|Internship at the World Trade Center of Harrisburg Establishes Connections for Junior Business Major
Lebanon Valley College junior Cody Richard grew up in a business environment, so when he decided to attend LVC, there was no doubt about the path he would choose. But what he didn’t know was that being a business administration major would take him to the World Trade Center of Harrisburg for a rare internship opportunity.
“My parents own two businesses, so I’ve grown up in this business atmosphere,” Richard said.
Because of his past experiences, Richard’s mindset was always geared toward the private sector of business in which he was focused on generating profit. When he reached his junior year of college, Richard was determined to acquire a new mindset in the public sector of business.
“I approached Professor Treva Clark for aid during my internship search,” Richard said. “She told me about the internship position at the World Trade Center and encouraged me to apply.”
“It’s such a great experience because it is so hands-on. It’s just my supervisor, Tina, me, and one other intern. Everything is on our shoulders,” Richard said. He assists in event preparation, membership services, educational programs, research, and other special projects.
The World Trade Center of Harrisburg guides members seeking aid in selling their products abroad. They provide both companies and individuals with contacts and suggestions based on research and knowledge of the industry.
“If somebody wants to sell a product in France, we will set him or her up with an office there. Or if somebody approaches us and says, ‘George said he can sell our product to all of Europe,’ we can run a background check on George to find out if he is legitimate,” Richard said. “If he is, we will help the member establish contact with him and help them form the contract.”
Because WTC is mostly state-funded, they can’t turn anybody down. Richard describes an incident in which he advised a man not to move forward with his idea.
“There was a gentleman that wanted to sell chicken feed to India. My job was then to run a top-market report, which is a summary of all the top-exporting and important countries of chicken feed,” Richard said. “In my research, I found that India was the third-largest chicken feed exporter in the world.”
Although WTC recommended not moving forward with the project, the gentleman was insistent on proceeding, so Richard provided him the information he needed.
Another integral part of the job is also to inform and educate others on the importance of cultural awareness.
“Members have to understand how to approach individuals from foreign countries. We emphasize that different countries should be approached in different ways; they have to adapt if they want their product to be successful,” Richard said. “This is a big component of the events we host.”
Each day he heads into the office, he knows he will be able to apply the knowledge he already has, learn new skills, and be challenged along the way. He’s gained knowledge in marketing, international financing, international shipping regulations, and many other globally related subjects.
“I am applying my education in every aspect of my internship while simultaneously learning new things,” Richard said. “It’s not only solidifying what I’ve learned, but I’m applying it in ways that I never imagined. This allows me to see other directions in which I can apply my skills, too.”
For Richard, a switch from a private sector business model to a public one was quite an adjustment.
“We do nothing to help drive profits. We just get them there, tell them what to do and what to expect, and say good luck,” Richard said.
“I’m trying to decide if I want to go into business myself or enter a business like this. This internship is helping me with that. Now my mindset is helping others get to the point of making profit instead of generating it for myself,” Richard said.
While he is still unsure of his ultimate career direction, he was eager to continue his internship into the fall semester.
“I asked Tina how I could reapply for the fall and she just said, ‘You’re staying. Just tell me where to sign, I’d love to have you back.”
Richard sees opportunity in continuing to develop relationships in the contacts he has made with major company CEOs, small business owners, and individuals.
“I’m meeting people and establishing relationships. I have a stack of business cards from people in so many different areas of business. I’m essentially building product information for myself,” he said.