By Shannan Palma
Yasmeen Wermers 16OX was a sophomore at Oxford College when she learned about an unexpected international internship opportunity. A math and economics major interested in a career with global impact, Wermers jumped at the chance to gain work experience in another country, and was eventually placed with a start-up incubator in the heart of the tech district in Singapore.
Established in fall 2015 by the Office of International and Summer Programs (OISP) in Emory College, the Global Internship program places students with companies in Toronto, Hong Kong, and Singapore for a summer of intense work and learning.
The OISP received far more applications than expected for the pilot program. Due to the independent nature of the experience, administrators set high academic standards and considered evidence of the students’ maturity. After a lengthy application process on the Emory end, accepted students had to be interviewed and hired by the companies themselves.
Last summer, the first twenty students scattered to internship placements in the pilot program cities. They all shared the experience of taking an online course focused on analyzing workplace structures and leadership styles, how to accommodate different generational expectations around professionalism,and how to interact appropriately with their bosses or deal with conflicts that might arise.
“We talk about teaching students to be adaptable and flexible, and what a liberal arts education empowers you to do,” says Dana Tottenham, who manages the program. “But what’s really evident, when you talk to the students and hear their experiences of navigating the global workplace, is that these liberal arts skills come alive.
“One of our goals is to help create a bridge between the academic experience on campus and industry sectors in global cities,” Tottenham adds. “Through the online course, we are connecting the curriculum to the longer term goals that the students have of applying their education in an experiential way.”
Wermers says it was thanks to the online course that she was able to strike the right tone with her company’s CEO. “I was able to interact really well with both generations in my workplace,” she says.