LAI Chun Fung

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The experience has also given me a better understanding of myself and helped me identify the right direction for my future career.

A two-month internship at a construction engineering firm in Medellin, Colombia, had a two-fold impact on Lai Chun Fung. “It was not only a great opportunity for me to apply what I have learned at university,” he says. “The experience has also given me a better understanding of myself and helped me identify the right direction for my future career.”

Attached to a specialist local team, Lai was involved in testing samples of steel beams used in the building industry. At times, he had to accompany engineers to various building sites to select samples for testing. He also visited factories manufacturing these beams, which are such an essential part of the construction sector. The internship also gave Lai the opportunity to operate technologically advanced devices such as ultrasonic testing equipment. This is used to examine the internal structure and composition of metal beams. “For the first time in my tertiary education, the internship let me apply those skills as well as the professional and technical knowledge I’ve acquired during my studies at OUHK in a real workplace.. I have also learned a great deal from following the conscientiouss step-by-step process needed to accomplish a project from scratch.” Lai says.

Lai found that working overseas has taught him a lot about adaptability and has considerably enhanced his communication skills. For instance, in his university coursework, much of the focus is on the guidelines adopted by most testing service providers in Hong Kong. Those are similar to the standards and procedures used in Britain, for historical reason. However, engineers in Colombia primarily follow the US model. “For that reason, I had to refer to both standards constantly and carefully cross-check when I was communicating with the engineers in my team, or with clients, to avoid any misunderstanding,” he says.

This kind of practical experience helped him develop a greater sense of responsibility and more meticulous approach to work, besides having a chance to apply his professional knowledge and observe how engineers go about their business. “Testing is essential for quality assurance,” he says. “There will be legal liability if any problems arise with the tested items.”

This in-depth exposure to the day-to-day work environment in Colombia also enhanced Lai’s self-awareness and helped him decide what should come next. “I plan to study for a master’s degree in automatic engineering after my graduation,” Lai says. “The practical work experience and deep immersion in a different culture in Colombia have prepared me well for further study abroad.”