WTAMU student travels to China for internship

Photo courtesy of Alex Montoya  Alex Montoya experiencing living the life of a study student.
Photo courtesy of Alex Montoya
Alex Montoya experiencing living the life of a study student.

There are more than 24 million people who gaze upon the bright lights of Shanghai, China and call it home. Others travel there to embrace the rich culture, indulge in the cuisine or simply take on the international business world. For one West Texas A&M University student, Shanghai brought him an internship of lifetime.

Alex Montoya, senior Broadcast and Advertising and Public Relations major, is a well seasoned traveler and desired to take his experiences abroad to the next level by seeking an internship to fulfill requirements for course credit for LEAD WT, a leadership certificate program for juniors and seniors on campus, internationally.

“The whole point of China was to be more of a clarity trip instead of a study abroad trip for me,” Montoya said. “I figure this internship will help me understand where I want to go with my career and after applying to several internships and being declined to all of them I figured China is the way to go.”

Montoya was immediately immersed into his internship, starting on the second day in Shanghai.

“Jet lag was kind of rough but I ended up working out the sleepiness with some good coffee,” Montoya said. “Starbucks is a galore there.”

Ringier, a company based out of Switzerland, is where Montoya called home for the duration of his internship. With 120 different magazines, the company dips its fingers in all kinds of broadcasting. The Shanghai branch focused mainly on magazines and websites. The magazine accounts that Montoya worked on appealed mostly to foreigners and expats who live in Shanghai for a temporary amount of time, with night life and food and bar reviews.

“Everyone kept referring to the magazine as the passport to the city,” Montoya said. “You figure out where you want to go and what are the hot spots. This magazine helps you integrate yourself into the city faster.”

Montoya interned with Ringier for a month and had to adjust to the work atmosphere quickly.

“The hardest part is getting over the fact that you are a student,” Montoya said. “I kept having to drill in my head I’m just an intern. I’m just a student. The professionals have been here longer than me. But after breaking bread with them it was really relaxed.”

Montoya was able to embrace the culture of more than just China as his 32 floor hotel/apartment was shared with people from all over the world, from England to Australia.

“The majority were students working all over the city,” Montoya said. “The elevator is a great place for conversation. It was like a little global home.”

Montoya was the recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which helped make his trip to China possible. He worked with both the Study Abroad office and the Nationally Competitive Scholarship office on campus in obtaining scholarships and funding.

“For the most part our scholarships will be for any type of study abroad experience as long as they are getting credit,” Carolina Galloway, Director of Study Abroad, said. “For example if they are going for a semester to take some actual courses or if they go for a summer to do like Alex did, an internship that he’s getting credit for, they can apply to our scholarships.”

Laura Seals, Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, helped guide Montoya through the Gilman Scholarship application process while Galloway helped with internship connections.

“These two ladies go out the way to help you study abroad so be sure to get to them because they can make dreams come true,” Montoya said.

These two offices are experiencing more students interested in international internships with degree plans requiring an internship fulfillment.

“The number is actually increasing,” Galloway said. “We have more students interested and inquiring about it because it’s an opportunity not only to get some work experience but also to see other countries and gain that international experience at the same time.”

“We are very proud of Alex and I know he’s looking for other opportunities,” Galloway said. “That’s really what we want to see, students that create that international mind and that want to explore and see other countries and see what else is out there.”