International internship gives BYU student experience, vision for future

Meriah Kulikovskyi jumped into Chinese culture as an intern for ATL Technology.

Meriah Kulikovskyi, a sophomore in the manufacturing engineering technology program, spent part of her summer in Dongguan, China working for ATL Technology as an intern with BYU’s Weidman Center for Global Leadership program.

Kulikovskyi, a native of Provo, has only been a manufacturing engineering technology major for a year, somewhere she never thought she’d be. She spent her first three years at BYU trying to pick a major before landing on geography her third year. During this time she had been working a campus job doing plumbing and electrical work. Here, she realized she liked fixing things.

"I like things that I need to take apart to figure out the problem," she said. "I never had experience doing that so I never realized I like it."

Her brother suggested manufacturing engineering technology. She switched last year and has never looked back.

Kulikovskyi didn’t have much experience in the major before she looked into the internship. She saw "Internships in Taiwan and China" in an annoucement email and went for it, despite her lack of experience and knowledge in the field. 

As an intern, she worked at an ATL Technology manufacturing factory doing lean manufacturing. She worked on projects that involved looking down the production lines at what was being manufactured, seeing where it was taking longer than it should while collecting times and data, and then creating solutions to cut down time, making the factory more efficient.

Learning these kinds of processes would be difficult in America, but learning it in China was even more difficult.

“It was definitely hard (being in China),” she said. “I didn’t believe that culture shock was a thing until I went and I experienced some extreme culture shock.”

Even with the cultural differences, Kulikovskyi was thankful to be in China because it is a great place for manufacturing. She learned a lot from the experience and knowledge of her Chinese colleagues. 

“I learned the importance of communication, something that is especially difficult to do across languages and cultures,” she said.

With the internship being a part of the Weidman Center for Global Leadership program, Kulkovskyi was faced with challenges that made her a better leader.

“I learned a lot about how to be a more effective leader,” she said. “I always considered myself a good leader before, but when I was faced with an actual problem and no clear solution immediately in sight, I had my limits tested.”

Doing an internship has proved to be a huge blessing for Kulikovskyi. It has helped her in classes and has provided more direction for her future.

“I had a really unique experience where I could go when I was earlier in the program, but I could already see how that has benefited me in my other classes that I’m taking now because I can see a real world application of what I’m learning now in this class,” she said. “It gives me a better view and idea of what I’m working towards in the future.”

Kulikovskyi never thought international work would be in her future, but after living in China she said it is something she could now potentially do. Because of this internship experience, she plans to do an internship every year until she graduates.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” she said. “I was so afraid, but after spending time and seeing how it has affected every aspect of my life and my hope for the future, I think it’s all worth it.”

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