Perry World House hosted its Global Career Week, an annual event series that focuses on international engagement, in October, which included a feature of Penn's internship abroad program.
The events, held from Oct. 17 to Oct. 21, featured alumni and real-world professionals who have experience working in careers centered around international issues, including human rights, national security, and foreign policy. Sessions geared toward undergraduates also highlighted foreign internship and fellowship opportunities. The International Internships panel provided students with an opportunity to learn about Penn’s Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP).
The Oct. 21 panel at Perry World House was led by Zoraida Hu, the Global Programs Coordinator at Penn Abroad, and featured students who had participated in GRIP this past summer, including Engineering sophomore Rebecca Peng.
Peng, a computer science major, interned at Phenikaa MaaS, a startup in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that focuses on technology designed to improve transportation within Vietnam. She worked as an Artificial Intelligence intern and spent the summer training different models to be used in deep learning pipelines.
“One of my favorite projects is one where we developed a model to detect the state of traffic lights around the city. The data we found on the internet wasn't good enough, so we drove around the city with our co-workers on their motorbikes and physically took pictures of as many traffic lights as we could,” Peng said.
Peng said that the internship helped her professional development and provided insight into the workload behind coding, and serves as a unique story and foundation for future internships.
The program also taught Peng to overcome “imposter syndrome,” and ask questions when she needed to, she said.
”Imposter syndrome is something I feel all the time,” she said. “But understanding that if you know and get something, you will be productive too and it will help everyone.”
During the internship, Peng said she spent a lot of time exploring outside Ho Chi Minh City and traveling around Vietnam.
"It gave me a really good understanding of what Vietnam was actually like and not just one city,” she said, adding that she would recommend that future GRIP participants should travel outside of their placement city.
Engineering sophomore Angeline Fung, who attended the International Internships event, said she is interested in studying abroad to gain a “global perspective” in the tech industry as a computer science major. Fung, who is from Taiwan, said she is interested in exploring other countries in Asia or Europe.
“I want to understand more about the work culture of other countries, which is very distinct from the U.S.,” she said. “I'm thinking of working in the States post-graduation, so I feel like it'd be a nice opportunity before going into the U.S. workforce.”
Laurie Jensen, associate director of Penn Abroad, wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that opportunities to explore different cultures, countries, and perspectives prepare students “for the diverse and global world that awaits them after graduation.”
GRIP participants have found the program experiences to have “enhanced their academic development, contributed to their career goals, [provided] cultural exposure and immersion into their host community, and allowed space for personal growth and independence,” Jensen wrote.
For the upcoming summer session, Penn Abroad will offer placements in 20 to 25 countries, and an announcement will be made on Nov. 7, Jensen wrote. Students who apply will be informed of their admissions decision on March 2. Each student accepted to GRIP receives a funding stipend to help finance their experience abroad, which can be used toward flights, housing, meals, and transportation.
During their time in the program, GRIP participants are also required to complete two blog entries and two surveys while abroad, Jensen wrote.
“These deliverables help students reflect on their experience while it is happening and also assist us in making improvements to the program for future years,” she wrote.
Students are also invited to participate in a video contest to showcase their experience abroad, with the highest cash prize being $1,000.
In addition to the International Internships session, there will be a variety of additional info sessions and workshops which can aid students in preparing their application and understanding the GRIP experience. These can be found on Penn Abroad’s Events & Deadlines page, according to Jensen.