This week we caught up with Cathy, a CMU Information Systems Junior, and took a look back at her first international internship. Cathy was in Bangalore for 2 months over the summer and it’s been incredible to hear the positive effects that her international startup experience has had on her.
Cathy secured a position with Buttercups, one of the only female run startups in Bangalore. She joined Buttercups as a Ruby on Rails developer, but then found her true love for digital marketing, blogging, and content creation, where she was inevitably inspired to change her major!
We were really interested to learn more about her journey and motivations for jumping on board the BrainGain Train and moving out to India for her summer, when she already had some great opportunities in and around her university.
Matt: Firstly, Cathy, did you have any international experience before securing a position through BrainGain?
Cathy: I am from Korea so you can say I have been studying abroad in the US for the past 7 years. I also studied in Rome, Italy last summer to get some event planning experience. As well studying abroad, my family and I love to travel throughout the States. My longest trip was when my family and I traveled to the west coast and Hawaii for three weeks as well as a lot of different road trips on the East Coast. I have also traveled to lots of countries in Southeast Asia (Japan, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam) and Western Europe. My cousin studies in London so I’ve had the opportunity to to visit England a few times.
M: Considering that you had an international childhood, was working in another country something you have wanted to do for a while or was heading back to Korea an option?
C: I always wanted to work abroad. Even though I am proud to be Korean and I love Korea, I wanted to explore other countries. I wasn’t 100% sure about my career plan before BrainGain. I was thinking about working in Singapore or Hong Kong after college so I could stay closer to my family in Korea while also speaking English.
M: What were the main reasons behind taking an internship abroad, and especially in Bangalore?
C: I wanted to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. At the same time, I wanted to work at Buttercups because I really liked the idea behind the company. Also, I didn’t have any relevant professional work experience before this, so I was very nervous.
M: What were the hardest parts about moving abroad over the summer?
C: Due to India being in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, my parents had stereotypical prejudice against India so they were a little bit worried about sending me to India. It was also financially challenging too because I had to pay for the internship and my flight ticket.
M: So once you got there, what was your initial impression?
C: To be honest, it was better than I expected. I was amazed by how modern Indiranagar (a neighbourhood in Bangalore) was. I wasn’t very worried about safety but I became more aware of how to safely navigate Bangalore after a little while there. After it got dark I only took Uber.
M: How was your work experience at Buttercups?
C: As this was my first professional experience, working was something new to me in general. However. working at a start-up was a lot of fun. I actually liked how small my company was because I could build very intimate relationships with my coworkers. They were very friendly and nice to me. They always shared their food with me and tried to tell me about the food and Indian culture in general. At the same time, sometimes I would feel isolated because English wasn’t their first language. When they chatted in Hindi/Kanadda, I was just on my computer.
M: Were there any low points during your internship?
C: Firstly, the low salary. I know it’s an emerging economy and everything IS cheap, but it can be hard to take. Also, going somewhere completely new meant I had no friends at first. Plus I wasn’t able to shop over the summer
M: And the high points?
C: I loved my time in Bangalore. I learned a lot, not just about work, but more about life and myself. I am not sure where my future destination will be but I would love to continue challenging myself. This summer was the best summer of my life. I made lots of new friends in and outside of work. It changed my perspective of life and gave me courage to finally change my major.
Much like Sarah and Stan (who we previously interviewed), Cathy has shown that it takes the right combination of mindset, skill set, and ability to adapt in order to get the most out of the experience. Cathy was able to come into one role, recognize it wasn’t something she was passionate about, and successfully transition into a new role all in 2 months time. She adapted to life in a new country, experienced life to the fullest, and now has a new perspective on where her future will take her.
Cathy is now back at CMU where she has since changed her major and has decided to pursue a career in marketing. She is now an avid Instagrammer and Zomato reviewer and is developing quite the buzz as an international foodie. She has plans to continue her international career and coming back to Bangalore is something she has discussed with us already
A big shout out and thank you to Cathy for taking the time out of her busy CMU schedule to answer our questions!
Read this article and inspired to work abroad as well? Please feel free to send us your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.