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Advertising major studies and interns in Vietnam

Aug 16, 2019

Posted in: News

Taylor Burress, Communications Intern

Kevin Nguyen, Savills intern
Kevin Nguyen studied and interned in Vietnam.

It's been a busy summer for senior, creative and strategic advertising major Kevin Nguyen, who has been in Vietnam since the end of May. Nguyen’s summer semester began with a study abroad trip to Da Nang, Vietnam where he then relocated to complete an internship as the marketing and communications intern at Savills in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Nguyen’s plans to study and intern overseas began with an email about the Robertson School’s opportunity to study abroad in Vietnam.

“Being Vietnamese myself, I immediately gravitated towards it and then started looking at internships in Vietnam,” said Nguyen. “I was set on going on that study abroad trip and then staying after to find an internship.”

Nguyen began researching study abroad programs which often include costs for travel, hotels and meals. To help offset these costs VCU also offers scholarships to study abroad applicants. Nguyen applied to the Baldacci Student Experiential Learning Scholarship, available to rising juniors or rising seniors in good academic standing, who are majors in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The award helps students pursue internships, research, social entrepreneurship opportunities, attend conferences and to be able to go on domestic or study abroad trips. He was named the recipient of the scholarship in March.

“I immediately called my parents and was like 'I'm going to Vietnam!” Nguyen said. 

After the news of his scholarship, he started applying to internships in Vietnam. A family friend lead him to Savills, an international real estate investment and development company in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen wanted to intern with an organization that could offer him a long-term career opportunity here in the U.S. after graduation. After a bit of online research, he found a Savills branch in Washington D.C. and contacted them directly.

“My mentality was that if I get this position, I could do a really good job and then make a connection and hopefully come back to the U.S. with the ability to get a job with Savills DC,” said Nguyen.

After applying to multiple internships, he received two offers. One of them was from Savills.  

“I felt like I would be given more freedom to learn and grow [at Savills] … and I get to work with multi-million-dollar real estate and luxury fashion malls, it’s awesome,” said Nguyen. “I felt like this was really the perfect place for me to spend the rest of my summer after the study abroad program in Da Nang.”

Since taking on his internship role, Nguyen has been in charge of writing press releases and content for social media. However, on Nguyen's first day he learned the person responsible for the English language content was going on vacation, leaving Nguyen the responsibilities of writing and editing all of the English language content in the region.

“Balancing those responsibilities with my existing responsibilities for social media and the press releases at first were difficult, but there was so much overlap that it helped me create a schedule easily,” said Nguyen. “I’ve been learning a lot of ways to be creative and interesting while also staying within the limitations set for us by Vietnam’s government and the guidelines established by Savills.”

Nguyen has held past internships before in various fields like financial consulting, online news media, luxury retail and interior design.

“This one internship has found a way to merge all of that into one,” he said. 

Nguyen's most memorable experience at Savills was The Quarterly Market Research Event, which he helped coordinate while meeting people from different countries. He also presented content in Vietnamese and English in front of peers at the end of the event.

“It was nerve-racking and terrifying, because I had to speak in front of over 500 people, for 10 minutes in two languages (5 minutes in English, 5 minutes in Vietnamese),” said Nguyen. “Seeing the whole thing come to fruition is something that I’ll always be proud of.”

Nguyen's advice for anyone thinking of interning abroad is to be honest about your capabilities.

“You’re interning abroad, people aren’t going to expect you to know everything, so ask as many questions that you need to,” said Nguyen. “It’s a learning experience and a lot of people are going to appreciate that you’ve gone all this way to do it there. The Robertson School has really prepared me to take on the world and made me feel like I can go anywhere and succeed with the skills that I’ve learned here. When I get back to VCU in the fall, I’m really looking forward to bringing a completely new perspective on how I tackle my creative work and all that I do moving forward.”

Nguyen returns to the Robertson School in the fall as the incoming president of the VCU Advertising (Ad) Club.  Click here to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Please also read about the internship experiences of other Robertson School students this summer:

McKenna Day worked as a content marketing intern for Ellucian.

Madison Blum had a communication internship at the American Chemical Society.

Sarah Danial landed a fellowship at CBS News in New York. 

Editor’s Note:
Nguyen would like to thank David and Michelle Baldacci for providing him with the support to be in Vietnam as an Experiential Learning Fund Recipient. He is also thankful to Professor Joshua Smith and VCU's study abroad program for creating the opportunity for him to go to Vietnam. He is also appreciative of his professors in the advertising sequence, such as Jessica Collins and Peyton Rowe, for passing on their knowledge and confidence to him.