Student Stories: Tharaka Munidasa

Tharaka shares his engineering internship journey in Shenzhen, China.

"After completing my second student exchange at Penn State for the Fall semester in 2016, I knew that I was completely hooked to the travel buzz, and couldn't wait for my next trip! I realised that not only did I love the fun and exciting cultural adventure that going abroad offered, but that every international opportunity diversified my engineering skill set and will bring me one step closer to starting my own business one day!

"CDES helped me through the whole process of my latest adventure - an engineering internship to Shenzhen, China. While organising the trip CDES made it easy by giving me constant feedback, encouragement and suggestions whenever I needed it, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t utilise their help sooner in my time at UoA!

"The experience I gained while interning at Lastmile-SimerLab, a company that invents and consults on innovative projects, was invaluable. For example, I was responsible for replicating my boss’ idea by modelling the design using an engineering design program - a huge responsibility! I can’t wait for the finished product as the patent which involved will be the "forefront of micro transport".

"During my internship I made the most of every opportunity to explore Shenzhen city - a fishing village that has transformed into the tech capital of the world! I loved visiting Lychee Park, Wutong Mountain, Huaqiangbey Tech Market. I even did a volunteering day at the local retirement home! I always challenged myself to find the best value-for-money on tasty food. This meant exploring the depths of the city for exotic street foods and genuine Chinese cuisine.

"A few key takeaways from my amazing internship experience was learning that I have to take every opportunity I can to learn from more experienced people in my field so that one day I can stand out to prospective employers. I learnt to quickly utilise the short time I had to upskill as much as possible and squeeze everything I could out of the experience!

"I have to give interning in Shenzhen the credit for inspiring to one day start my own business because I learnt so much about myself, including that I’m a natural networker! Not only did I make lifelong friendships with the fellow interns who are from all around the world including the UK and USA, but I managed to make valuable connections at business events with people from Shenzhen - perfect for if I ever want to manufacture goods or work there again.

I have also learnt that by immersing myself in a new incredibly unique culture I have become more adaptable and able to adjust very quickly. This is a fantastic skill to have for the future!



"I would recommend every student to go to an overseas internship or exchange because it ticks all the boxes! You can see the world while making incredible friends and developing your career. The amount of personal and professional skills and amazing experiences that can be gained from overseas opportunities while you’re a student are endless - so I encourage you to take hold of them."

You will learn new insights about yourself, develop your adaptability, independence, maturity and initiative, and the global connections gained can open doors and propel your career to new heights!