UNI student blogs about China internship

Taking chances, going out of his comfort zone, learning and becoming immersed in a different culture were key reasons why UNI master of accounting student Darrick Snitker decided to do an internship abroad. 

For the past five months, Snitker has been living in China and interning with Lianmei Machinery Co. in Dalian.  The internship opportunity with Lianmei, a firm that supplies specialty foundry parts to various companies, was established last year during a UNI faculty visit to Dalian. 

As an intern with Lianmei, Snitker has worked on a number of projects focusing on profit, quality and process-design improvements.  For one of the projects, Snitker took the lead on developing and coordinating 5S information boards to help create a leaner and more efficient work area for the factory. 

He also developed excel spreadsheets to help determine the costs of products made and for calculating payroll.  Snitker said he is currently Darrick Snitkerwriting a business scope about the potential future automation of the plant. 

An international internship in China was one of several options available to Snitker.  UNI has relationships established with other companies in China and other international internship opportunities in Europe, Mexico and Nicaragua. 

"China was probably the best place I could have gone since it's a BRIC [the combined economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China] country, and we currently import a huge amount of goods from it," he said.  "The other day, I was talking with my co-workers about how very few products are made in the U.S., and to demonstrate this, I looked at the tags of everything I had with me from my clothes to my computer and nearly all of it was made in China." 

And choosing an internship abroad was a no-brainer for Snitker.  After vacationing to Europe twice and spending time in El Salvador while a member of the Army Reserves, his experiences left him wanting more.  

Snitker said he has a strong interest in working overseas after graduation, and this internship would help him decide if being in a foreign place, thousands of miles from home, was what he wanted in terms of a future career. 

"It was an opportunity to see how other people live, what they believe and what they hope for," he said.  "It was a real opportunity to become immersed in something totally different and to learn from it."

Besides gaining hands-on work experience, Snitker said one of the most rewarding parts of his experience has been learning about the Chinese culture.

"Learning about the differences, and in many cases the similarities, of another culture on the opposite side of the world has been amazing," he said.  "I have learned a tremendous amount about the Chinese and about myself."

"Being able to meet and put a face to the people that sew my clothing, assembled my computer and cast the parts for my relatives' farm equipment has really changed the way that I look at the world.  In the end, it's wonderful realizing how we're not very different."

Snitker will return to the U.S. Aug. 15 for the start of fall classes.  He will complete his coursework and graduate in May 2011. 

Follow Snitker's internship experience in China on his blog.