On a regular Monday morning, Grace Tay hustled on a GrabBike in Ho Chi Minh City alongside the busy city’s bustling traffic. The final-year Business and Social Enterprise student on NP’s Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP), wasn’t going to let the heavy traffic deter her from getting to the Vietnam Innovative Start-up Accelerator (VIISA), where Grace took on the role as a Programme Coordinator Intern, handling marketing and PR activities.
Grace, third from left, on the last day of her internship with her colleagues
Due to its limited manpower as a startup, Grace learnt to wear many hats at VIISA. “I did day-to-day marketing, design and event management, but I joined in for company meetings with the bosses because it’s such a small team,” she said, “I even wrote an article about upcoming startups to gain attention from potential investors. While working on that article, I learned new business terms and got to talk to business founders.”
Grace (first from right) with the team of startups VIISA supported through their incubation period
Learning JourneyAlthough the amount of work that she undertook was tremendous, Grace felt “lucky” she went on the GEIP journey. “My work timings were flexible and there was no hierarchy between my colleagues and me. My supervisor would even invite me to his meetings with international clients; I gained lots of business exposure,” Grace said.
GEIP also sparked her interest in business, specifically in the startup landscape. Grace attended talks and events on online marketing and even block-chain technology, which she was not exposed to in school. “I’m interested in the business sector, so GEIP was a good opportunity for me and other students who are interested in entrepreneurship,” she said. Although understanding the industry and its intricacies was challenging at first, she grabbed the opportunity to grow.
While Grace was on GEIP, she became “more independent, adventurous, and learned about the importance of opportunities and networking”. In an incident that was an accumulation of these three values, she visited Dalat and Mui Ne, farther northeast from Ho Chi Minh City. She said, “It’s very authentic. If I didn’t go for this internship I wouldn’t have gone there – I didn’t even know these places before this internship! Our local friends were the ones who told us about them”.
Grace (right) and her fellow GEIP friends at Mui Ne, a town famous for its reddish sand dunes.
Life after GEIP After her internship, Grace was introduced to numerous career opportunities in both Singapore and Vietnam. Amongst them, the founder of a popular Vietnamese app, whom Grace had interviewed for her PR article before, asked her to join his company. Besides, her director in VIISA, now based in Singapore, also offered her employment after graduation.
“My original plan was to start my own fashion business, but after this internship, I realised that I’d rather work for a startup in the investment sector or join the tech community,” she said.
Words of adviceGrace didn’t let her lack of previous work experiences discourage her from applying for GEIP. “I applied based on my entrepreneurship and got accepted,” she said, “One of the main lessons I learnt through this journey is to grab any opportunity that comes your way. If I didn’t sign up for GEIP, I’d have missed so much of everything I’ve experienced. It’s an excellent opportunity to grow yourself: I managed to make more international friends and form my business network.”
Photo: Grace (second from left) on her time off with her international friends at a local brunch eatery
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