Taking First Steps Towards a Career in Sustainability with SMU ASEAN Internship Programme

By the SMU Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre

SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) student Leong Hui Ling had been to Thailand multiple times. Yet, her frequent visits to the country did not abate her fascination and intrigue with it; in preparation for an internship in Thailand, Hui Ling even took up a Thai Language module in her first year at SMU.

Currently studying Business Management with a double major in Operations Management and Sustainability, Hui Ling saw Bangkok, Thailand to be the perfect testbed for innovative sustainability-based solutions. Having previously taken on sustainability-based internships in Singapore, Hui Ling was looking for new perspectives to the sustainability discussion. Beyond learning through textbooks, she aspired to be a part of the action in devising improved sustainability solutions.

Coupled with her excitement of being fully immersed in the Thai culture, embarking on an ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) in Bangkok was a no-brainer for Hui Ling.

When she had the opportunity to talk to Indorama Ventures’ International’s (IVL) Global Head of Environmental Sustainability through the Dato Kho’ Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC), Hui Ling knew she had found the right company to intern at. As a global petrochemical company and the world’s largest producer of PET resin, IVL placed a strong focus in making positive environmental and social impact.

Through the DKHMCC, Hui Ling also received financial assistance for her internship through the Global Ready Talent (GRT) overseas grant. With a firm sustainability mission in mind, she set out on her journey as a Sustainability Intern with IVL in the Land of Smiles.


Friendships forged from the get-go

Hui Ling with fellow SMU Interns (left) and the Indorama Ventures team (right).


Contracting Covid-19 and being put in quarantine in her first week in Bangkok did not dampen Hui Ling’s spirits. Not one to be defeated, she jumped straight into working virtually as soon as she got better so as to stay on top of the steep learning curve. The massive support from her colleagues and fellow SMU interns, who found every way to keep her connected and informed, made Hui Ling’s onboarding quick and seamless.

Feeling the care and concern of her colleagues, it’s little surprise that Hui Ling considers the friendships forged as one of the best parts of her ASEAN Internship experience. While it took some initial adjustments to get used to the culture, Hui Ling’s colleagues took the time to acclimatise her and the other SMU interns to the local practices and way of life. The many weekends spent together and the beautiful memories created allowed Hui Ling to better appreciate the kaleidoscopic intricacies that make up the Thai culture.


Exposure to the real world

The Indorama Ventures’ International Internship Camp


With IVL’s global reach, the projects that Hui Ling got to be involved in pushed her to grow both her hard and soft skills. The scale of these projects were also vastly different from other sustainability internships she had done before. Hui Ling reflects that the key differentiators came down to the differing levels of sustainability progress made by the countries and companies she interned at.

The culmination of her internship experience came about during IVL’s Internship Camp 2022. The camp gave Hui Ling and the other IVL interns access to all leading production sites owned by the company, with the chance to meet site heads and other key stakeholders in the production sites. Through this exposure, Hui Ling developed a keen understanding of how sustainability and the Six Sigma methodology (a data-driven methodology for eliminating defects) play a key role at each of IVL’s sites.

The eye-opening camp imparted to Hui Ling a copious amount of industry and sustainability knowledge, with experiences that would have been hard to obtain anywhere else. For instance, Hui Ling was made to explore how different structures had been built to protect factories from flooding due to rising sea levels. Hui Ling also put her critical thinking skills into action, by analysing the viability and sustainability of various options.


Gateway to future career success

Hui Ling receiving the IVL Intern Badge

Hui Ling receiving the IVL Intern Badge


Having completed her internship with IVL, Hui Ling feels that the experience had opened doors to pursuing a career in sustainability within the region, beyond Singapore. She looks forward to accruing more experiences in sustainability developments in other countries and creating comprehensive, structured sustainability strategies in the future.

Reflecting on the past few months, Hui Ling shares, “Working in a foreign land at the age of 21 exposed me to many situations far beyond my imagination. I was forced to be truly independent and to rely on myself and my gut feelings whenever I encountered challenges. If you are still on the fence about doing an ASEAN internship, the only question you ought to be asking yourself is – why not?”



The ASEAN Internship Programme (AIP) is 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 an ASEAN Internship via OnTraC now.