Amanda at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
Amanda Cook, a senior Supply Chain Management major from Cypress, Texas, spent the past two semesters in China, studying abroad and interning at the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. She secured this internship, which lasted from March to the middle of June, after working as a congressional intern in the summer of 2015.
In addition to her study abroad experiences, Amanda has been active in many organizations throughout Texas Tech and the Rawls College, including: Women in Business, Tech Supply Chain Association, the Chinese Cultural Club, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and her sorority, Kappa Delta. She is also a research assistant for the Physiological and Neurological Imaging Laboratory (PANIL) where she researches issues regarding consumer behavior and supply chain.
Learn more about Amanda's internship experience in the Q&A below.
What were your responsibilities at the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service?
As a research associate, I was responsible for a variety of tasks. I had to report to a commercial officer, and a majority of my work involved industry research and compiling commercial guides for China. The U.S. Department of Commerce creates a business guide every year for each country and then disseminates it to U.S. companies, and I helped produce the one for China. For example, one of the projects I worked on was compiling information and market research and analysis, which was then used in the guide. I also wrote briefs for other ambassadors in the office and helped them do their jobs on a daily basis.
How did your Rawls education help you in the internship?
I think what was most interesting about my internship was how the lessons learned in college actually applied to a real-world business setting. In class we talked about how organizations work, but it was mostly hypothetical. It wasn't until I started my internships, both in China and in Washington, D.C., last summer, that I was able to see the business plans actually implemented. I also think I was lucky in a sense that I gained different industry insights with my internships. In D.C. I was working in their headquarters office, but in China I was in the field. It was interesting to see how business situations were handled and differed at each location. I got the whole scope of everything.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
What I did as an intern was relevant to both business and my education. I would say my favorite part was reading about the current issues happening in the economy, and then seeing how my office was dealing with them on a day-to-day basis. Because our office worked to promote U.S. companies in China, we had to stay current on the issues and have a strategic plan to help the companies.
What was the most challenging part of your internship and study abroad experience?
Trying to keep up with both school and the internship was challenging, and I had to really focus on my time management skills. Because I was taking 16 hours of Chinese at Peking University, coupled with working 15 to 20 hours a week at the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, I had to make sure I stayed on top of my tasks and not let myself fall behind.
How can you use this to position yourself for post-graduate success?
I think that a lot of people my age don't have international experience yet, and I feel that my international experiences gives me credibility and an advantage in the job market. I think it gives me a greater understanding of how businesses work, both locally and on an international level. I firmly believe that knowing the background of any culture is going to help immensely with business success.
What advice would you give to current students about obtaining an internship, either in America or abroad?
The most important thing you can do is network. You need to meet as many people as you can, let people know what you're interested in, and engage with them. One of the reasons I secured my internship in China was because I met a lady in my D.C. office who spoke Chinese and she mentioned to me that there was an opportunity there. I told her what I wanted to do and what I was interested in, and she helped create the contact for me.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.