What does the Asian Affairs Center hope to accomplish through these placements?

While we take care to place students at a site that will match their interests, this does not necessarily mean their major field of study. Our hope is that this experience will provide them with a positive environment in which to hone their social skills so that they are better able to work with different people, environments, and languages.

Among the varied experiences the Asian Affairs Center attempts to provide, one is the opportunity to work in and observe a workplace. Unpaid internships are arranged with local businesses, campus departments and non-profit organizations. The students are committed to working hard, but a primary purpose is to put them in a situation of working and communicating with fellow workers and patrons or clients in order to deepen their knowledge of American business culture. They thrive in situations where they can ask questions and receive feedback.

Do the internship sites need to be near the MU campus or where they are living?

No. The students live on campus, so they will either walk to their worksites, or the Asian Affairs Center staff will drive them.

Do the students speak English well?

In most cases, yes. Although the students are continuing their learning process, all students have undergone a rigorous application and interview process and have met the program's requirement for English competency. We feel confident that they can function well in their internship experience.

What is an ideal work environment?

The goal of the internship portion of our programs is to find workplace settings that ideally meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Expose students to an American work environment.
  2. Provide students opportunities to interact on a regular basis with various people in the workplace (in some cases this might be clients, colleagues or both).
  3. Help students gain insight about some of their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Give students the chance to work in a team environment.
  5. Meet the professional or personal interest areas of students.
  6. Encourage the students to communicate in English on a regular basis in the workplace.
  7. Instill confidence in the student.
  8. Expose students to a variety of American wqork environments, including both individual tasks and team-centered work.

What tasks can an intern perform?

Our goal is to have the interns placed in situations that contribute to their understanding of American business culture - both in dealing with clients or customers as well as working with colleagues.

Appropriate tasks include:

  • Any job that is performed by the staff at your place of business.
  • Job shadowing activities, especially at the beginning of the internship, to better understand your work site.
  • Sitting in on meetings and observing the decision-making progress in American work places.
  • Any project that contributes to the success of your business or office. Interns love being able to contribute in a meaningful way to the worksite.
  • The interns are NOT permitted to drive during their stay in Columbia, even with an international permit.

"Interaction is key." Being able to interact regularly with their American supervisors, colleagues, customers, and clients is what excites the interns the most-and it is what allows the interns to reach their primary goal of learning about American work culture and practicing their professional English. Please note that some individual work is OK, especially if they have the ability to ask questions of their supervisors or colleagues. The best situation is if they get to see and do a variety of jobs over the course of their internship.

What is expected of the supervisor of the intern?

There's not much in the way of paperwork or meetings that we ask of our internship sites. We will, however, ask you to complete a simple evaluation form to verify the days that the student work at your location for the student to show their home university at the end of the program. The program coordinator will also check in periodically to see how things are going.

Before your student comes to work, we will invite you to a lunch where you can meet them personally before they begin work. We find that this is an excellent time to ease the anxiety the student might be feeling about going to a work place in a foreign country, and it is a wonderful time for you to meet them and get to know them a little outside of the work setting. You will also be invited to attend their final presentation and graduation ceremony. (If you are not able to attend these events, we ask that you send a colleague who also works closely with your intern. For the students, the presence of their supervisor or co-worker at the luncheon-and the graduation-is especially important.)

What is expected of the workplace environment?

  • A "work station" for the intern-preferably not isolated from the rest of the staff.
  • Co-workers who welcome the students and include them in office communication and activities.

What else should I know?

The students are curious and friendly and will ask questions about how and why Americans do things in certain ways. They also are very open to telling you about their country's life and culture as they have experienced it. Organizations that have hosted interns in the past have found them delightful and helpful. We believe you and your employees will feel they have gained as much as they have given the students during their time in your place of business.