In St. Regis Bangkok, on my first-ever business trip for a company event! So exciting!
Personalised name tag!
For some context, NM3350C, also known as the Compulsory Internship Programme (CIP) is a capstone of the Department of Communications and New Media. All student majoring in CNM will undertake a period of industry placement to induct and orientate themselves to their future careers, with the support and guidance of the CNM CIP Team.
Yes, NM3550C is that compulsory internship module all CNM majors have to take in order to graduate. It probably seems like a “get it over and done with” module, one that we all have to get through.
That’s how I felt initially, especially with the routine task of applying for internships on LinkedIn and TalentConnect, uploading your resume, rounds of stress-inducing interviews, and anxiously waiting for some good news… And sometimes, you won’t even get a response.
On the contrary, this internship experience is and continues to be one of the key milestones in my university life.
Singapore (and one Vietnam) colleagues with the emcee!
Not only was I blessed with an amazing company, one with a lovely and close-knit work culture and community, but this October, I also got the chance to travel! I still remember asking my supervisor how I would profile overseas events, and feeling shocked and excited when he told me that I’d be joining them for the Bangkok trip!
To give a brief overview, I am interning as a Marcom and Editorial intern at Corning Incorporated, a 170-year-old materials science company based in Corning, New York. Corning has 5 business units- Display Technologies, Optical Communications, Environmental Technologies, Specialty Materials, and Life Sciences. The glass on your iPhones, Apple watches, and even Samsung television screens are all from Corning!
Fast forward to the business trip itself, we headed to Bangkok for a company event, to introduce our technologies to the Bangkok market. This event is known as Corning Technology Day.
Corning Technology Day was a one-stop singular destination for attendees in Bangkok to explore a wide array of innovative solutions, ranging from our different business units.
I was part of the entire planning process- from the ideation, planning of hotels, event and booth set-ups, lucky draws, registration, and collecting photographs and videos for publicity.
My colleagues and I at the registration booth!
This was an extremely eye-opening experience for me, and here are my takeaways:
1. Independence is power
This was my first ever business trip, at just 21 years of age. Undeniably, I felt anxious about how it would turn out. It was not one of those usual trips where I was with my friends or loved ones, but with people I actually work with in a professional setting.
This trip taught me about the power of independence, something that I treasure greatly.
I’ve had my fair share of experiences that consistently developed my independence, such as navigating countries on my own, and staying on campus at university, but this trip really made me step out of my comfort zone.
When you go on friend and family trips, you can always check in with each other, down to the tiniest of details. This time, however, I was on my own. I think I went over my packing list a good 20 times before I decided to zip up my luggage and head to the airport, just to make sure I really had everything I needed.
Excited for my adventure!
They had my favourite sitcom on the plane! Definitely helped to calm my nerves. (Have rewatched this nearly 8 times...)
Once I arrived at the airport, I no longer had an “airport dad” with me to make sure our passports and boarding passes were on us all the time, to reach the boarding gate 1 hour earlier, and to board safely.
Surprisingly, it turned out better than I thought, and soon after, I found myself sitting on the plane seat, listening to music, and creating a million scenarios on how this company event would play out (just overthinker things).
As the plane touched down, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement and apprehension that comes with embarking on a new journey.
In fact, independence, I realised, is not just about self-reliance, but also about adaptability. In a new environment, you have to quickly learn to read signs, social cues, and especially on a work trip, put your best foot forward at all times. While it was clear that the dynamics were different from our usual work environment, we had to adapt to this new setting and establish a professional balance between camaraderie and maintaining a sense of professionalism. I realised the difference during the event itself and outside the event, and that was really refreshing.
My first-ever business trip was a pivotal moment in my life that exemplified the power of independence. It is indeed, a valuable asset that continues to shape my professional and personal life.
2. Networking can be fun
In the professional world, networking is mostly perceived as a daunting task, involving formal meetings, exchanging business cards, and maintaining a level of professionalism. However, this trip showed me that networking can also be enjoyable and rewarding.
As an intern, I found it interesting to not only speak but listen to the conversations that my colleagues have with other professionals in the field. Picking up their conversation styles, the way they hold conversations, and interpersonal skills, it felt like a learning journey, as I continuously sought to improve and find my own communication style.
Not only did I get to network with my colleagues, I also spoke to the Thai attendees who came for our event. It was really eye-opening getting to know the companies they came from and understand their work.
A very successful event with over 100 attendees!
It was a day of technological exchange and conversation. The theme of the event was to pave the way for Thailand’s Digital Transformation 5.0 initiative, which was a clear mission to accelerate the country’s journey into the next phase of digital evolution. More specifically, the fiber cables from Corning that we introduced to the market were intricately linked to the idea of connecting, communicating, and networking with individuals.
It was exciting knowing that our products were making a difference in the world, and getting to network with people from all walks of life.
3. Give yourself breaks!
In the midst of the preparation for the event, it is crucial to remember that breaks are necessary for maintaining productivity and well-being. While this business trip was primarily focused on the event, there were many moments of relaxation and exploration by myself and with my colleagues. I honestly had way more fun than I had expected, and am very thankful for the experiences and bonds being forged and deepened throughout.
One of my favourite days was my solo adventure on the last day. It felt especially rewarding and rejuvenating after the completion of the event. Here are some photos!
Spa time, resting my legs after a day of walking in heels...
Went to look for smiskis and sonny angels to feed my addiction...
Had this gigantic ebi prawn!
Can you believe this is a photobooth?
The hotel gave us these cute Halloween desserts!
4. Friendships can go beyond the workplace
On a business trip, you spend a significant amount of time with your colleagues, and these shared experiences can often lead to friendships that extend beyond the workplace. During the trip, I was given the opportunity to bond with my colleagues in a more relaxed and informal setting. Many of them also told me to see them as “friends".
We shared laughter, memories, and experiences. My favourite memory would be shopping with my colleagues! It felt refreshing, and it definitely added a dimension of warmth to our working relationships. I find myself feeling more comfortable with more of them back in the Singapore office!
Shopping with my fellow "Shopaholic" colleagues :)
5. Keep learning and growing
This experience has definitely broadened my perspectives. From understanding how a corporate event works to growing as an individual, you’ll never know until you try. The journey and process were far more enjoyable and less scary than I had imagined.
The dynamic nature of the experience reinforced the idea that growth stems from embracing change and stepping outside one's comfort zone. The journey, which initially seemed intimidating, turned into a source of pride and gratitude.
As I look back on the past month, this internship module has become a pivotal chapter in my university life—a chapter marked by resilience, newfound friendships, and a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development. I’ll always be grateful for this opportunity!
Missing the beautiful hotel :) Would do it all over again.