Josephine Wong

2007-2008; South Africa (Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and Zambia (Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Association)

What was your role in your internship?

 I helped with the development and management of the ACCESS! program in both countries. Specific tasks that I undertook included helping businesswomen research export/import regulations, prepared their company profiles, and coordinated training sessions for international consultants. I even created and taught a conversational Mandarin course to business professionals!

What is your favorite story about your internship?

 My favourite story was when some of the women who I helped with in Lusaka (in marketing their products) actually came to Toronto to participate in a trade show organized by the Trade Facilitation Office Canada. I went to see them at their trade show and one of the women gave me samples of her artwork. It is very satisfying to know that the things I have done materialized into the development of her livelihood.

What was the greatest lessen that you learned while you were there?

The difficulties that I have experienced have not necessarily been the technical aspects of my job, but to have to navigate cultural differences. For example, the concept of time is very different across cultures and can be a source of major frustration. For example, we tend to organize our time in time slots and arrange appointments accordingly, but people who I worked with had a much more fluid understanding of time and were not in the habit of making (or sticking to and/or showing up at) appointments. In order to manage this challenge, I decided to have "drop in" hours instead of setting up appointments with people who I worked with. Although this approach did not necessarily work in allcircumstances (such as meeting with more important people), it nonetheless mitigated frustrations in many situations and helped me deal with situations more creatively and patiently.

Any advice for future interns?

 Stay safe, be creative and have fun! A lot of internship experiences are what you make it out to be. What appears to be a boring task can turn into a rewarding one if you take the initiative to develop that experience or expand your responsibilities!