Student Profiles

Peiran Zhang

Peiran Zhang

BSILR '16

Credit Internship

American Express, Sydney, Australia

During fall semester of my junior year, I decided to temporarily say goodbye to our beloved Cornell Ithaca Campus for a Credit Internship in the American Express, Sydney office. It was a difficult decision to leave the beautiful campus behind, but an easy decision to take on this wonderful opportunity and work in a world-renowned company situated in a different continent. It is a very unique experience to gain work experiences that directly relate to my educational curriculum and will influence to my future academic pursuits once I come back to Cornell. When I first applied for the Credit Internship Program, I never thought I would be flying half way across the world to the other hemisphere. Now that I have gained work experience and international exposure from this internship, I can confidently say, I feel more prepared than ever about my future as a working professional after graduation.

I work in the American Express HR Global Compensation & Benefits team, and more specifically in the EMEA Health and Benefits team. I was offered the opportunity to work with the Health and Benefits team to launch a Healthy Living Initiative for all AmEx International markets across the globe. I was entrusted by my team members to handle many important aspects of project management, and encouraged to figure out my own way of getting things done. Instead of assigning tasks and providing instructions of exactly how to finish them, I was encouraged to build my own network and relationships to find out whom to go to in order to get the job done. I think this is an important component in current workplaces, where people not only have to have superb interpersonal and communication skills, but also the ability to use influence to drive for success.

The work itself is extremely dynamic; no one day is the same as the other. I participate in conferences with team members from all over the world on a regular basis to align strategies and engage in external benchmarking calls with other global companies. I also do data analysis for the projects I have the fortune to participate in to establish measurable results and linkage with the overall global business strategy. In terms of professional development, AmEx has enabled me to network and converse with employees from various departments including some from the C-suite. I am also very proud to say that some of the benefits and wellness programs I have worked on were pioneer initiatives in AmEx and sometimes even in comparison with other global companies.

My learning is not confine in the office. In fact, experiencing a different country, meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds, while detaching myself from familiarity all provided me with a chance to truly discover my own values and beliefs. The fact that I was placed in the workforce without my school to organize events and gather my peers for me allowed me to stretch myself socially by building a life both at and away from work from scratch. I have done a lot of traveling and sightseeing around Sydney and into the heartland of Australia, which is simply fantastic.

My Credit Internship at AmEx Sydney Office is a phenomenal opportunity filled with challenging work, fun and engaging co-workers, beautiful landscapes and overall once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If you would like to learn more about my experiences, I would be happy to provide more details. I wholeheartedly recommend AmEx, Australia, and the Credit Internship Program.

- Peiran Zhang