- Duration: 12 weeks
- University: University of Exeter
- Location: Shanghai, China
- Type of office: Shanghai office
- Industry sector: Marketing & Advertising
- Key assignments: From preparing a marketing report for Burger King to promoting a reception with the US Consul-General. Planning and executing a trade visit for the Irish President Mary McAleese as well as redesigning the company website.
What made you decide to have this internship experience in China?
After four years of studying, I wasn’t ready to sell my soul to a multinational just yet. I wanted to take a break that would count towards my career and also give me the chance to live abroad. Shanghai, ‘the largest center of commerce and finance in mainland China’ looked ideal. I regarded Shanghai as the ‘showpiece’ of the world’s fastest-growing major economy and an intriguing mix of both old and new influences. The city has fully embraced technology and modernity and exudes a cosmopolitan character, marked by contemporary urban living, futuristic skyscrapers and a bustling financial district. The lively nightlife also contributed to my decision.
Why did you choose to find an internship through Next Step Connections?
NSC had a proper website and looked the most reliable out of the companies I contacted. They also seemed to be in contact with a wider range of companies than their competitors. This all turned out to be true – they’re helpful and have an office in Shanghai. My biggest concern was arriving in Shanghai and finding that Next Step Connections didn’t actually exist! Thankfully that wasn’t the case – they collected me from the airport and helped me move my cases to the room. They helped me register and fill in the residency documents. After the first couple of days Next Step connections left me to do my own thing and explore Shanghai. They’re only a phone call away though in case you need any assistance.
What do you do at your internship?
I work for a Marketing & Advertising company. Their office is located in the prestigious HSBC-IFC building in the financial district of Lujiazui in Pudong. My work is very varied, which suits me perfectly. Today I am preparing a marketing report for Burger King and last week our team was at the U.S. Expo pavilion promoting Sunkist oranges concluding with a VIP drink reception with the Consul-General. During my first week I assisted with planning and executing a trade visit for the Irish President Mary McAleese. I am currently working on a project to redesign the company website, working closely with the programmer and company management in order to create the desired image for our company.
How do you like your internship?
I’ve been very lucky – the people I work with are friendly and great fun. We socialize outside of work on a regular basis and our boss often takes us to lunch at superb restaurants. I have been given real responsibility in projects from the outset. This was a bit daunting to begin with, however I have learnt fast and the whole experience has been good preparation for the next step in my career. I have made some close friends who I expect will be friends for life. This includes the other three interns I work with, Anthony from California and Sophia and Barbara from Mexico. Everyone here speaks exceptional English and the office is more modern and futuristic than most offices in London or New York.
How do you like living in Shanghai?
Every day is a novelty – even after two months! You can spend the weekend partying in some of Shanghai’s lively nightspots, wander around the winding alleyways of the French Concession or even practice your Chinese in local markets – while the locals stand by and eat their fried chicken’s feet! There really is something here for every taste, including food. All the different styles of Chinese cooking are available to eat in Shanghai, ranging from Chinese food as we know it (Cantonese style) to the more bizarre local dishes such as sea cucumber (a large sea slug which looks like a cucumber) or Birds Nest Soup – the main ingredient being an actual birds nest! Shanghai has a special call centre (which we call ‘the magic number’) which you can call and ask for pretty much anything. For example, you can ask them in English to tell a taxi driver in Chinese where you want to go, or they can simply text you the address in Chinese.
How is the housing accommodation that Next Step Connections provided?
The studio which NSC arranged is modern and spacious. The view from the balcony is great. Towels and sheets are changed regularly and the staff are very helpful. The metro station is conveniently situated one minute away, making getting to work each day as stress-free as possible. Getting to and from the centre of town by taxi costs about RMB 15 (about £1.50 or $2). The shops and restaurants of Xujiahui are even closer. Other accommodation I have seen is also very impressive. Sophia has fantastic views of the Bund and Huangpu River from her bedroom! There are also all sorts of shops and restaurants nearby, including a Pizza Hut, McDonalds and KFC – just in case you are feeling home sick.
What are your plans after you finish your internship here in Shanghai?
I plan to stay in China for one or two months and then return to London to work but we’ll see what happens. Ultimately, I plan to work in international management or management consulting. Spending two months in Shanghai for my internship should be valuable experience in such a competitive employment market. I anticipate that studying Mandarin should also put me ahead of the majority of applicants when I return to London. Staying in China for another month is also an appealing option. This will enable me to learn more Mandarin and get to explore the country when my placement finishes.
Is Shanghai a place where you would like to come back to live and work?
I could be very tempted, particularly for six months or something like that.
Would you recommend Next Step Connections to your friends?
Interviewer: Michelle Kirina Chan