Real World Employer Projects
To provide students the opportunity to gain real, hands-on work experience while still studying, INTI has built close ties with the industry to develop employer projects – a programme that enables students to work on actual business case studies and industry-relevant problems.
Through these projects, students are presented with immediate challenges faced by businesses, and are required to work together in teams to develop and present their proposals within a two-month period. The process enables them to learn key employability skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication, and equips them with practical experiences in meeting, managing and presenting before top management representatives from their ‘employer’ companies.
Upon graduation, these students take with them a portfolio of handling real projects, giving them the edge in the marketplace. Thanks to these experiences, INTI graduates earn the highest average first-job salaries in Malaysia, with 96% of them being employed within 12 months of graduating (according to the INTI Graduate Employability Survey 2014, Millward Brown).
To date, INTI has worked with close to 236 employers from all major industries, and has completed 350 employer projects in the last four years.
Employer Project With BFM
Project Title: BFM Tech Talk (Tech in Focus)
Programme: Bachelor of Arts in Finance, University of Hertfordshire
Course: Financial Engineering and Models
When 24 INTI Year Three students from the Financial Engineering and Models course were told they would work with BFM for a course project, whoops of delight erupted throughout the classroom. After all, it is not often you get a behind-the-scenes insight into the dynamic creative processes that take place in one of Malaysia’s most exciting media houses. As Malaysia’s only independent radio station, focused on business news and current affairs, BFM has established a stellar reputation as a thought-provoking media house that champions intelligent, rational, evidence-based discourse.
INTI’s task? Develop show notes for BFM’s new show entitled ‘Tech in Focus’, where top-performing technology players would be highlighted, complemented by juicy insights, into what makes them tick, by international analysts.
Show notes are critical to a radio show because they guide the contents of an interview and serve as the presenter’s main source of reference. As a minimum, the team was expected to deliver show notes that list the resources, provide background details of the interviewees and suggest talking points, along with contact details of potential interviewees.
What made this tricky was the fact that BFM is highly valued for its astute analysis, so the show notes had to add genuine professional value. Upping the ante, the first episode was expected to start by 1st of June, and the company hoped to have the complete details of all companies and show notes by the end of June – which meant the students only had eight weeks!
Working under these pressure-cooker conditions, the students put all their learnings and resourcefulness to the test. All that classroom practice of analysing, evaluating and critiquing financial practices came in handy, as they sifted through tons of information on stock market movements in relation to local, regional and international tech companies. To guide their selection of the most appropriate companies to feature on the show, they reviewed and dissected case studies of 20 leading tech companies. In order to uncover background information about shortlisted interviewees and companies, the students learned how to leverage on DRUM and Seeking Alpha, tools traditionally used only by journalists.
The entire project was a steep learning curve, but by the endpoint, the students were elated to emerge far more tech and business savvy than when they started. They also expressed higher confidence in breaking down complex reports and getting to the gist of it. The icing on the cake was, of course, the chance to learn from creative and talented celebrities such as the show’s producer and presenter, Jeff Sandhu!
Employer Project With Dell
Project Title: INTI-UOW Transnational Project 2015
Major: Bachelor of Information Technology
Course: Corporate Network Management
50 students from the Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) degree programme at the University of Wollongong campus and at INTI International College Subang, were given a taste of transnational collaboration when they participated in a cross-border project. A component of their coursework, the project is part of INTI’s bigger goal to build a community of practitioners committed to improving teaching and learning practices in transnational higher education.
The task was to address ways to improve the user friendliness of the shared services solution employed by Dell Malaysia, one of the world’s biggest IT Solution providers. Since the participants were communicating across a large geographical distance, video conferencing facilities were used to facilitate the activities which included program introduction, the employer presentation, mid-point review, penultimate students’ presentations and selected final presentation to the employer.
Both groups were eager, knowing that the experience would strengthen their resume. With technology enabling the rapid sharing of information across borders, transnational collaboration is quickly becoming a normal practice in multinationals. Such collaborations, however, can be hugely challenging due to a host of complex factors, such as differing cultural expectations, inequalities in power relations and communication gaps.
As expected, the project members encountered several hiccups. In the beginning, they had a hard time communicating with each other due to different preferences in platforms for communication: UOW students liked using emails or Skype but in Malaysia, Facebook was preferred. There were also instances where they struggled to coordinate discussion times due to different time zones. Cultural differences, too, led to occasional friction when one group was more straight to the point and systematic in task delegations.
The students had to draw on all the skills that they have learnt in their studies to fully understand the underlying problem, hold productive discussions, and finally articulate their solutions to the client. With the steady guidance of their supervisor and employer they not only overcome the initial teething challenges, but exceeded expectations by coming up with innovative ideas that were, to quote the client, “not on my radar.”
