm not over-exaggerating.
As exposition, the interrelations of the 3 corporate entities here are extremely "incestuous" (a word used by my boss), which really means that it perfectly embodies the idea of synergy.
I work directly under the founder and CEO of Qube Consulting, a 10-ish person team that provides comprehensive marketing services.
Qube Consulting began working with The Beaumont Partnership by marketing for its non-profit Foundation, which was founded by The Beaumont Partnership, a medium-sized, extremely successful architecture/ interior design company, headquartered in Bangkok.
(Qube Consulting's office is located in a collaborative space owned, designed, and rented out by TBP.
So not only is my workspace beautiful--it includes a coffee shop/cafe less than 10 feet away from my desk--I can go to the 12th floor to TBP's headquarters if needed during the day).
This allows me to experience, quite literally, the best of all 3 worlds while also observing how each entity is strengthened by its connection to the others.
As my boss said, "It's not the tyranny of the or but the genius of the and."
Internship Road Map
My boss is incredibly supportive, and her trust in my work has far exceeded my expectations of cliche mundane tasks typically assigned to interns.
From developing a Hyatt pitch presentation for the Foundation's annual Hyatt Open golf charity event, (which raised 1.1 million Baht last year), to proposing suggestions to the Foundation's website and Facebook page, to developing a branded product (lemongrass tea grown on the Foundation's grounds, to be sold at restaurants/ department stores across Bangkok).
Everyday contains eye-opening projects, both short and long-term.
I especially look forward to my presentation to clients on the Foundation's work at next week's Foundation luncheon, as well as the Foundation's 25th anniversary gala (for which I will apparently need to rent/ buy a ballgown) and week-long stay at the Foundation grounds, to interacting with and teaching classes (English, music, and sports) to the school's students.
Wine and Dine With The CEO
I meet with my boss twice a day, once in the morning to discuss my goals/tasks for the day, and once at the end of the day for feedback, turning in deliverables, and priming for the next day.
Qube Consulting's relatively small team has allowed me tremendous opportunities and access to the CEO with projects I would never have thought possible for an undergraduate intern.
Last week, I researched and created a draft of a presentation on the Workplace of the Future as part of The Beaumont Partnership's pitch for the Mercedez Benz Leasing office design.
Additionally, I read several of my boss's books on company culture, including modes of thinking, how to style a brand, and 100 company tricks not taught in university.
Moreover, my boss is extremely passionate about my personal development.
At the invite of my boss, I had lunch with her and her husband (CEO of The Beaumont Partnership), where I was basically told to "ask [them] anything."
I was amazed at the generosity and non-hierarchical culture of the company and had an incredible experience learning more about the backstory and inner workings of the companies (Qube Consulting and TBP) and non-profit (TBP Foundation).
AIP's Holistic Support
Being from a school who sponsored my Thailand internship, my relationship with AIP was a little different from other interns.
I was connected to AIP through my university and initially interviewed with Ken for company placement.
Having a wide variety of interests (marketing, non-profit, social enterprise, sustainability, urban planning/ design) while also wanting the experience of working in an office dressed in business casual every day, I assumed it would be quite difficult to find the right company.
However, I could not have imagined a placement with which I could be any happier - AIP's network matched me to a company so compatible that even my boss (the CEO) has described me as a "perfect fit" for it.
My holistic experience with AIP has been nothing but pleasant and thoughtful - from airport pickup, pre-loaded SIM and BTS cards, first-day help with navigating to work, to planned networking events and trips with other interns.
AIP truly lets you relax and focus on maximizing your experience.
Follow Sonya's Footsteps With A Thailand Internship
It appears that Sonya is really enjoying her internship experience so far.
She's been undergoing her Thailand internship for a couple weeks now and we can't wait to hear more of her adventures.
If you're interested in doing an international Thailand internship as Sonya did, click on the Apply Now button below or on Learn More for more information.
Click here to read Part 2 of Sonya's Thailand internship and stay tuned for Part 3.
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