By Sabrina Mui
This past summer, I was given the opportunity to study and intern abroad in Sydney, Australia for almost 11 weeks through the Ross Global Initiatives program. With the help of the BLI Global Internship Award, I was able to experience one of the best summers, immersing myself into a new environment where I learned to adapt and broaden both my educational and global horizon.
During my time in Sydney, I had a two-week course at the University of Technology Sydney learning about Australia’s economy and exporting sector. Prior to this study abroad and internship program, I was nervous because the rest of the 40 U of M students who were going on this trip were all people I have never met before. However during this short course, I was challenged to reach out of my comfort zone to meet my new classmates and work together in many small group projects and assignments. Despite the difference in age gaps or majors, we were able to find a common ground in which we could all relate to and were able to pull from our individual strengths in order to produce the best outcome for the projects we were assigned to. In just a span of two weeks, I felt comfortable around my classmates and developed many new friendships.
After studying for two weeks, I began my internship at Novotech, working with the accounting and finance team. Because our company’s year-end audits are on the 30th of June, I came at the perfect time to help Novotech prepare the financial statements for the FY 2016 for its auditors- Grant Thorton. For Novotech, this time of year is the busiest because all the accounts on file must be cleared or closed so the finance team has many projects and assignments to complete. As a student who has only taken two basic accounting classes, I felt unprepared dealing with actual financial statements and accounts for the company. I was constantly assigned to projects before my other projects were even completed, but I learned to become organized with the work that was assigned to me, pace myself and find every opportunity to ask questions. Though I felt like a burden toward my managers and my team when I interrupted their work to ask them questions, I have learned to find more interest in the projects that I am working on when I understand the process and purpose behind the tasks that I do. On the other hand, my coworkers or managers who explain the projects or concepts are always so willing to spend the time, whether it takes them 30 minutes or 3 hours to fully explain the process. Although I have gained much exposure toward the accounting field from working on the projects, I have also developed personal relationships with my team, whether it is my boss, managers, or other coworkers. I have learned to appreciate the amount of time they invested into me regardless of their busy schedule or strict deadlines that they need to meet.
After living in Australia for almost 11 weeks, I have noticed a difference in the work life culture compared to the US. Even though my company is currently in a busy season, my coworkers learn to take everything one at a time and not get too overwhelmed by the hard deadlines. My boss understands not to overwork his employees and creates a decentralized working environment, making it more stress-free and easy for all employees to approach him. I really appreciate the friendly working environment that Australia encourages and that is something that I will want to look for in a company.
Overall, I absolutely loved my summer experience in Australia. I will always remember the examples my coworkers set for me- mentoring and guiding me throughout my time at Novotech. I will treasure the memories I have made throughout the trip as I continue my journey through college and into my future career. Thanks again to the generous donation, which provided me the privilege to study and intern abroad in Sydney, Australia, a summer that I will never forget.