While the effects of COVID-19 had made it difficult to travel internationally, what interested me was the invaluable opportunity to make a social impact, but virtually! As a virtual intern with Challenges Abroad, I was fortunate enough to be able support local communities in Thailand facing social, economic, and environmental challenges in an increasingly competitive job market. As a virtual intern at Challenges Abroad in Thailand, my focus was on social enterprise and employability whilst working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
During my internship, there was an orientation session, where I met with James who is the Program Coordinator for the team in Thailand. During various sessions, I progressively gained deeper insights as to the unique culture, the origins of the hill-tribes, as well as the challenges that local students encounter and their experiences. I was also given the invaluable opportunity to network and connect with various stakeholders, including, teachers, students, and local community members who shared their stories and insights as to the challenges faced in education and employment and what their recommendations were. Meeting with diverse members of the community provided a greater global perspective and awareness. Additionally, it also allowed me to ask so many questions that broadened the scope of my research in tailoring my project to the most effective strategies in student support and engagement.
I found that there were fundamental areas that needed to be addressed including, developing employability and social-emotional skills, and increasing workplace opportunity in the transition of higher education to the workforce. Based on my independent research, as well as my experience speaking with various community members, I was able to develop a curricular framework that structured engagement sessions that encompassed key ‘soft’ and technical skills, including interview and CV writing skills to name a few.
Throughout the internship, I had regular contact with my mentor Victoria, who provided valuable insights, expertise, and feedback. With continuous support, this aims to help you deliver your project to the best of your ability, leading up to presentation day. In addition, throughout the internship, in addition to the meetings and sessions, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in exclusive workshops led by industry professionals on topics such as project management, leadership, and career pathways, which I found extremely helpful.
In my final week, with my research and solutions to challenges, I was able to collate and collaborate to present my final project. Thereafter, I presented my findings, purpose and background of my project that was supported by a detailed curricular outline that addressed a particular social/emotional goal and key learning outcome for each session and activity.
Overall, I honed skills in cross-communication and critical thinking including, collaborating with stakeholders, asking questions, and finding solutions to challenges by identifying and analysing how those challenges can be mitigated. The program itself was also very flexible with work and uni commitments, and the experience and skills developed was invaluable! As such, the unique internship with Challenges Abroad provides the opportunity to make a positive impact during unprecedented times, and I highly recommend it to everyone!
If you’re passionate about making a difference in this world, don’t let this pandemic stop you! We don’t want anyone missing out on an international experience, so we’ve brought it to you. Check out our virtual internship program on our website for more information.