AIESEC is an international youth organisation that focuses on leadership development in youths through cross-cultural global exchanges. One of such exchanges is the Global Entrepreneurship programme where youths embark on a 6-13 weeks internship opportunity at a Start-up in over 120 countries.
Wei Xian, a Year 2 Business Administration Student majoring in Accountancy, with a strong passion for self-development had decided to go on a Global Entrepreneur (GE) Programme that was offered by AIESEC.
Throughout his Entrepreneurship experience in Indonesia, he had been working as a Business Development Intern under VEXANIUM FOUNDATION LTD - specializing in decentralized marketing ecosystem and Indonesia Public Blockchain. He chose to go with this specific opportunity as he believed that being able to stay in another country and work for an extended period of time would be interesting and further develop himself, explore his full potential. Impressed with the determination, we managed to arrange an interview with him to find out more about the insights he obtained from his journey.
Q-How was the learning journey while working with people from diverse cultures and nationalities? Please share your experiences, achievements and projects you have worked on.
I think the most distinctive fact about the company is that it is a startup, and Indonesia is a big country, so some of my colleagues were actually from another part of Indonesia and they had to sleep in the office, just like I did. And this is really cool because I was with them 24 hours a day and it made us really close. We would go out, eat, and do things together. On top of that, I felt that generally, the colleagues there shared a closer personal relationship than in Singapore.
Also, it turned out that after I had been there for a few weeks, the company also took in 2 other interns under the same GE programme. One of them was from Vietnam and another was from Taiwan, who was supposed to take over after I completed my internship. I think I once had a conversation with the Taiwanese guy where we discussed about our work ethics. And I remember he said that he felt Taiwanese were more indirect in their method of dealing with differences in opinions or conflicts while he felt that I was more direct and straight to the point. Other than that, we also had quite some interesting chats about what was happening in each other’s countries, etc.
Q-Any major challenges/ obstacles that you had to overcome or achieved?
Since the company was a startup and I was given the task to explore a new area in B2B sales where the company had not yet tried before, it was challenging for sure. But damn, it was exciting as well! Personally, I did not do any sales or B2B sales before, but my experience in dealing with external relations at the committee level in AIESEC gave me some skills which I could apply in B2B sales, like communication, introducing, and pushing a partnership or in this case, a product. At the same time, my direct supervisor also gave me enough autonomy and freedom to make decisions and maintained open communication with me so I was also able to give feedback to him regarding some of the problems that were outside my area of expertise and control (like product pricing, etc.). Together, we were able to overcome most of the challenges.
Q-What are some key takeaways from the programme in terms of skills and otherwise?
I think the most obvious one here is the hard skill of sales, how to offer information in a way that people find it relevant to them and how to talk to customers (and in this case, other decision makers in other companies), understand their pain points, and also developing the creativity to be able to tweak and mix the products in a way that can best solve their problem.
For soft skills, I mostly learnt how to be patient and yet persistent in my effort. I also learnt how to deal with the idea that I am a foreigner and that I am different from the people there. Sometimes this means being able to adapt to their culture, but still retaining something that is distinctively Singaporean.
Q-What are your most memorable experience?
I think the most memorable one was my first day there. I reached the airport in Jakarta at around 430pm but the queue at immigration took almost 1 entire hour. After that, two AIESECers came and we were supposed to go to the office on their car, but we were jammed in the airport carpark for almost 2 hours because the traffic in Indonesia, in general, is very bad.
And I remember that once, we were supposed to go travelling to some mountaintop, but it was on a weekend and there was so many people using that same route that they changed a two way route into a one way. But even that did not totally solved the traffic jam. In the end, the Go-Jek driver who was driving us decided to just drop us off at the midway to the mountaintop because it was totally jammed and the cars were moving too slowly. Then we decided to walk to another waterfall nearby. By the time we were done, it was near nightfall, there was no Grab or GoJek already. And we started to panic because we may just end up being stranded there. Still, we started to walk down and kept each other company, and tried to flag some cars that were driving by. Luckily, one of them was kind enough to let us hitchhike, so it was quite cool but definitely something I will never forget.
Wei Xian and his team celebrating his birthday
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