Taiwan internship both a
return home and a step
into the unknown

Falina Tsai describes learning more about her place of birth and gaining new skills and friends while on an Asia New Zealand Foundation internship at the Taiwan USA Industrial Cooperation Promotion Office (TUSA) in Taipei.

I decided I wanted to do something different during my last summer as a student. I was contemplating on whether I wanted to do a big O.E or gain some work experience, and was fortunate enough to find and get accepted to do an Asia New Zealand Foundation internship in Taiwan – where I was able to do both!

Falina: "Prior to my internship, I thought work life in Taiwan would be really strict and formal, but my time at TUSA definitely changed my perspective."

Although I was born in Taiwan, I grew up in New Zealand - having only visited Taiwan every few years. Therefore, my knowledge of my home country was limited and, being a management student, I was extremely curious to see what the work life would be like.

The workplace environment

On my first day of work at TUSA my supervisor and two other group leaders sat me down for a brief talk, where they introduced themselves and welcomed me to the team.

They asked me about what I wanted to learn from the internship and provided me with the tasks and assignments that I would be doing during my time there. This was great as I was able to voice what I hoped to learn, as well as prepare myself for what was expected of me.

The work I did was very diverse - ranging from researching, helping organise events, meeting with clients, and managing the company website, which make for great learning experiences for any commerce student. I also got to immerse myself in many formal meetings, discussions, presentations, as well as participate in events and conferences that were held by TUSA. 

Prior to my internship, I thought work life in Taiwan would be really strict and formal, but my time at TUSA definitely changed my perspective. The people at TUSA were really welcoming - organising a lunch for me at a local restaurant in the first week was a really nice way to be introduced to the team. My colleagues soon became more like a family than workmates.

Falina says the work environment at TUSA " felt more like a family than workmates."

One of my most memorable experiences was participating in a formal meeting with Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs, as well as other Taiwanese government officials. It was interesting to see how formal-meetings ran and sitting in on these discussions was a real eye opener. I was surprised I got to experience them, being a little intern from New Zealand.

What was also different was attending off-site meetings, where we would go out to a planned location to explore and learn about the place. During tea-breaks we would invite a co-worker to present and share a topic they wanted. I thought this was a great way to bond with co-workers and further develop my knowledge of Taiwan’s history and culture.

Exploring Taiwan with fellow interns

Apart from the work itself, exploring Taiwan was another one of my highlights. What made it more convenient was how late the shops open till – even after work there was always time to go to a night market and do some more exploring.

I was also fortunate enough to be able to explore with the other Asia New Zealand Foundation interns that were in Taiwan at the time. We travelled to many cities and explored plenty of tourist attractions, such as visiting the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, where we learned a lot about the history of Taiwan.

Exploring Taiwan with fellow Asia New Zealand Foundation interns was a highlight of Falina's time in Taiwan

The three months I spent in Taiwan helped me learn and grow as a person. I got to experience and develop new skills at work, improve my Chinese, learn more about the culture and heritage, as well become more independent.

It was a life-changing experience that I will never forget and I would strongly recommend this internship to anyone.

Falina has a Bachelor of Management Studies majoring in accounting and human resource management at the University of Waikato. Tsai is a treasurer at Waikato University’s Amnesty International group. She works with her parents on their orchid farm near Hamilton helping them to manage the business. Tsai will intern with Taiwan USA Industrial Cooperation Promotion Office (TUSA) in Taipei.