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Impact Story: Shiveshni Pillay takes Thailand

iThursday, Jun 11th, 2015 comments by Busisiwe Keke

Adventures of a WomEng’er: Shiveshni Pillay’s Experience of Working Abroad


Shiveshni Pillay is one of WomEng’s success stories. Having attended a GirlEng workshop while in high school, Shiveshni continued her journey into engineering while also becoming an active WomEng volunteer as a mentor and then serving as a GirlEng Provincial Executive team member, last year. This year, she is on a new adventure – working abroad. She gives us a glimpse of her experience thus far:


Being a female engineer, we are often posed with many opportunities, and I believe that every opportunity should be gladly accepted where possible.

I am Shiveshni, an electronic engineering student at Durban University of Technology and this is my story; my working adventure!

A few months ago I had heard that Western Digital, an electronic company, offered internships to students like myself in the engineering field. The company is based in several countries and is recognized worldwide. However their internship program is based at their Thailand branch and is affiliated with our university’s CO-operative education department. Having applied for this programme, I did not expect to be selected at all as I am currently still completing my studies.

A month late, a Skype appointment had been set up for me with the company. I could not believe it, I had made the shortlist!! As I prepared for the interview there were many things running through my mind like, “Was I ready for such a big move?” , “ Is Thailand a safe place for me to go on my own?” , “Can I cope away from home? “ . It was a daunting thought in the beginning but the excitement of travelling, the enthusiasm, to practice my engineering started to get me more and more motivated into taking up this opportunity.

A few days later I received news in my mailbox confirming that I had been chosen to work as an intern in Thailand. At that moment I felt a thousand emotions; excitement, disbelief, shock, scared, overwhelmed and many more. It was confirmed, I was moving to Thailand for a year!

As the time for my departure got closer, saying bye just became difficult. It was no longer so much of excitement. Living on my own, away from everyone in a foreign country, it started to sink in. The thoughts were really overwhelming at the time and the day of my departure was and emotional one. But at the same time a new adventure awaited me; Thailand.

Upon arrival at my apartment, I must admit I was scared. I was in a country where communication in English was rare. Travelling alone for the first time did make me want to cancel everything and run back home many times, but I realized it was time for me to venture on my own.

Thailand was not all that I expected. In fact it was a pleasant surprise when I met the interns. They made me feel so welcomed and it is such a pleasure meeting students from so many different countries in the world. I’ve met Australians, Germans, Cambodians, Indonesians, Spanish, French and many more. Everyone is just really friendly and they made me feel comfortable very quickly and it helped take away the feeling of being alone.


Going to work at an internationally recognized company like Western Digital was something I always wished I would achieve ever since I decided on pursuing a career in engineering, and being a female engineer, this was an opportunity for me to prove that this is where I belong.

Western digital is more than what I initially expected. They have so many different departments and the largest number of employees at their Thailand branch. Every single member of the company is so humble and really friendly, be it a manager or supervisor, they are always willing to assist whenever it is required. They are very relaxed and calm which makes for a great working environment.

Apart from this amazing work experience that I am gaining, the travel and cultural experience is a topic on its own. Thailand has so much to see, so much to do, and everything is so affordable. Thus far I have visited the many Buddha temples including the most famous, Grand Palace. I have been on a weekend trip to a floating house in the middle of a huge lake in Thailand. The city is beautiful at night with many places where you can relax and hang out with friends to de – stress. And being a female in Thailand, your favorite thing to do is shop. There is a huge selection of malls and markets with things being sold at next to nothing.

It’s been just a month since I arrived here and I am enjoying every moment from the amazing work experience to the travelling, networking and meeting new people. I feel so fortunate to have been selected for this opportunity and I intend on making the most of it.

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