My internhip in Shanghai
My name is Tobias, I am 24 years old and I am a student of business sciences in the sixth semester. In my studies I focused on intercultural studies, especially in the Chinese-speaking area. Therefore I have studied abroad at the University of Shanghai for four months.
After finishing my semester I had two spare months before I had to go back to my university in Germany and decided to apply for an internship in China. My biggest wish was to stay in Shanghai and I started to look for an internship there. It turned out, that applying for an internship was China is quite hard, because „Guanxi“ is a very important factor – which could be translated with “relations” but it is a far more complicated system. Basically it means having good relations, favour and long-lasting business connections. If you do not have any contacts in China, it is nearly impossible to find an internship there. After realizing that, I contacted Studentsgoabroad.
I uploaded some documents as my resume, a letter of motivation and a variety of fields I would like to work in. All this information was processed and forwarded to the cooperation partner in Shanghai. After just a couple of days, I received a call from the Chinese office and they told my about having found a suitable position for me. An interview with the responsible person from the company was arranged the following week. I introduced myself and all the fields of activity as well as my responsibilities were explained to me. After my personal agreement within the interview I was already accepted as an intern for my favoured time and received a conformation which was necessary to apply for a visa.
Company, employees and tasks
Finally, I completed my internship in the 28-level office skyscraper in the city centre of Shanghai, which accommodated apart from our little firm (11 employees) more than a dozen other Chinese companies. My former employer is a branch of the biggest magnetic producer in China. This subsidiary focused on the purchase and resell of show cases in shop-windows, selling shelves, etc. It operates internationally, therefore my main task was to translate, research for potential customers as well as contacting German- and English-speaking companies via phone and mail as well as the maintenance of existing business connections. It was definitely not the most diversified internship, but I had the chance to watch my Chinese colleagues, was good involved and could make my own suggestions. For example I implemented the “English corner” where I used to help my colleagues improving their English skills by discussing different topics as the similarities and differences between our cultures. Generally, I could improve my knowledge of the Chinese language and culture, because Chinese was spoken much more than English. Furthermore I was happy to be highly involved. Even though I was only an intern and all others had to follow their daily business and routines I never felt left out. As soon as problems appeared or I had to deal with any kind of problems everyone was happy to help me and also after our working hours my colleagues talked to me. They provided any information I was interested in and were also very interested to learn and discuss about Germany, Europe and any other topics. As a highlight I was invited to two company events: to the Chinese New Year which comes along with the ending of the business year there. Over all I learned a lot about the Chinese culture, which I could not have learned at university and in addition I had the chance to get to know the real working life in China.
In summary, I am really happy having found Studentsgoabroad, especially after talking to many friends which had been looking for an internship in Shanghai without success and having experienced the difficulties of finding an internship without relationships in China. It was a great experience and it helped me a lot to dive into the working live of the Chinese culture after my semester abroad. The excellent care and constant availability on the one hand from Studentsgoabroad and on the other hand from the Chinese partner organization made it possible to have a contact person for every possible problem which could potentially occur. If you are planning to go abroad for an internship, I would strongly recommend to get placed by Studentsgoabroad, because the placement fee is definitely worth it. If you do not have any knowledge of the Chinese language and do not knot the city at all, Studentsgoabroad will organize an airport transfer, the accommodation,… for you.
Finally some – in my opinion – important hints. If this is your first trip to China, you will definitely experience a culture shock. The culture is absolutely different and cannot be compared to the one you are used to, which is already reflected in aspects like the hygiene factors and can be noticed immediately. Also the meals might be uncommon and you need to get used to it. One very important factor is, that you learn at least the very basics of the Chinese language before you go to China, because very few people speak English in China. That is even the case in the most modern city of China with the most western standards: Shanghai. Especially taxi drivers, restaurant workers and shop assistants, throughout people you are having contact with every day, speak exclusively Chinese. If you are willing to accept all that, Shanghai is an awesome choice! Shanghai can be described as “the city that never sleeps”. There is always something going: many possibilities to do sightseeing, to enjoy life, to educate oneself culturally or just go shopping for low price. For all party-loving people the clubs in Shanghai can be highly recommended (also cheap for non-chinese people). Furthermore there are many travel destinations, which all can be reached easily within very short time, for example Hangzhou, Suzhou or Nanjing. These locations as well as diverse others are worth a visit. Finally my personal recommendation: Absolutely get into it and enjoy your time there! Have a good trip!