Local internship, International experience

During my summer internship at PolicyPal, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of travelling to Paris to speak at VivaTech 2017, a french-based technology conference.

I was surprised when I was given the opportunity to attend VivaTech 2017, a technology conference in Paris, France. I did not expect to travel for work during my three month summer internship, let alone speaking in front of a large crowd in France.

Fortunately, being a communications undergraduate meant that I had at least some public speaking experience. I was raring to go and I felt confident in taking on the assignment.

In six days, I broadened my horizon in many different ways. I’ll try to summarise my experiences in this article.

1. Representing PolicyPal at VivaTech

VivaTech 2017 is an annual technology conference held in Paris, France. Focusing on innovation and start-ups, it attracted technology giants like Google, Facebook and Alibaba. Some of its notable attendees this year include France’s newly elected President, Emmanuel Macron, and Alibaba’s CEO, Daniel Zhang.

The pitch session was definitely the highlight of my trip. As the sole presenter, I had to explain PolicyPal’s solution clearly and answer any potential questions from the floor. If that wasn’t intimidating enough, I had to do it in front of a crowd that probably has not heard a Singaporean speak before.

What PolicyPal does – It helps you manage all your insurance policies in one convenient application. You can also purchase travel, health, life and even dengue insurance. Try it out here!

Many delegates that I’ve spoken to were deeply impressed by the OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, technology PolicyPal uses. Basically, this allows the user to digitise their insurance policies  in under 30 seconds, simply by taking a snapshot of it.

Some even commented that PolicyPal has potential to become a leader in the global Insurtech industry. That made me really proud to be part of a Singaporean start-up.

Making one-to-one presentations was good practice for the live pitch.

One thing that I learned is that when talking to foreigners, it’s important to speak slowly and enunciate every word properly. It is different from communicating in Singapore, where you can speak fast, and still manage to get your point across.

2. Macron, Google and Facebook

Meeting France’s rockstar President, Emmanuel Macron, was the other highlight of my time at VivaTech. I admit that I was completely starstruck when we met.

The moment our eyes met was the start of something special  ?‍‍??

He shook hands with me, probably because I was the only Asian in the sea of Europeans there. So yes, I must say that he’s quite a nice chap.

I also took time out to visit the Google and Facebook booths at the conference. With these two, you can always expect something spectacular (also tons of freebies).

An Android experiment whereby a selfie is transferred onto paper via an automated drawing machine. Cool isn’t it?
A deck of cards containing a guide to advertising on Facebook. It was free so needless to say, I helped myself to two sets.

3. Travelling for work

Travelling long distances is pretty taxing on your body. However, the sheer diversity of experiences made the long flight and jet lag all worth it.

Working on my article with the cool European breeze blowing away.

Of course, I had to showcase how helpful PolicyPal is. Using the app, I purchased my travel insurance at the airport in under 3 minutes. It was instantly stored and reflected on the app after payment!

Got my travel insurance at the airport with just a few clicks on my smartphone. PolicyPal rocks!!

4. Enjoying Paris and all it has to offer.

Besides work, I had plenty of time to explore around the city and be a Parisian for a few days. Personally, I think that the most impressive thing about France is its art, culture and history. The museums and monuments were definitely the biggest draw for me!

Memorial Service for the French soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
I went to see Mona, but I think she was having a busy day.

Museums are a must if you are travelling to Paris. Through paintings and sculptures, you can experience how artists in different eras interpret the world. It’s no wonder they say that art is a reflection of the times. [Travel Secret 1: Always get the museum audio guides. It provides context, which is essential to understanding and appreciating the artwork on display.]

Visited the Château de Versailles, the former seat of political power in the Kingdom of France.

Overall, I’d say that Paris is relatively safe and tourist-friendly. The city itself is pretty easy to navigate around once you get used to commuting in their public trains. [Travel Secret 2: Purchase a ‘carnet’ of tickets (set of 10), it’s much cheaper than if you buy them individually. Also, use the Paris Metro App if you intend to commute around via the metro!]

Conclusion

One thing that struck me was the passion the French felt for their work. This applies to not only the tech founders and executives, but also the everyday restaurant waiter and public transport operator. The pride they take in their work is really inspiring. It’s definitely something that I’ll strive do in my everyday life.

This trip ranks as one of the most unforgettable experiences that I’ve had in my life. My internship at PolicyPal has given me lots of opportunities to attend conferences and workshops (both local and overseas). I’m extremely thankful to my bosses for having the trust and confidence in me. My time at PolicyPal has been enriching so far – and there’s still more than a month left to go! I’m glad that I made the decision to do an internship here.

If you want to find out more about PolicyPal or are interested in collaborating with us, please feel free to drop me an email via zijian@policypal.com. I’ll be glad to have a chat. ?

[Download the PolicyPal App here and start organising your insurance policies today!]



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