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From Chestertown to China
Thanks to connections she made while studying abroad in Hong Kong, Lily Britt is spending the summer interning at one of the world’s leading supply chain management firms.
When Lily Britt ’16 spent a semester studying abroad in Hong Kong, she never expected she’d be returning to the global financial center to work at one of its most innovative companies. But thanks to some determined networking on her part and support from her teachers at Washington College, she’ll spend the summer of her junior year as an intern at Li & Fung, a world leader in supply chain management.
Britt, a double major in French and business management, with a concentration in global business, will be working for eight weeks in Li & Fung’s corporate communications team at the company’s headquarters in Hong Kong. She’s the first Washington College student to land the extremely competitive internship.
“I always tell students that there are so many great opportunities out there beyond the classroom—if they reach for them, if they put energy into meeting people in professional settings, if they can develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills,” says Michael Harvey, associate professor of business management and Britt’s advisor for her business major. “From the day Lily got here, she has realized the power of engaging with people and looking for constructive collaborations. She practices it everywhere she goes.”
Britt’s entrée to the internship came from Annie Suen, senior manager of Learning and Development at Li & Fung, whom she met while she was studying at Lingnan University, one of Washington College’s international partner institutions. Harvey had encouraged her to get involved in business organizations while she was there, so she became a member of the Kong Kong Federation of Business Students.
“They did this ‘menternship’ program one night where they hook you up with these really cool professionals from across Hong Kong,” Britt says. She asked the group’s executive board whether she could meet a leading woman in business. They introduced her to Suen.
“That’s how I made that connection, and when I met with her, she loved what I was interested in—consumer products, retailing, and how everything works. She said, ‘That’s what Li & Fung does, are you thinking about interning?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve applied to about 20 internships across America,’ and she said, ‘Well, you should apply to ours.’ ’’
Li & Fung, a multinational supply chain and logistics firm, has grown from its humble beginnings in 1906 to a luminary in the industry. Last year, Forbes ranked it No. 41 among its “World’s Most Innovative Companies;” Fortune in 2013 listed it among its “World’s Most Admired Companies;” and Boao Review, Roland Berger and FTChinese.com in 2014 awarded it among its “Most Influential Asian Companies.”
Britt met twice with Suen before leaving Hong Kong for Chestertown. She submitted a general application and then a more specific letter and résumé, followed by a Skype interview with two senior managers in corporate communications. Harvey, she says, read “edits and edits” of her cover letters and résumé. She credits him, as well as Pamela Pears, associate professor of French, chair of the Department of Modern Languages, and Britt’s French advisor, and Andrea Lange, assistant dean for academic initiatives, for helping her obtain the position.
Although she will receive a small allowance from Li & Fung, Britt is getting financial support for the internship through the Hodson Trust Internship Fund, the Nina R. Houghton Internship Fund, the Bennett Endowment for International Studies, and the William B. Johnson Internship Award.
Britt, who’s also a member of the Brown Advisory Student-Managed Fund, Alpha Chi Omega, an RA on campus, and a member of Model UN and the SGA, says she doesn’t know yet what her postgraduate plans are, but she’s hoping that the experience she gains with this internship will open more doors for her.
“I know I want to get an MBA,” she says. But working for a firm like Li & Fung, gaining more experience before more school, would also be a great opportunity. “It’s an incredible multinational company, and that’s what I want.”