Taiwan internship
inspires career rethink

Two months into her three-month internship in Taiwan, Tina Wei says her experiences have made her want to pursue a career in tech and help New Zealand advance its smart technology and AI industries.
Tina standing in front of a TUSA sign

Tina says the insights she has gained on her internship have encouraged her to pursue a career in technology-related trade.

I came prepared for winter with winter coats only to realise that winter in Taiwan is much warmer than our summer back home. Temperatures have dropped a bit now but it’s still very comfortable.

I work at TUSA, which is an office under the Ministry of Economic Affairs that deals with Taiwan USA industrial trade cooperation and promotion.

Our office is affiliated with the biggest technological research institute in Taiwan called ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute).

As someone with no engineering background, the first week was definitely overwhelming. People speak English but there was so much jargon it felt like a foreign language. However, an upside to being affiliated with ITRI is that I have experts who can help around me all the time.

Tina with a friend holding animal balloons at a market

Tina found doing extracurricular activities like volunteering was a good way to make new friends and practice her Chinese language skills

I was lucky enough to a have a manager who sat down with me to explain the basics of our key projects and industries.

The main industries we work in include Smart Machinery, Green Technology, IoT (the Internet of Things), BioMed, and IC (intergrated circuit) design alongside Semi-Conductors.

Some of my work highlights so far include being part of organising an international forum for the smart machinery industry (autonomous vehicles, intelligent robots, and supply chain programs) and assisting delegations of US legislative leaders visiting Taiwan.

The people that I have been able to meet and interact with through this internship have given me an invaluable experience and global connections.

Aside from these bigger events, my day to day jobs include analysing and updating information on the business environment in USA for Taiwanese investors and creating company profiles of local producers who want assistance with foreign investment or foreign partnerships.

Being able to speak Chinese as well as English has given me the opportunity to be involved in a range of projects that cover many different areas of expertise.

I have a very welcoming office and we go out for lunch together every day. This is always a good opportunity to practice my Chinese and understand the culture in more depth.

My colleagues are also determined to show me a different restaurant or food every day; so far we have managed five weeks without visiting the same place.

However, as my work colleagues are all older than me and have their own routines and families, on some weekends I do volunteering, which is another way to meet new people and is a very good opportunity to practise Chinese.

The charity I ended up working with is called Hongdao. It’s purpose is to help the elderly living alone in less fortunate conditions.

Besides volunteering, I have also been attending Japanese language workshops held at the National Taiwan University to meet more friends outside of work

Tina with friends on a street adorned with lanterns

Tina out with friends in Taiwan's capital city, Taipei

My time here has made me want to pursue a career in technology-related trade. In New Zealand I believe we have yet to realise the capabilities of some of the technologies over here.

My passion lies in doing further research upon returning home to determine whether smart technology and AI can help with some of the labor shortages we have in New Zealand.

It's amazing how much I've experienced and learned in the time I've been here.