The 2018 Social Science Scholars cohort spent the summer of 2018 establishing the framework for their careers. Some stayed in the United States and worked with Non-Government Organizations’s, interned on Capitol Hill, or trekked through national state parks in hopes of finding their path to success. Others traveled abroad and sought opportunities elsewhere; which is what I did. I had the pleasure of securing an internship at a law firm in Bangkok, Thailand. The firm is called Siam City Law and it is an international law firm which focuses primarily with foreign clients who wish to conduct business in Thailand.
While at my internship, I had the pleasure of working with almost everyone in the office from the managing partner all the way to the receptionist at the front desk; her name is Wai Wai. My schedule for the two months consisted of transitioning from almost every department. I started in HR Management and then went to tax law, land law, litigation, intellectual property, work permits/visas, and then corporate for the last two weeks. At first, I was a little hesitant with working in this law firm. Not because the partners were mean or racist, but because I was an American that didn’t speak Thai. My presumptions were laid to rest and I was able to assimilate into the workforce with ease.
Although the transition into a new atmosphere might not have been a deal breaker, there were a few hiccups that were presented during my internship but I will only touch on the most memorable. The first noticeable one was the concept of “Thai time.” I found this out when we had a company introductory meeting that was supposed to start at 9am. I showed up to the conference room at 8:50am to find no one in their seats. I figured they all would show up right at the nick of time but I was severely mistaken. The meeting commenced at roughly 9:45am and lasted until 11:30am. Aside from the formalities of the meeting, most of it was just small talk… in English. If you’ve never heard a foreigner in a business setting try to small talk English, it is quite comical. This may seem like a small complication, but this sort of acclimation was something I had to deal with throughout my time there. Nevertheless, it was truly a rewarding experience.
Outside of work was a whole different story. Due to the funding provided by the Social Science Scholars, and in particular my donor Marshall Cohn, I had some of the best experiences to last me a lifetime. I traveled to the former capitol Ayutthaya, went snorkeling in some of the clearest oceans I’ve ever seen, and even joined a football league (soccer in the U.S.). I’ve tried dishes I can’t pronounce and sang karaoke to Japan’s greatest hits. I’ve laughed with some really funny and kind people, and I’ve cried with those same people. Words can’t put into context the journey and fulfillment this opportunity has offered. I’m truly humbled to have had this experience and I believe it has changed me as a person.
Amir Muhammad is currently a senior double majoring in Political Science and Sociology with hopes of becoming a lawyer in international business.
The featured image is from the Oxford University Press blog.