Northeastern international business student gaining supply chain know-how as co-op in Singapore

Office building Ernst & Young, EY GmbH Wirtschaftspruefungsgesellschaft in Munich. Ernst & Young is a network of legally independent and independent companies operating globally under the Kuerzel EY in the areas of auditing, tax advice, transaction advice, risk advisory, financial advisory, as well as corporate and management advice and classic legal advice. Photo by: Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
headshot of Luke Zaller
Luke Zaller. Courtesy Photo

It’s a grueling workday for Luke Zaller, who is working as an analyst during a co-op at Ernst & Young in Singapore. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., he can sometimes work on analyst reports until 10 or 11 p.m. But, Zaller says, the job is preparing him for his future career.

Zaller began his time in Singapore last semester by participating in a study abroad program and extended his time when he signed up for a co-op. He will be in Singapore for nine months by the time he leaves the Southeast Asian island in early June. 

Zaller is one of hundreds of Northeastern students taking part in international co-ops this semester. Being in Singapore is exciting because it’s like “a doorway to Southeast Asia,” Zaller says. In addition, the city is in central Asia, allowing him to hop on a flight to other exotic destinations, like Thailand, for the weekend. 

“I got a new passport during COVID, so I haven’t used it all,” Zaller says. “And now I have two pages left in my passport.”

“It’s been an amazing experience,” says Zaller. 

Zaller is studying international business with a supply chain concentration. One day he wants to start his own company. But for now, he wants to enter corporate life. 

The first co-op Zaller had was at a consulting firm in Boston called BCG. For his second go, Zaller wanted one that was client outward facing. 

For the international business major, he must study abroad for a year. 

After applying for co-ops worldwide, he quickly learned there are many obstacles to obtaining an internship, especially because of European visa requirements. Zaller says he wasn’t having much luck in Singapore for the same reasons. 

After a little networking Zaller was able to make a connection at Ernst & Young. He emailed a partner and the internship coordinator, and they set up an interview within a week. By the following week, Zaller had secured a position at Ernst & Young in Singapore. 

A challenge living in Singapore is coordinating a time to talk to friends or family because of the 12-hour time difference. 

The biggest takeaway from his time in Singapore is building a network of friends and business mentors he hopes to keep for the rest of his life. The second takeaway is that he will have to return to the Asia Pacific region. 

“It’s been absolutely amazing to eat here and talk to people who live here,” Zaller says. 

Lastly, he recognizes that he lives comfortably in Singapore, with the luxury of air conditioning, WiFi, and the ability to pay for a delicious meal. 

“A lot of people that are in these countries that you visit don’t necessarily have those sort of opportunities and don’t have the same possibility of, like, ‘I’m gonna fly to Thailand in two weeks,’” says Zaller. “People can’t really do that. It’s nice to acknowledge that I have that opportunity.”

Beth Treffeisen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beth_treffeisen