Exposure to a New (Corporate) Culture

    Even if an international student has had professional experience in their home country, it can be a challenge adjusting to the corporate pace and culture that is typical in North America. These challenges are compounded by how difficult it can be for international students to access internship opportunities in the first place. Thankfully, Cem Sagiroglu, an international postgraduate student at Canada’s Douglas College, has taken steps to make this transition easier for himself by using Micro-Internships to build familiarity with North American corporate culture.

    A New World

    When Cem and his wife moved to Canada from the Middle East, their collective world was changing in multiple ways. Not only were they adjusting to life in Canada, but shortly after arriving in Vancouver, Cem also entered the world of fatherhood when he and his wife welcomed a new addition to their family. Between his fatherly duties and his academic load, Cem didn’t have the time for a traditional internship or part-time job. That’s why, when an instructor mentioned Micro-Internships in one of his marketing classes, Cem was interested in learning more.


    Building Relationships with a Company

    Cem was selected for one of the first projects he applied for, helping a human resources team at Xylem, a leading global water technology company, clarify some gray areas within their onboarding plans by transferring everything to business process maps. While not directly related to Supply Chain Management, Cem’s area of academic focus, Cem found the experience to be beneficial.

    “Now I know more about regulations for hiring, and although that may not seem directly related to supply chain management, that’s helpful information to know for my field.”


    As Cem reaped his own benefits from the experience, the company benefitted as well, sharing the following feedback when the project was complete.

    “Cem did a fantastic job on this project. He listened and easily turned process discussions into a comprehensive list of actions and then finally flow charts that detail the work flow in a way that is easily understood. He exceeded the expectations of the project.”


    Because they appreciated Cem and his work so much, Xylem engaged him in another project, which Cem is currently in the process of finishing up. He is again broadening his knowledge in a new area. The focus of Cem’s second project has been IT, allowing Cem to develop insights about managing devices connected to a corporate environment.

    Before the fall semester came to a close, Cem applied and was selected for yet another Micro-Internship with the same company. Cem explained that, despite not having known that Xylem existed before seeing their projects on Parker Dewey, he now sought out their projects based on his positive previous experiences. Because the company is so large and the projects all so different (the third is focused on market research related to software), he’s also been able to develop relationships with professionals based in different areas.



    An Eye-Opening Experience

    While all of Cem’s Micro-Internships have had different technical focuses, they have had one important aspect in common, and that has been the way they’ve allowed Cem to get an insider view into the company culture by digging right into the projects. 

    “Usually it is hard to find a project in a traditional internship. You get onboarded and then assigned basic errands as opposed to a task. With Micro-Internships, I get to interact with senior management and then dig in. If you need help, it’s available, but you really understand your role and the scope of it.“


    Cem, who already had management experience in multinational companies from his time working in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, already knew how to manage large projects, understand motivations, and help address and achieve them. What these projects have allowed for are insights into a different work environment that have been, in Cem’s words, “essential and very valuable”.

    “These projects have been eye-openers in the way they’ve allowed me to grasp company culture, corporate language, and email etiquette in a North American company. There are lots of insights that you can get even from such a short experience. Even the way people approach the tasks and you is important to experience and learn from.”


    As of now, Cem intends to stay in North America with his family after graduating, and knows that having these experiences and context under his belt will be helpful as he continues to navigate North American corporate culture.


    Advice for International Students

    Cem encourages all students to look into Micro-Internships, but highlighted specific benefits for international students like himself. 

    “If you’re new to the region, even if you have experience like me, this is a perfect opportunity to get experience without having to secure sponsorship. You get to see how the companies work and the culture. It’s more fast-paced here and more to-the-point.”


    Cem also highlighted the benefits of these projects being short-term and deadline-driven, and encouraged his peers, “Try to get as much understanding from various organizations as you can.” In Cem's experience, doing two traditional internships at the same time is almost impossible, but has personally been able to gain insights from various departments simultaneously via multiple Micro-Internships. He encourages other students to consider doing the same if their schedules allow - perhaps even to engage multiple companies in the same semester. Although their flexibility makes them more accessible, Cem also encouraged his peers not to take these opportunities any less seriously than a traditional internship.

    "Even such small projects can open doors for great opportunities for your future."



    Advice for Companies

    For companies, Cem sees Micro-Internships as a no-risk method of tapping into the creativity of current students as well as an opportunity to identify prospective candidates for full-time roles. In Cem's words, these paid, professional projects are an effective way to “see how students are grasping the environment.”

    Great advice for all, Cem!

    If you're seeking to audition world-class talent without first having to make an investment or long-term commitment, it's easy with Micro-Internships!