My name is Jacky Lee. I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I studied Commerce at the Sauder School of Business. There were various reasons why I applied for the Global Internship Program at AIESEC. First, before I went to Canada, I worked for an AIESEC local chapter in Hong Kong in the area of Incoming Exchange. To an AIESECer, going on exchange through AIESEC is to complete the whole AIESEC Experience. Therefore, going on exchange through AIESEC was always in my mind even when I was studying at UBC. The other reason why I wanted to go on exchange is that I always want to expand my horizon. I believe that having a more diverse and international experience will help me succeed in my future career, particularly in the field of international business and management.
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to be selected by Vale, one of the largest mining companies in the world, to participate in its Canada Sourcing Program. It is a year long program, with eight months in Brazil, and four months in Canada, with an intention to hire the participates for its full time position. To me, it was a perfect opportunity. My traineeship was with the IT department. I was the IT Business Partner Analyst, and my responsibility is to establish and manage relationships between internal clients and the IT department in Vale.
After eight months in Brazil, I believe I have gained a lot from the experience. First, I have developed my Portuguese. Vale provided everyone in the program 100 hours of professional language training throughout the eight months. In the beginning, in order to speed up the learning process, I practise my Portuguese with my colleague at work.
Apart from the development of the language, I also had a taste of Brazilian culture. Before I went to Brazil, I was in Japan finishing my UBC academic exchange. There was a big contrast between the Japanese culture and the Brazilian culture. Brazilians are very open-minded and put a lot of emphasis on relationships with people. Therefore, at work, someone outside of my team would spend a long time talking to me and offering help. Also, Brazilians drink a lot. The city I worked in is called Belo Horizonte, and I heard it had the highest number for bar per capita in Brazil. The food in Brazil was awesome. I particularly love “Churrasco”, which is the Brazilian barbecue. On my last day in Belo Horizonte, my colleague brought me to a “Churrascaria”, which is a all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue restaurant. I do not think I can find the similar thing elsewehere.
I was also very lucky to be in Brazil during the Carnival. The Carnival is an official one-week-long holiday in Brazil. For the Carnival, I went to Rio, and there were parties everywhere in the city. The people were dancing and drinking. I also went to watch the parade of the Samba school. I was impressed by how Brazilian people enjoyed themselves during the parade. They danced on the audience stand, and cheered for their favorite Samba schools.
In terms of professional knowledge, Vale has been very supportive in developing my knowledge in mining. In the first month and a half, we had a training program, focusing on basic knowledge of mining and leadership. We went to an old town called Ouro Preto and attended the School of Mines there. We also had visits to different open-pit mines, plants and ports. You cannot imagine how large a mine is until you see a real one! We had a chance to see one of the largest trucks on the planet. The visits were all eye-opening experiences. All of these experiences helped equip my knowledge in mining, and was highly beneficial to my work and my future career.
To conclude, I think my overall exchange experience was a very meaningful one. The local AIESEC offered me an opportunity to participate in its events, and that reminded me the memories I had in AIESEC. The whole experience is just reinforcing my desire to keep on going to different places, trying to work on different things and expanding my horizon. I am very glad that I have applied for the exchange program.
– Jacky Lee