Intern gains hands-on experience of Philippines renewable energy sector

Thirteen years ago, Auckland University engineering student Krychelle Espinosa left the Philippines with her family and moved to New Zealand. She returned over the recent University summer break to take up an internship with renewable energy company Alternergy Holdings Corporation, an opportunity she describes as "a journey of personal growth". In this article, Krychelle describes her internship and what made the experience so special.
Krychelle wearing hi-vis jacket and hardhat in front of a small hydropower plant under construction

Krychelle visiting Alternergy’s Run-Of-River Project construction site in Ueva Ecija province

An overseas internship is like an adventure, offering a unique blend of learning, professional growth, and personal exploration.

My decision to pursue a business internship in Manila, Philippines, was driven by a desire to learn about the business environment there reconnect with my cultural heritage.

Having moved to New Zealand with my family thirteen years ago, the opportunity to return to my home country and immerse myself in my culture, familial bonds, and professional landscape was something I could not let pass.

The Philippines is an archipelago facing many challenges because of natural disasters that worsen due to climate change.

As an engineer passionate about making a difference, working in a country at the frontline of environmental challenges was both a professional goal and a personal mission.

My business internship was with Alternergy, a company pioneering renewable energy in the Philippines.

I researched and participated in various wind, hydro, and solar projects throughout my three-month internship. It allowed me to merge my academic background in Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as Global Studies with my keen interest in sustainability.

This hands-on experience provided a practical understanding of the complexities and challenges in the renewable energy sector.

Krychelle recieving a gift from a man in the Alternergy office

Krychelle with the co-founder and President of Alternergy Holdings Corporation, Magbanua

The work environment at Alternergy was a testament to Filipinos' renowned hospitality and kindness.

The company prioritises the well-being of its employees, evident through its recent launch of a wellness programme tackling mental health concerns, a typically taboo topic in the Philippines.

Weekly initiatives such as complimentary lunches on Mondays and efforts to foster social wellness underscore the company's commitment to its workforce.

The support and welcome I received from colleagues and the company made my internship an enjoyable and unforgettable experience.

An internship abroad is not just a professional engagement; it is a journey of personal growth, cultural immersion, and an invaluable chance to contribute to a cause greater than oneself.

A highlight of my internship was visiting the various project sites.

The most memorable work trip was to Nueva Ecija, my mother's home province.

The site visit at the ongoing construction of Alternergy’s Run-Of-River Project was an exciting experience as we drove across the river several times in a 4WD vehicle.

These work trips showed me how great of an impact the projects can make on the communities.

Join Krychelle on a visit of a hydropower scheme in the mountains in Nueva Ecija province

Not only did such experiences bring to life the theoretical concepts I had studied, but they also emphasized the vital role of community engagement in sustainable development.

Living in the bustling heart of Makati, the business district of Manilla with many high-rise buildings, was unlike anything you could experience in New Zealand.

The lively atmosphere of a busy, business-centric city had the streets full of office workers on weekdays and the shopping malls packed on weekends.

In my free time, I reconnected with relatives, providing a rich tapestry of experiences outside my professional internship.

I had many memorable experiences, like meeting my three-year-old niece for the first time, attending concerts with my cousin and travelling around Luzon.

From exploring the mountainous landscapes of Baguio to the surf towns of La Union, my journey was as much about personal discovery as it was about professional growth.

Returning to the Philippines after years abroad, I was in awe of the vibrant culture, the warmth of the people, and the nostalgic connections to my childhood.

This immersive experience enriched my appreciation of Filipino culture and cemented my connection to a country that still felt like home, despite years of living abroad.

However, living there for an extended period of time made me see the country in a new light.

It opened my eyes to the stark realities of life in the Philippines, from the prevalent social and political issues concerning poverty and corruption.

These experiences deepened my understanding of my homeland's challenges and reinforced my resolve to contribute positively to its future.

Reflecting on my internship, I am now more confident in my ability to navigate and contribute to the professional landscape in Asia.

Krychelle standing on a beach with her bother and cousins

Interning in the Philippines provided an opportunity for Krychelle to catch up with family and reconnect with her Filipino culture

My time with Alternergy has equipped me with new knowledge and understanding of renewable energy, which is valuable for my professional journey.

For those considering a similar path, I wholeheartedly recommend giving such opportunities a shot.

An internship abroad is not just a professional engagement; it is a journey of personal growth, cultural immersion, and an invaluable chance to contribute to a cause greater than oneself.

In a world that increasingly values global perspectives, the insights and experiences gained from such ventures are irreplaceable.

Krychelle is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Engineering (Honors) specialising in civil engineering and a Bachelor of Global Studies. 

The Foundation's business programme supports New Zealand companies to better understand Asia so they can make the most of opportunities in the region. We are also focussed on growing the next generation of Asia-savvy business leaders.

Our internship programme helps interns build a better understanding of the people, place and culture of their Asian host country, while developing industry-specific skills that will benefit them as they progress in their careers.