Staff Member Spotlight: Samantha Cornelius

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StandOut Internship Coordinator

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Samantha Cornelius is based in Hong Kong and runs the operational side of the business, including everything from liaising with host companies to arranging accommodation and events for interns. Samantha worked for Linklaters as a solicitor for eight years, initially in the London office and then in the Hong Kong office before deciding to set up StandOut in Hong Kong.

What makes interning abroad in Hong Kong a unique experience for participants?

Hong Kong can offer the best of both worlds - it is an international city AND it is a booming Asian economy. This means that anyone can feel at home in Hong Kong and it is a great place to start a career. What is more, many multinational firms have a base in Hong Kong and we have excellent connections with them for arranging internships.

What can you tell us about the workplace culture in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong Chinese have a strong and loyal work ethic and therefore Hong Kong is renowned for being a place where people work hard and are valued for their commitment. In some of the more expat offices there is also quite a play hard culture, so you can find yourself working hard during the day and partying hard into the night!

What level of Mandarin/Cantonese proficiency should students have when considering this internship? Are there any requirements?

Chinese skills (Mandarin or Cantonese) are not usually required as most of our internship positions are in English-speaking offices. Nevertheless, some employers do indicate that business Chinese language skills would be a bonus.

Is prior work experience required?

Generally no, although it depends on the employer - some of our employers do indicate a preference for students in their penultimate or final year of university who have had some prior relevant work experience.

What are some extra-curricular activities students enjoy while interning in Hong Kong?

By way of an example, we arranged the following for our most recent batch of interns: a welcome dinner, a night at the horse races, a hike on the Hong Kong trail, a karaoke night, a boat trip, dim sum lunch and various after works drinks.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone interning in Hong Kong?

Consider tacking on an introductory Mandarin language course in Hong Kong during your internship - we can even arrange this for you as we have links to a number of different language schools.

What separates StandOut Internships from other internship providers?

What makes us unique is the fact that we include a pre-internship professional development training course as part of the internship abroad experience. The course is all about preparing interns for working in the office environment. We teach them about e.g. local business etiquette, professional behavior, work prioritization and presentation skills through a series of seminars and group tasks.

We also include career coaching advice. The course presents interns with an opportunity to meet other interns on the program and we find that by the end of it the interns have bonded really well - it sets them up with a social network for the duration of their internship. We also have a genuine interest in furthering the job prospects of our interns and we have found permanent jobs for several of our interns who come back to us after they graduate from university.

What are the core principles StandOut Internships strives to achieve?

Our aim is to ensure that we have happy, motivated interns who enjoy their internship abroad experience. We know that this is only possible if we appropriately match interns' skills and interests to host company cultures. We therefore strive to provide an outstanding personalized service - we don't just place you into any old internship. We also don't just make it about the work - we arrange social events to make your evenings and weekends fun as well.

How can an international internship help students prepare for the job market?

It may sound cliched, but living and working abroad really broadens your outlook by giving you an international perspective. You learn about new working cultures and practices. It also forces you out of your comfort zone, because you have to make new friends and learn your way around a new city. Employers recognize the effort and motivation that candidates require in order to work abroad and are more likely to snap up the job applicants that have done an international internship.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad?

Don't hesitate - just do it!

Anything else you would like to share?

I myself interned abroad in an investment bank in Sydney during the summer holidays between my second and third years of university. During my job interviews after university several employers focussed on this work experience and the fact that I had travelled abroad to work - I sensed from their questions that it made me stand out from other candidates.