A Challenging Internship as an Export Consultant at Hinrich Foundation
I worked and lived in Ho Chi Minh City for five months. It is a vibrant city of Vietnam, the streets are always crowded, you can hear the noise of cars, and motorbikes from morning till midnight. The bustle and hustle of the busy city life was suitable for a young and active person like me.
My title was export consultant at Hinrich Foundation. My responsibility was to search, prescreen and recruit quality suppliers via phone calls and emails. Then I arranged meetings with them. In addition, I need to write business profiles for the suppliers and support them in using marketing services from Global Sources.
Rising to the challenge
The internship was much more challenging than I had thought. Everyday going to work was a new experience to me because I would talk to new suppliers and do different tasks. At the beginning, I felt nervous and could not speak smoothly because I was shy and lack of experience. I knew that I had to be more serious and I started practicing my speaking skills at home. I stood in front of the mirror and spoke to myself everyday.
After some weeks, I felt that I had improved a lot and I could speak with suppliers more easily. The conversations had been better and more effective. The suppliers listened to me and asked me to send emails to them because they felt interesting with the program.
Valuable business lessons
My favorite task was visiting the suppliers with my colleague. The meetings were held at the supplier’s offices or factories. I was able to see how the daily business was run. They not only provided us information about their companies but also shared with us their experiences.
Each supplier had a different story to tell me. They had told me how they run their businesses, how they made products and how they dealt with the difficult situation of Vietnamese economic. Each story was a unique, valuable lesson and a new experience for an intern like me. I have learned a lot from these meetings. It has given me an insight into B2B model. To me, I prefer visiting factories rather than offices since I could observe the machines and people work to make products.
Best learning experience with international traders
My best experience was the time when I and my colleague accompanied two buyers from a large Hong Kong trading company to the supplier’s factories. They were seeking for headwear and bag suppliers with export experience shipping to the US market.
The suppliers have showed us their factories. I could see different stages of production process, different types of machines and dozens of people working around. It was also interesting to take part in the negotiation between buyers and suppliers and listen to them. I could learn how they questioned the others about the quantity, quality, prices and many other things.
Improving my life by helping others
The most memorable night to me was on mid-December, when I took part in a charity program organized by some local volunteer groups delivering Christmas gifts for homeless people in Ho Chi Minh City. It was started at night and finished at 2 am. We divided into groups and went along the streets to seek and deliver gifts for disadvantage people who were poor and homeless.
I had seen many people sleeping in the seats of bus stops, in the parks or event on the pavement. I felt so sorry for them. And I realized that I still had a better life than them. I should appreciate what I have now and be more optimistic when facing problems because there are many other people who are unluckier than me. That was definitely one of the most meaningful nights in my life.
About the Author – Nha Nguyen