Aaron Froehlich and the Chocolate Factory: Southeast Student Interns in Africa

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 17, 2003- Eight weeks in Ghana, a chocolate factory and troubleshooting computers all equate to an awesome internship experience for one Southeast Missouri State University student.Photo of Aaron Froehlich

Aaron Froehlich, a senior management information systems (MIS) major from St. Louis, discovered that his internship at Cocoa Processing Company Limited (Cocoa), a chocolate factory in Ghana, Africa, was a once in a lifetime experience.

“What did I get myself into?” was the first question Froehlich asked himself as he stepped off the plane in Ghana, Africa, in the month of May. Froehlich explained his initial shock was in part due to his first experience in a third world country.

“I had been on several of the European international trips with the College of Business,” he said, “but Ghana was completely different than any country I had ever been to.”

Despite the initial cultural shock, Froehlich was able to quickly adapt to the culture and its surroundings.

For eight weeks, Froehlich was able to help establish some of the groundwork for transforming the paper based accounting system into an electronic format for Cocoa, a major chocolate exporter to U.S. companies such as Nestle and Godiva. According to Froehlich, Cocoa not only is responsible for transforming the cocoa bean into various forms such as liquor but also responsible for manufacturing chocolate bars.

Some of his daily responsibilities included troubleshooting and jump starting computers, and assisting the head MIS officer with problem resolution. In addition, Froehlich was able to use the skills he acquired in the classroom during his internship.

“I primarily used Visual Basic during my experience,” he said.

Froehlich says the most memorable part of the internship was the people in Tema, a township in Ghana.

“They were so hospitable and grateful to have me,” he said.

After completing his internship, Froehlich returned to campus this fall for his final semester of study. Froehlich says his experience at Cocoa in Ghana confirmed his career goals. Froehlich says he wishes to continue to stay within the field and currently is in the process of seeking full-time employment in the United States after he graduates in December. Froehlich says he hopes his internship experience in Ghana will definitely set him apart from the rest because he has “experience in the field” and he has the ability to adapt to a different culture.

Froehlich advises students to get a head start on internship hunting and to use the resources at Southeast as methods for seeking out internships. Froehlich was the only student from Missouri chosen to participate in the International Business Internship Exchange in Ghana, a program funded by the state of Missouri.  More information on international internship opportunities can be obtained from the International Business Programs office in Dempster 246.