Graduating from college can be both exciting and terrifying, especially with the challenge of finding that first job or internship. We had a chance to talk with Greenheart Travel alumna, Harley Chase, who used her internship in Thailand experience to land her current marketing job in the U.S. She shares how her travels helped her in the interview process, why it’s important to explore before settling into a career and advice for making the most of an internship experience in Thailand.
Q: What inspired you to travel to Thailand for your internship?
I traveled to Thailand to intern about a month after I graduated college. Leading up to graduation, many people, myself included, were stressing about next steps: applying for jobs, moving to a new place, etc. Personally, I had no clue what I wanted to pursue career-wise. I was sort of stuck in a place where I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew exactly what I didn’t want to do.
I had been itching to travel to Asia, specifically Thailand for sometime before this. It was actually while I was looking for employment opportunities for after graduation that I found out about Greenheart Travel and the internship program in Thailand.
For me it was a no brainer. I looked at it this way- I was able to not stress about future plans and enjoy my final semester of college. I would also be able to explore and live in a place that was very high on my list of destinations I wanted to go while still getting a professional experience.
Q: Knowing what you know now from working in your marketing career, how important do you feel experiencing another culture and country has been to your personal growth as well as your career path?
The company I work for brings snacks from a different country every month to people’s homes around the world. My experience working in Thailand not only helps me better understand different cultures better, but also allows me better market towards our customers who come from many countries outside the U.S., including the UK, Canada, Israel and Australia. In a way, experiencing another culture opens up a different way of thinking about things and how to communicate with others which is definitely a key in marketing.
Q: What are one or two of your favorite memories, experiences or images that stand out for you looking back on your internship in Thailand?
The group of interns that I was in Thailand with were awesome! We are all from different places around the U.S. and it was a really great experience to not only learning about the culture of the country we were living, but learning about their lives. Although we were all so different, the experience brought us together. That being said, we went on a lot of weekend trips to explore different parts of the country. Many of my favorite memories come from these weekends. My favorite weekend was our time spent in Kanchanaburi! I definitely recommend people visiting it. I also just really enjoyed finding the little gems of Hua Hin (the town we lived in).
Q: How have you used your experience in Thailand to meet your career goals now that you have returned home?
Ultimately, my experience in Thailand was one of the reason I got my job. My company ships international snacks from specific countries every month, and when I went in for my interview the country they were doing was Thailand. It was such a great conversation piece throughout the interview. I have also studied and lived in Italy for a semester in college and was able to travel a lot during that time. I think those two experiences allowed me to be able to convey my open mindedness about the world and exploring it.
Q: Has this trip changed any of your personal and professional priorities or goals since you have returned?
As strange as it sounds, it has impacted my environmental efforts in my daily life. The major thing I noticed was the amount of plastic they use in Thailand and their lack of major recycling efforts. Even though I know this is a problem worldwide, and with Thailand being a developing country, I can’t say I was super surprised about it. However, it definitely made me more conscious of this in my normal life when I returned home.
Q: Where do you currently work and do you feel your travels have influenced your path to this position?
I work for Universal Yums, a subscription box company that sends boxes of unique snacks from a different country every month. My travels ( and my eagerness to travel more) are something I think of everyday at work. While doing research on the given country we are doing that month, I find myself reflecting on my travels and even comparing things I come across to that experience.
Q: If you were talking with someone that wasn’t sure about doing an internship abroad because they were worried about their career, what would you say to persuade them to go for it?
In my experience, it can do nothing but help you, so go for it! Even though there were times in Thailand that I panicked about what my next move would be for my career, it was impossible to dwell for too long while you are in such an incredible place. Realistically, once you start a full time 9 to 5 job you will typically get anywhere from 15 to 20 days off a year. That doesn’t leave you much time to visit a new country, let alone truly immerse yourself in its culture.
An internship abroad not only allows you to really experience a different culture through the work you are doing (and also just living day to day in the country) but it it is definitely a resume booster and if nothing else, a great conversation starter!
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone that helped you during your travels?
I don’t really have a concrete quote or anything, but there are a couple of things I always keep in mind while traveling. One is to definitely seize the opportunity. If you are in a certain country why not experience it to its fullest because who knows if you’ll ever have an opportunity to do anything like it again.
Q: Any other additional thoughts or tips you have for anyone wanting to travel or do an international internship?
Here are a few things I’d say:
Do your research (on the area, the program, the company you’d be working for, the culture, etc)
You are likely going to experience culture shock… But when you leave these are likely the quirks of the country you are going to miss.
Just get out there and do it! If you are lucky enough to have the resources and the amount of time to go travel or intern abroad, what’s stopping you? If anything, through the experience of learning about another culture you will learn a lot about yourself.