KUWAIT: Internships can, no doubt, help an intern gain insight into his or her field of study, but for Fahad Al-Khuzam, who was selected to be the first international intern at the US-based, non-profit Operation HOPE, the experience meant a lot more.
I have always said that 'international experience is the best experience…it's been a long-held dream of mine to work abroad and to experience the professional world outside," Al-Khuzam told KUNA.
Having already experienced periods of work in Kuwait with the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) and Efad Holding, Al-Khuzam, 19, described his latest experience as being "different" because he was working for a non-profit organization. "It felt great," he said.
The month-long internship saw Al-Khuzam employed at HOPE's 'Banking on Our Future' offices in Arlington, VA, where he worked on putting together a recommended plan for HOPE to roll out an iPhone mobile Application course to serve both children and adults, which will have an integrated focused content that incorporates entrepreneurial concepts and ideas for starting a business in the mobile application space.
The aim of the iHOPE program is to increase entrepreneurial spirit in youth and adults. iHOPE will help the young to build mobile applications in a world now where the internet is advancing and has become more 'clickable.' Once those applications have been built based on young people's creative ideas, they will be launched on the market for sale," he explained.
As a member of the British Council's international Global Changemakers network, Al-Khuzam has also participated in the World Economic Forum 2009 in the Dead Sea, Jordan, where he got the chance to meet with HOPE Inc's founder, chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant.
I met Fahad at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan earlier this year and was just so impressed with him, that I was inspired to offer him an opportunity as our first HOPE International Intern on the spot. He did not disappoint," Bryant explained.
Asked why HOPE had decided to take on foreign interns, he said, "These are not foreign interns, they represent my brothers and sisters from another region. We are all global citizens, in an increasingly interconnected world. We must build bridges of understanding with and between cultures, countries and each other.
He added that HOPE's goals in taking on Al-Khuzam were "more than fulfilled, " saying, "Fahad gave as much as or more than he got. He taught and inspired my team, even as he was learning and being inspired. It just proves what I believe; you cannot have dignity yourself until you offer it to someone else.
Al-Khuzam said that his experience with HOPE had guided him in choosing his career. "I have been exposed to so many organizations and companies which have given me the idea how each operate and where I find myself.
He noted that many people working in non-profit organizations like HOPE left high-status jobs and happily settled for lower salaries "because they have the urge to give back to the community and not think of maximizing profits but about the amount of people they have helped.
One of the highlights of his experience, he said, was witnessing the "work ethic" – hard working people who were also very punctual. This, he said, encouraged him to keep on doing the same.
I have built many great connections with Operation HOPE and did not only come back with my luggage and experience, but opportunities as well," he said, adding that Operation HOPE had expressed its willingness to take on more international interns, not only from Kuwait but the Middle East as well in the near future.
Al-Khuzam, who's currently a sophomore at Kuwait's Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST), is also involved with the Lothan Youth Achievement Center (LoYAC) in the formation of an environmental committee, as well as other youth activities. He also hopes to earn his graduate degree abroad.
My volunteer work and internship has helped me develop who I am personally and professionally, not to mention the art of dealing with others which is a very important, if not the most important, thing," he concluded. – KUNA