Charles Tantakool: Experience as a Thai-American Second Generation in Washington
Although my internship has already come to an end, the experiences and fond memories of my time in DC will last forever. I had to finish my internship program earlier due to my class schedule. Though the time was short, I was fully exposed to the US political system and international relations as a whole. I spent my time working at the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) as a market and policy research trainee, covering the mining and energy sector in Thailand. I also worked closely with an experienced portfolio manager who oversees Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. My main responsible was to conduct deep research on current market situations related to natural gas, crude oil, alternative energy, coal, and then give an update on the key policies of the Thai government that could potentially impact the investment strategy of American corporations. For example, the snapshot energy policy would include a recent energy mix, consumption by sectors, demand forecast, target energy plan (PDP2015), key stake holders, and taxing structure. Essentially, I spent most of my time reading through reports and data from various sources such as the International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, World Trade Organization, and etc. I was attempting to extract important information that could benefit the Business Council’s members. In addition I analyzed reports of new regulations and laws regarding policy updates for the mining sector. Through events such as gold mining shutdowns, I realized that such policies could adversely affect foreign investment in the country. However, the Thai government seemed to have a justification for such policy. Finally, once approved by the portfolio manager, the report will be sent to members of the Business Council and used as a supplement to understand the current situation in Thailand.
Another notable aspect was that the director of USABC often invited guest speakers from many top American corporations, such as Google and Apple, to share their experiences with interns. For instance, we had a meeting with the Director of International Relation at Apple. In the meeting, she talked about her career path and challenges Apple faces in ASEAN countries. In addition, the interns were allowed to take a day off during the week to attend any briefings that matched their interests. Fortunately, there are a variety of briefings held in DC every day. By attending these briefings students are not only able to gain an inside-perspective from specialists in the field, but they are also able to network with many professionals. I would recommend future TANIP participants to take advantage of such opportunities to attend briefings around Washington DC and develop their knowledge in key areas of interest.
In conclusion, as a graduate finance student I aim to incorporate this valuable experience from TANIP to my future career, and to contribute to the Thai community in both the US and Thailand by pursuing a career related to global investment or development banks. Having talked to several high ranked government officials throughout the program, I realized that society could be better if everyone is willing to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good of the community. With a passion in finance, I would like to tackle Thai community challenges in areas such as income inequality, wages structure, and access to capital. I would like to thank the Royal Thai Embassy and the US-Asia Institute for establishing TANIP and accommodating each of us during our internship period.
By Charles Tantakool
Click HERE to read Charles’ First Week Impressions of the Thai-American National Internship Program (TANIP)
Click HERE to learn more about the Thai-American National Internship Program (TANIP)