As for the students, they agreed unanimously that working alongside professionals who are currently in the field to solve a real-world business issue gave them invaluable insight into the industry. They also appreciated the chance to learn first-hand about what is going on in the technological world – and perhaps more critically, what marketable skills networking students are expected to know, in order to maximise their employability.
Employer Project With IBM
Project Title: Creating a Differentiated NEW Brand Strategy and PR Campaign for IBM Shared Services (Center of Excellence)
Programme/Major: University of Wollongong – School of Management and Marketing
Course: Public Relations Campaign
As part of its branding strategy, IT giant IBM was keen on a new PR strategy that would differentiate the company from its competitors.
With more than 90 years of leadership in helping businesses globally to innovate and become smarter, and operating in Malaysia since 1961, one would think that IBM Corporation needs little introduction. But IBM Malaysia felt that there was insufficient visibility on its shared services sector, which departs radically from the traditional approach which is typically low-level, transactional, routine and involves primarily human to machine intervention.
A new brand strategy was timely to showcase IBM’s strength in this sector. Knowing the value that could come from an infusion of young, forward-thinking individuals with fresh perspectives, IBM entrusted the job of repositioning its shared services sector to 36 INTI Year Three Public Relations students. Far from being daunted, the students relished the chance to tackle a high-priority task for a top tier brand.
To set the students on the right track, they were given a concise brief from the organisation. The PR campaign should highlight the company’s emphasis on conversation and engagement, demonstrate its more insightful and analytical approach and emphasise the rigorous requirement for high level lean-work-processes and lots of data-driven analysis.
The students were given very clear objectives. They were expected to define appropriate and relevant campaign goals. In addition, they were required to perform an insight survey on the effectiveness of the campaign to determine the company’s potential future direction. Getting their priorities right was a huge asset to the team; it helped them to choose the right campaign strategies and tactics, which they rigorously debated and benchmarked against case studies.
There were plenty of opportunities for the students to exercise the analytical and planning skills they learnt in class. As part of the planning process, discussions covered campaign research, planning, implementation and evaluation for issue and crisis management, sponsorship or CSR/donor programmes, events management, as well as the role of analytics and social media.
Although the project spanned only 12 weeks, the students felt their learning and growth was significant. Because the work extended through the entire process of developing a campaign, from conception to post-mortem, they went through the motions of a full-fledged PR campaign, an accomplishment that would enhance their resume. It was certainly a great way to build upon the foundation of their course and give them the opportunity to develop as media practitioners.
Employer Project With Uber
Project Title: UBER SWOT Analysis on East Malaysia Expansion
Programme/Major: Bachelor of Business Administration (3+0) with University of Hertfordshire/Marketing
Course: Global Perspective in Economics
How many students get to participate in the launch of a cool product by a world-changing company? 20 INTI College Sabah students taking the Global Perspective in Economics course, that’s who!
Over a period of 16 weeks, they worked on the key component of a marketing plan for UBER, an app-based company that has taken the private transportation industry by storm. In less than six years since its founding, it has expanded from its San Francisco roots to 200 cities worldwide, including Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bharu. Encouraged by this success, UBER has set its sights on expanding to the East Malaysian market, but before embarking on a capital-intensive venture, they obviously needed to size up the potential and risks in the new marketplace.
To help them make this important decision, UBER engaged the INTI team to develop a SWOT analysis and formulate recommendations about the feasibility of their expansion plans.
This high level task required the team to apply the full range of their classroom-taught skills – marketing analysis, web services, critical and analytical thinking and data oriented strategy – to an industry they were unfamiliar with. But, fuelled by their excitement of working on this tremendous project, the students were raring to go.
Based purely on Internet research, they managed to obtain intelligence on competitor information, key events in the region, and identify potential partnership opportunities that UBER could approach such as concerts, restaurants, nightclubs, bars and hotels. Then, based on this qualitative and quantitative data, the students developed and adapted their recommendations accordingly.
As a result of the exercise, the students developed a fuller awareness of the company, the industry and the dynamics of the international market, and particularly the importance of understanding customer demographics in business decision-making.
In class, they were taught that demographic variables, such as cross-cultural differences, can impact the supply and demand in a region. Through the project they could now relate that lesson to UBER’s ability to expand at lightning speed, tailoring local efforts to suit the unique dynamics of each new market. At the end of the project, the students agreed that the experience gave them a richer understanding of the underlying economic processes and principles that drive a business.
Putting these fresh young minds in the driver’s seat of developing a new product fostered an entrepreneurial atmosphere that fed their energy to think out of the box. So much so, the team delivered much more than a SWOT analysis – they produced a full business plan proposal that addressed key factors such as supply, demand, competitors, demographics and strategy!