By the SMU Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre
Having been away from his family since the pandemic began, SMU School of Economics student Lee Junsoo eagerly wanted to spend his first summer break back home in South Korea. However, the Finance major also wanted to use the four months to gain valuable work experience for his future career, especially while still in Year One.
Thankfully, Junsoo did not need to choose between the two. The Overseas Virtual Internship Programme (OVIP) organised by SMU’s Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre made it possible for him to embark on an internship with a Jakarta-based company while he was physically back in South Korea.
Junsoo got his first taste of Indonesian culture from a leisure trip to Bali five years prior. He appreciated the more relaxed pace of life there, a stark contrast from that in Singapore and South Korea. Knowing too that Indonesia was one of the fastest-growing countries in the world with plenty of business potential, Junsoo had longed to experience working in an Indonesian company.
Junsoo chose to apply for the role of an Investment Analyst with PT Genesis Indojaya, a real estate development company based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company focuses on acquiring distressed buildings and refurbishing them to rent out to tenants such as foreign talents, the elderly, and travellers.
The job scope’s heavy focus on finance, particularly research and financial modelling was very attractive to Junsoo as those were areas in which he wanted more exposure to. Being a first-year student at the time, Junsoo was still keeping his options for specialisation open. The role presented a great opportunity for him to give the real estate industry a try to see if it would fit his interests and strengths.
Getting ahead by gaining and sharpening professional skills
As an Investment Analysis intern, Junsoo had to conduct market research, do financial modelling, and build pitch decks to present to potential investors. At first, Junsoo was concerned that, as a Year One student, he would not be equipped enough to make meaningful contributions to the company. However, he soon learnt that SMU’s foundational career skills were more than sufficient to perform his tasks.
The presentation skills picked up from SMU’s seminar-based classes greatly aided the creation of pitch decks for potential investors. SMU’s many group projects also developed Junsoo’s teamwork and communication skills, enabling him to build positive relationships with other interns and even the directors – virtually at that! Observing how PT Genesis Indojaya developed their projects, from selecting target lands and buildings to choosing potential investors, taught Junsoo about strategy, planning and negotiation.
Post-internship, Junsoo was pleasantly surprised to discover that the practical lessons he learnt on the job corresponded with concepts introduced in his Year Two modules; some of these included the discounted cash flow models, calculating internal rate of return, and net present value, among others. Learning about these concepts in a real-life business setting gave Junsoo an advantage over his peers.
Teamwork makes the dream work
- Junsoo (centre, bottom row) with his team in a virtual meeting
PT Genesis Indojaya’s welcoming and nurturing environment made Junsoo’s OVIP experience, which was also his first finance internship ever, even more special. The company’s directors were very willing to teach and guide the interns step-by-step. Junsoo’s fellow interns, many of whom were seniors, would also teach him what they knew about financial modelling, a basic finance skill that Junsoo was eager to develop.
Aside from the skills gained, Junsoo is grateful for the bonds formed with the other interns due to their synergy. The project-based nature of PT Genesis Indojaya’s work required the interns to collaborate very closely. After their daily meetings with the directors, the interns would have their own meetings to divide the work based on their strengths. As an international student, Junsoo was also glad to have made friends with interns from SMU as well as other universities.
Strengthening foundation early for greater success
Ultimately, Junsoo found his OVIP experience highly impactful. Being able to carry out the internship from South Korea was certainly a huge selling point. However, Junsoo’s biggest takeaway was the “invaluable” skills and knowledge gained in the area of finance. His experience at PT Genesis Indojaya helped him to secure a part-time internship at a management consulting firm as an M&A Analysis intern, where he was able to further develop his finance skills.
Junsoo encourages his SMU peers, even those in Year One or Two, to go on an ASEAN internship for a rewarding time of career preparation and self-discovery. He recommends that, if possible, they go for a physical internship for the full taste of working overseas. Junsoo’s OVIP experience was exceptional, though he wishes that he could have visited the project sites, which previous batches who interned physically in Jakarta got to experience.
Finally, Junsoo shares, “Embarking on ASEAN internship means an adventure and a personal challenge for oneself. By experiencing working beyond a local environment, SMU students can learn from people from various backgrounds and gain unique opportunities to experience the culture. I believe that ASEAN internships will be a valuable experience for all SMU students.”
The ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) and Overseas Virtual Internship Programme (OVIP) are part of the offerings provided by Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC) to encourage students to build up an international network and be Global Citizens. Apply for a Summer OVIP in an ASEAN country via OnTraC now.
Join the SMU undergraduates who fan out across the world on a host of activities and programmes each year. Accepted your offer? Matriculate now and let your best years begin!