I’ve given this presentation several times over the past 3 months so I figured it was about time I posted it on here as well. The following is a VERY BRIEF overview of my internship and some of my experiences in Hong Kong this past summer as part of the Ontario Global Edge program.
For those who don’t know, the Ontario Global Edge (OGE) program is an initiative provided by the Ontario government for sending students overseas on work and study placements. I am fortunate to be attending the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), one of only a handful of schools in Ontario who participate in this program. UOIT primarily sends students to Hong Kong and Germany for their OGE placements. As mentioned above, I went to Hong Kong for my internship so I will be focusing on that for the purposes of this post.
These placements are 8 week, unpaid work terms but trust me, the experience of being able to work in Hong Kong far outweighs the fact that it is unpaid. With that being said, it is not truly unpaid per-say. The OGE initiative pays for your round trip flight to Hong Kong, they pay for your housing while in Hong Kong and they provide students with a $700/month stipend for living expenses which is enough to live on in Hong Kong. If you really watch your budget and don’t really do any travelling outside of Hong Kong, you will essentially break even by the end of the summer. However I did a lot of travelling so I did not come anywhere close to breaking even (that may be a little bit irresponsible, especially from a student financial perspective but hey, YOLO).
Alright so I guess the first thing I will talk about is my actual internship placement. As a participant of the OGE program, all students that UOIT sends to Hong Kong work at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP). The HKSTP is an incubator so it primarily consists of startup companies. The goal of having students work here is to get them interested in entrepreneurship by exposing them to a startup environment.
In the science park I worked at a company called PSP Security. This company makes facial recognition biometric devices (called AccuFACE) for access control (as seen in the image above). It is a very small company comprised of 6 employees which was quite a different experience from what I was used to previously working in companies consisting of thousands of people. I did like the small environment because (at least from my perspective) it allowed them to be more agile in terms of the work they did and there wasn’t the typical red tape and politics that you tend to find when working in larger companies.
At PSP Security my primary task was developing an Android app for controlling the AccuFACE devices remotely via your Android device. A big part of doing an internship overseas is that it helps you grow as an individual especially in terms of taking you outside your comfort zone. From living, to working, to language barriers, there are a ton of experiences that have helped me grow by forcing me to step outside my comfort zone. The work I did at PSP was no different. On the first day I received the task of creating this Android app, however I had never done any Android programming, never done any Java programming (other than very minimal work), and I had never done any kind of programming where you are communicating with an entity over the network. As you can imagine, this was a very intimidating project and to make matters worse, when I received the assignment I was told “you should be able to have most of it done by the end of the week”. WHAT! Suddenly I had to learn some complex programming structures all inside of a week. But hey it was all part of the experience and while I did not finish it that week, I did complete most of the required aspects of the app by the end of the placement which was a huge learning opportunity for myself and one which I feel I have benefited from greatly while also providing something of use to the company.
I also had the unique opportunity to work at not only one but two companies in the HKSTP. In addition to PSP Security, I also worked at Master Dynamic (MD), a company that makes micro parts/electronics for devices like watches. Here my job was related to network administration. The company was implementing a new security network and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. As such I had to redesign their network topology to support these new systems. As part of that job I researched several small business routers such as those from Cisco and proposed the one which the company should use for this upgrade. The primary part of my job at MD involved setting up these new routers to support the companies multi-ISP connections as well as a VPN between the two floors of the company (since there was no direct connection between both floors). This too was an awesome learning experience especially since it relates perfectly to my studies at UOIT. It was great to be able to put some of the theory learned in class to use in a real life situation.
As I mentioned above, a big part of the Global Edge program is on entrepreneurship. I have always had a particular interest in starting my own business one day once I graduate and working in Hong Kong has really opened my eyes to the possibilities available overseas. I’ve always contemplating starting a business here in Canada but I never gave much thought to do it in a country like Hong Kong, boy was I wrong.
Being that I am a technology enthusiast and in an IT program, it only makes sense that I would want to start a company in the tech field. Working in Hong Kong I have come to realize the support that is available to start-ups in the technology sector. The manufacturing industry in Hong Kong is much like it is here in Ontario where it has all but disappeared these past several years. In Hong Kong most manufacturing has moved to China where they can lower their costs. As a result Hong Kong’s economy is in decline. However their government has responded by increasing their focus on technology and R&D. The Hong Kong government is pumping a lot of money in to these areas to strengthen their economy once again. The HKSTP is one such initiative that is heavily funded by the government.
The science park provides amazing resources to start-up companies such as those mentioned in the “Starting a business in Hong Kong” section of the image above.
As a result of my experiences in Hong Kong, I now have several entrepreneurial ventures of my own underway. First of all I started my own web hosting company, Virtualized Cloud Solutions, where I provide free web hosting services and am currently hosting over 70+ websites. I also have plans to create two Android apps, one that can control lights and computers using my Android phone and another that is a sort of social media application with facial recognition integration. The app for controlling lights and devices is one that I’ve wanted to make for a long time but I never knew how to make Android apps. After my work experience this summer I now have the Android experience to make it. Also due to my working at PSP Security I had the idea for the facial recognition app.
A big part of my experience in Hong Kong was travelling to other places and countries. Every weekend I was in another country or doing sightseeing of some sort around Hong Kong. During my nine weeks abroad I visited the following countries and cities:
- Hong Kong (obviously)
When people ask what my favorite part of the trip was, it’s a very hard question to answer as you can see by that list of all the amazing places I visited. However if I had to pick just one I’d say it would have to be visiting Beijing and the Great Wall of China. Ever since we are little, we learn and hear about the Great Wall but to actually travel there, walk on the wall and experience the culture that is thousands of years old is something out of this world. It was truly an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
That’s about it for this very brief overview of my 9 week internship and trip to Hong Kong. My closing advice to anyone who has the opportunity to take part in the OGE program, or an international opportunity of any kind would be to just do it. It took me quite a few months to finally decide to do it because I wanted to make money during the summer but looking back now I would do it again in a heartbeat and I don’t regret it for a second.
Sure, not making money in the summer sucks but the few dollars that I would make as a student pales in comparison to the experiences gained from spending a summer living and working in a country like Hong Kong. In addition, the experience looks amazing on the resume and besides, when else are you going to get a 9-week all expense paid trip to Hong Kong! So if you are ever given an opportunity like this just do it! Don’t even think about it, just do it! It was truly an experience of a lifetime and definitely the best summer of my life!