A Vietnamese-American is hoping that a program he helped found last year will connect Vietnamese youth, especially those studying abroad, with businesses back home through paid internships.
Tony Ngo, who graduated from Harvard Business School in 2008 and now works for Bridger Horizon Vietnam Partners in Ho Chi Minh City, says he founded the "Interns in Vietnam" (IIV) program with the vision of training a network of young Vietnamese business leaders who are passionate about Vietnam and conscious about giving back to society.
Bridger Horizon Vietnam Partners is an investment fund partnership between Bridger Capital of New York and Horizon Capital of Vietnam.
"I believe in the power of developing leaders who will make a difference wherever they go," he said. "These youth will be the ones to drive change in Vietnam, economically and socially."
The program connects high-achieving students with leading businesses and non-profit organizations in Vietnam for summer employment opportunities. All participants can also contribute by volunteering for community services.
Now in its second year, IIV has partnered with the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), a summer internship program in the US that aims at helping high school students of color achieve their career goals.
Ngo said the partnership allows IIV interns access to SEO's financial training resources and a global network of more than 6,000 alumni.
Besides getting paid, students also get to spend time with CEOs or general directors of all employer partners in HCMC, which include IDG Ventures, HCMC Securities, and Standard Chartered.
Bui Thi Dung, a Vietnamese student at Chapman University in California, US, said the internship she had with Horizon Capital Group through SEO-IIV this past summer was very challenging. "There was a lot to learn for someone who has just finished three years of college," she said.
Ngo said the program originally targeted Vietnamese born and raised overseas. However, "we quickly realized that SEO-IIV should be more inclusive to anyone who's passionate about working and producing change in Vietnam," he said.
Out of this year's internship class, the program recruited a mixture of college students, who are overseas Vietnamese, Vietnamese who are studying overseas as well as local students.
Le Hung Cuong, who's pursuing a master's degree in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame, said his 10-week internship with the Ho Chi Minh City Securities Corporation as a research analyst has deepened his fascination with the emerging market in Vietnam.
"I feel a lot more excited about returning to the country in the next few years, when there would be ample opportunities available for a young Vietnamese professional like myself," he said.
SEO-IIV plans to launch a similar program in the winter designed primarily for local Vietnamese students.