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Alum Learns From Government Role in South Korea
By Summer Handzlik ’08, ’12 MBA
Fascinating. Sublime. Historical. These three words are how Danielle Rollins ’13 described her internship experience in Yeongcheon, South Korea.
Rollins left for South Korea less than a week after commencement last year and stayed in the city of Yeongcheon for six weeks.
“The first two weeks I spent working at a car manufacturing company called Shin Young. I worked in their operations and overseas department improving their English website and fixing translation errors,” Rollins shared. She also spent time working in various departments in Yeongcheon City Hall as well as the New Enterprise and Attraction Bureau, learning about free economic zones and attracting businesses to set up plants in the city. “I also had the opportunity to visit many local farms and wineries and was able to participate in natural dyeing, which is a popular way of making clothes,” Rollins explained.
The internship opportunity was coordinated by Dr. Michael Lillis, chair of the business department, and Dr. Norman Muir, undergraduate academic dean. The experience was designed to give Rollins a broad overview of the South Korean workforce and culture.
“Danielle was recommended for [the internship] by Dr. Lillis. After meeting with her, I agreed fully that she would make a good first student representative from the College. The internship opportunity itself results from Yeongcheon City’s Sister City relationship with Buffalo, my visit to the city when I was in Korea in June 2011 and a visit by the Mayor of Yeongcheon and his city government delegation to Medaille in October 2011,” explained Dr. Muir.
While at Medaille, Rollins was involved with Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and the Commons Café. “I believe that the work I did and the people I was able to interact with in those groups instilled a strong work ethic in me and gave me the confidence I needed to work in a foreign work environment,” she said.
In South Korea, Rollins stayed with a host family for six weeks. “I really enjoyed staying with my host family and I felt that I was truly immersed in the Korean culture because we ate together, we went out together, and we did a lot of activities together,” she explained.
One of the biggest things Rollins learned throughout her internship was respect for different cultures and how people live. “So many people are afraid of new things or change, but they are just limiting themselves by not exploring new opportunities. I tried anything. I had some crazy dishes, like blowfish soup, shark and I had squid cooked in every way imaginable.” She added, “I was able to talk to more than 100 students in Korea about my experience and how they can take advantage of opportunities just like I did.”
Upon her return, Rollins joined Mutual of Omaha Financial Advisors as a client service manager and is currently working on getting her life and health license.
“Yeongcheon has graciously agreed to continue this opportunity for Medaille student internships in City Hall and with companies and organizations in the area,” said Dr. Muir, who will promote this unique, life-changing internship as well as other study abroad opportunities available to Medaille undergraduate students.
The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.