Hello readers! I am Hayley Edde who recently graduated from UTC with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities: International Studies with a focus on Asian civilization, culture, and history. For my last semester at UTC, I chose to complete a virtual internship through SIT Study Abroad. The internship was called Vietnam: Virtual Internship in Development and Gender. I hope to share with you a little bit of my experience from this program to help you feel better prepared while exploring the world of study abroad.
SIT Study Abroad split the internship into two parts meaning that half of the course work was completed with SIT staff and the other half of the work was provided to you by your internship leader. The first meeting with SIT staff was used to introduce you to the program and assign the internship. Following the first meeting, I met with my internship leader who explained what my requirements would be and decide on a topic for my research. My internship was with SISS better known as The Southern Institute of Social Sciences. SISS is a scientific research organization under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, which has the function of studying theoretical and practical issues about social sciences in the South of Vietnam. It is located in Ho Chi Min city in the same building as the SIT’s Vietnam office. It has 11 research centers including Center for Philosophy and Political Sciences, Center for Economics, Center for Sociology, Center for Gender and Family Research, Center for Ethnic Studies, Center for Religious Studies, Center for Environmental Research, Center for Development Research and Consultancy, Center for Literature and Linguistics, Center for Archaeology, and Center for History. My work for this past semester was completed with Ms. Chua in the Center for Research and Consultancy for Development. After we concluded the first meeting, I had understood that I would be working with her as a research assistant in an attempt to complete a scholarly article. I continue my volunteer work with her in an attempt of completing this article.
In addition, each schedule was personalized for each internship and intern. The internship leader sent out emails with work plans on them within the first week of the internship. These schedules were flexible so that they could be changed to better fit the student if it were needed. I thought the schedule looked fine and went ahead and confirmed it. SIT staff scheduled weekly seminars that we needed to attend as well. The schedule for weekly seminars with the SIT staff was less flexible. If you were not able to attend a meeting, they usually had it recorded and could send it to you if you emailed them saying that you would like to view the recording. There was a 12-hour time difference between Vietnam and Chattanooga until the time changed and then it was a 13-hour time difference. Most of the time the schedule had been decided in Vietnamese time and then I would have to convert it to the time here. That put meetings a day before they were scheduled. Similarly, to if it were scheduled at 10 am on the 15th then I would attend it at 10 pm on the 14th. My internship also had me scheduled for 4 pm meetings which meant I attended them at 4 am. Personally, I work better early mornings and had a busy schedule last semester so 4 am meetings were no trouble for me. I did have an opportunity to change the time but chose not to because the meetings for me were short and usually did not last over 30 minutes. The links to the meetings were usually emailed to interns a week in advance.
Above was just a brief look into the responsibilities the internship required. I highly suggest completing an internship with SIT and in Vietnam. The staff was always ready to guide you through any challenges you may be having. They also were very optimistic about continuing our work and our relationship with the staff in Vietnam. They even wished for us to visit them once the pandemic is over. This was the first time they completed a virtual internship for their program in Vietnam on development and gender, but I would not have been able to tell that if they had not told me. It was very professional and well organized. If I had the opportunity to do it again, I would. I hope you also chose an excellent program with a great staff.
Hayley Edde is majoring in International Studies and participated in a Spring 2021 virtual internship abroad in Vietnam through SIT Study Abroad. Hayley had the following to say about (virtual) interning abroad, “Whether your adventure abroad is a check off a bucket list or a lifelong adventure, it all began as an idea. That idea will grow and flourish into the unimaginable. Never be afraid to embrace a new country, a new language, and most importantly the beginning of your own something new.” Hayley previously studied abroad in South Korea twice (summer and a somewhat interrupted year) and China.
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