Ben (far left) socialising with colleagues
For an island of a similar size as my home region of Otago, with a population about six times that of all of New Zealand, the first thing that struck me about Taiwan might surprise you. As I was whisked from the airport towards the metropolis of Taipei, I remember thinking in disbelief, 'it’s so green!'
Having spent some time in Asia before, I presumed that the trip into the city would be comparable to other large cities around the world – fairly nondescript, often industrial, and certainly nothing to base your view of a place on.
In contrast, the road into Taipei proved to be almost a perfect microcosm of what Taiwan is all about. Despite being tasked with fitting a huge population into a seemingly preposterously small landmass, Taiwan manages this with aplomb, blending their traditional culture and amazing nature perfectly into the modern cityscapes.
Ben was amazed at how easy it is to get out of the city and into nature (Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash)
I have later discovered that this accessibility of greenery extends to the city itself, and you’re never more than a short subway ride away from lush tea-growing valleys or seaside towns, if you’re in need of some fresh air.
Beyond its nature, the one thing that Taiwan has an international reputation for is food; Taipei in particular is often cited as the street food capital of the world.
The night markets in Taipei dominate the street level landscape, and you’re guaranteed to never be more than a stone’s throw away from something truly delicious (if slightly unfamiliar) on a stick.
ANZCO Foods is one of New Zealand’s largest exporting companies, though is often unknown to those from outside of the heartland of New Zealand. They export red meat and other associated agricultural products across the world, and their Taipei office manages exports throughout the Greater China region (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China).
The Taipei office is comprised of a small team of just four full-time staff, and a couple of part-time support workers. However, given the high profile of the company, it’s far from being a quiet gig. Phones are constantly ringing, and on any given day you can expect to hear at least four languages bouncing around the office.
Of course, being an intern in such a small, active organisation has been a fantastic opportunity to broaden my skill set.
Naturally, when the accounts and sales departments of your office are one person apiece, there’s not much of an opportunity to hide away at your desk and slack off.
My role here has been greatly varied, from assisting with and making recommendations to the logistical admin taking place in the Taiwan office, to running delivery services for local customers (predominantly high-end retailers), as well as attending trade events and expos to promote the ANZCO brand abroad.
The internship was a great opportunity to hone my current skills as well as acquire new ones that cannot be learnt in a lecture hall. I feel this experience has neatly complimented my tertiary studies, and better prepared me for a professional working environment.
For any prospective interns considering applying to ANZCO Foods, or any internship, there’s a few pieces of advice I’d like to give:
Ben says to make the most of an internship you've got to get out and experience as much of the local culture as possible
Don’t let the time fly by. Three months isn’t all that long, and goes by especially quickly if you get stuck into a familiar pattern.
Trying new things, be that in a professional environment or something as little as a new local food, can never hurt, and will only help you grow as an individual.
Don’t be afraid to learn, and most importantly use, the local language. While the average level of spoken English in Taipei is amazing, you’ll always get a few smiles and guaranteed better service if you order in Mandarin, no matter how basic it may seem to you.