Alumni Spotlight: Ibrahim Syed

What originally inspired you to intern in Shanghai with Next Step Connections?

Ibrahim: When I graduated in Canada, I was really looking to develop a skill set that would provide me with an edge over other graduating students. Throughout my life, I always loved traveling and was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to get exposed to a completely new culture and at the same time allow me to develop my professional skills. I was looking for a one-stop shop experience, and that is exactly what Next Step Connections guaranteed. Next Step Connections not only provided an opportunity to travel to China but also offered a guaranteed internship in my chemical engineering background. This cultural and professional experience come in very handy since most companies in USA or Canada operate in multicultural and diverse teams.

Describe your day to day activities as an intern in Shanghai.

Views of Shanghai's skyline at night

Ibrahim: Every day in Shanghai was an adventure and fun. I got to meet a lot of other like-minded interns in China and was able to explore a new culture together. Next Step Connections provided support from the moment I applied to the moment I departed from China. They were always a call away for any kind of help needed whether it was language or directions. On a daily basis we explored different areas of the city, went shopping and tried different eateries. Next Step Connection also organized guided tours to different towns near Shanghai.

All the Next Step Connections interns lived in the same building or area and so we got to become really good friends and became more like a family to each other. We traveled to different cities including Beijing and tried to do it in the most local fashion as possible. We took a local 13hr train to Beijing and that was a lifetime experience. The idea of having like minded friends exploring a culture with you is really a plus since it allows you to overcome any challenges that you may feel. Next Step Connections also organized private Chinese lessons on a weekly basis to help us settle in the culture easily. We could choose our own schedules with our instructors. At the end of the internship, I got to travel to Tibet and Nepal with friends before flying back. I got to see Mt. Everest and the little Chinese I learned came in very handy when I took a local 3 day train to Tibet.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Ibrahim: This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed me to put life in perspective and understand the importance of diversity and culture. China is a growing economy and almost everything is manufactured in China and so it was a great place from an engineering standpoint to go out there and learn a few things that make that society so successful in this world. I worked at a drug manufacturing company which provided a great insight into organic synthesis research, manufacturing and engineering of pharmaceutical products. I was exposed to a culture deeply immersed in working and producing the success they dream of. The experience was not only motivational but allowed me to think beyond our assumed boundaries. Next Step Connection also organized networking and professional team building events where we were able to interact with business and professional leaders in China especially at a time when China is growing.