Internship Experience: Wanjing Dong, International Student Intern at Syracuse University

In this “Internship Experience” blog post series, we will be featuring the profile and thoughts of our students from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management as they return from summer internships.

Name: Wanjing Dong
Graduation Year: May 2020
Major: MS in Marketing
Hometown: Shandong, China
Intern Company/Title: Syracuse University’s First Year & Transfer Programs – International Student Intern

Describe your position and some of your daily tasks?
Over the summer, I was an international student intern/office assistant in the Office for First Year and Transfer Programs at Syracuse University. My responsibilities included:

Airport Pickup Services: Updating airport pickup greeters’ schedules for both Hancock and JFK pickup services; managing Hancock pickup schedules and assigning greeters; sending emails to those who did not provide us with their contact or accommodation information; working as an “emergency contact” when greeters picked up students at midnight but didn’t know what the students’ accommodations were.

Orientation Schedules: We had 30 groups of new international students (more than 600 people) and multiple sessions including DPS Safety Trainings, Dean of Students, ELAE Exams, Health and Wellness, Immigration, Title IX (health relationships), Academic Integrity and Medical Clearance. I coordinated with my colleague who took charge of booking classrooms and made schedules for the sessions’ speakers and 30 groups of students to make sure that there were no conflicts among the sessions and that every group would attend each session.

Facilitating Contact Between Students and Parents via WeChat: Students had questions about their studies, housing, immunization hold and other questions. Parents were worried about their kids’ safety and studies. I answered many questions asked by the students on WeChat, translated some articles and information from Syracuse University’s website into Chinese, and sent the translations and related links to students and parents.

Creating Satisfaction Surveys for International Students: Using Google Forms, I made questionnaires and sent links to my supervisor. I kept updating the data and also used Excel to do some statistics and calculations on the results.

How did you land your internship?
Syracuse Job Board. I didn’t have much work experience before coming to Syracuse University, so I just wanted to start with something to gain experience in my field. I looked for somewhere I was familiar with. That’s why I chose to intern on campus.

What did you learn from your internship experience?
Coordinating and communicating with colleagues. When I worked alone, I aimed to do my work as fast as I can. When I worked with others, I needed to communicate with my colleagues to make adjustments to my work, make sure that my work matched theirs and that there was no conflicting information among what we did.

Flexibility is also essential. We had long-term tasks such as airport pickup services, as well as many short-term tasks, which were emergency issues that needed to be finished ASAP. I made schedules for my long-term tasks, but some small tasks often caused disruption to my schedules. Therefore, I sometimes needed to make my schedule more flexible.

Has your experience changed your plans or career choice when you leave college?
I planned to go back to China right after graduation, but after this internship I think it’s also possible to stay in the United States for a while. I would be able to get more work experience here. I really enjoyed my internship this summer and I hope to get more experience in working in the United States.

How will your internship experience help you after graduation?
This is the first time I worked in an American office, which is different from that of a Chinese firm. The internship experience really helped me learn more about the American working environment, which might help me with my next job (if I get one) after graduation. Personally, the internship offered me a good chance to use what I learned from school and to practice my English.

How has the Whitman School prepared you for your internship?
There were a lot of Whitman classes and skills that helped me in my internship. Excel is really useful. I was able to apply what I learned in my Excel courses and Professor Anna Chernobai’s class about data analytics and decision making.

When I designed the questionnaire, I was thinking a lot about Professor Basu’s marketing research course. In that course, I learned how to make a questionnaire and what mistakes to avoid. Plus, I learned more about how to deal with the data through my internship experience.

Although I worked as an office assistant, my work was more about students and parents. In other words, they were my customers. It was really difficult to meet everyone’s needs, but I was still trying to do so. The MSM program helped me understand in our customers’ positions and think about their problems and needs from their point of view. Sometimes their requests seemed to be ridiculous but actually, they were reasonable.

What did you enjoy most about your experience?
The working environment and atmosphere. It was easy to get along well with my colleagues and the communications were quite efficient.

Do you have any advice to students who are looking for an internship?
Try to start and prepare early. Look deeply into the job requirements and find something in common between the job and what you learn.

Kimmy Kimball