When Jack Jia MBA ’11 began to look for summer internships last semester he had certain criteria for what he wanted out of the opportunity. He knew he wanted to work for a consumer products company; he knew he wanted an experience at the intersection of sales and product development; and he knew he wanted to be in China.
What he didn't know then was that the key to his summer success lay in the hands of Brandeis alum and loyal supporter Tony Chang, PhD ’83, chief executive of Hong Kong-based Tech-Link Silicones. Chang founded the Hong Kong-based company, a manufacturer of silicon rubber used in automotive products, appliance parts, and household goods, in 1999. Today, the company has five factories in Mainland China that export products to Europe and North America.
“I had been researching various opportunities for a few months when Elana Givens, head of career services at IBS, told me about a Brandeis alum who was looking for a full-time business development manager in Hong Kong. She suggested I write him a letter, and make a proposal that I intern for him,’” recalls Jia. “A few weeks later, I got an email asking when I could start.”
During the three-month internship, Jia helped the company develop a dashboard holder for a car’s global positioning system (GPS) and other handheld devices. First, he conducted research by speaking with customers to identify a potential market. Next, he worked on a cost analysis to determine a price that would both encourage customers to buy the product and enable Tech-Link to make a decent margin. Finally, he worked with a team of design engineers to create a prototype of the GPS holder to send to customers, and using the customer feedback, he helped make additional modifications to the product. By the end of summer, Jia helped the company land an order from a major US electronics retailer.
“The internship was exactly the kind of professional experience I was looking for: I now have an understanding of Chinese consumer behavior and culture, and the internship gave me a much better perspective on how everything from finance to product design to marketing ties together,” says Jia, who was born in Beijing, but grew up in San Diego.
Jia reported directly to Chang, and says he was an “encouraging and supportive” mentor. “We were able to get close quickly because we share a Brandeis bond,” says Jia. “Giving back to Brandeis is one of Tony’s top priorities, and it left a big impact on me. Brandeis cultivates a culture of giving back–both to society and to the school.”
After graduation, Jia plans to pursue a career in marketing in China. Chang is certain he’ll succeed.
“The opportunity to nurture a new generation of Brandeis business talent was very gratifying for me,” says Chang. “The summer internship allowed Jack to practice the marketing skill he’s learning at IBS, and become more capable both working with customers and colleagues. I am confident that when Jack becomes successful in the world of business, he will remember Brandeis and his internship at Tech-Link.”