This semester, several of our international students in Shenzhen stepped into the workplace for some interesting internship opportunities. They have been soaking up experience and expertise in a wide range of industries, from AI, to international commerce, to consumer goods.
For most, it was their first experience working in China. After a year of hard study in the classroom, they had the chance to apply their new skills and learn from a new environment. Internship experience is a great boost for the resume. As international students, it can be quite difficult to find the right position to accommodate for potential language barriers and unique expertise. However, these exceptional students also satisfy a growing need in many corporations, startups and institutions for international talent in China.
Today’s interns are tomorrow’s great lawyers, change makers and business leaders. These internships are an important start in opening up a bright future with plenty of career development potential. But, there are also many questions! How could foreign students find an internship in China? How does the internship feel? Here are some answers:
Chinwe Alli, Year 2 LL.M., STL, Nigeria. @Shanghai Representative Office of the International Chamber of Commerce
I am interning at the Shanghai Representative Office of the International Chamber of Commerce. I work as a legal intern and the internship is for a period of 6 months. As a result of the restrictions caused by the Corona Virus, I carry out my task remotely.
I faced a number of difficulties when trying to get a place to intern. As a law student looking to intern in a law firm or a law company in China, the first challenge I faced was the requirement of the PRC Bar exams. This was a challenge because, although I am licensed to practice law in Nigeria, most of the Chinese law firms I researched needed the interns to be a PRC qualified lawyer. Another difficulty I faced was the COVID-19 pandemic. Many law firms and companies cancelled their internship program because of the pandemic, also, there were restrictions for inter-province travels. These COVID-related issues made me lose out on two internship opportunities in Shenzhen and Shanghai.
During the internship, I used a number of skills I acquired during my time at STL. While at STL, I enrolled in two research courses – academic legal research and international foreign research. This course was very helpful in my internship when I was given a task to prepare a presentation on foreign direct investment in Europe. In addition, the class on World Trade Organization Law and International Investment and Commercial Arbitration was also very helpful.
Prior to the ICC, I interned at a Chinese IP service company. Comparing the internship at the ICC with that of the IP company, I would say that the ICC engaged me with more legal related tasks. I was able to apply the skills I acquired from STL. Although I was employed as a legal intern in the marketing department of the Chinese IP company, I was hardly given any legal related task. Instead, my major duty was translating documents from Chinese to English and vice versa.
There are numerous benefits of working in China. First, it helped me in improving my Mandarin skills. I currently hold an HSK 5 Chinese Proficiency Certificate, thus working in a Chinese organization helped me integrate what I have learnt in a work environment. This way I was able to build on my Chinese proficiency as well as learn new terminologies.
Gillian Mutyambizi, Year 2, Management, PHBS, Zimbabwe. @Skylark Global
For this particular internship position, I didn’t face much difficulties. It was actually posted in a WeChat Group. I sent out my CV, got invited for an interview and passed. However, it can be challenging to get an internship with flexible working days since we still have to take classes. I am subscribed to some pages on WeChat that post jobs and internship positions on a regular basis. I recommend others to do the same.
The company is a new start-up that recently got funding from Venture Capitals. I am in the Business Development department and some of the tasks include writing press releases for the company, drafting contracts and proposals, digital marketing strategy & business development as well as digital market testing & commercialization.
Besides the work experience in general, I get to understand how the Chinese people work and do business. China’s economy is growing fast; therefore, understanding the people behind the economy’s growth is amazing. The working environment is good and comfortable. Working there has been a good experience as there is so much to learn.
Juandi Sanchez Fernandez, Year 2 LL.M., STL, Spain. @Dorabot Inc.
I worked at Dorabot for three months. Dorabot is an international company based in different countries. It is specialized in warehouse robotics and logistics. At that time, Dorabot was looking for someone from abroad and Dean Charly (Zhang Chenli, STL Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Development, and Career Services) contacted the international student group. I applied for this position and was interviewed after one or two days, and got this job in a few days. It was really a quick process.
As for the internship hunting strategy, the language may be the largest barrier for us and the internship market in Shenzhen is not that broad compare to Beijing or Shanghai. But for those in Shenzhen, I suggest contacting the school directly. Also, sending e-mails to companies may be not helpful because they receive many similar emails every day, just calling may be more direct and personal.
As soon as I arrived, I was welcomed nicely. We have 3 people in the legal department, and the CEO always contacted me to give me some tasks, which gave me a rich experience that is not only legal-related but also business-oriented. My coworkers, manager and even CEO were really close to me. They invited me to different events that I did not feel I was an intern but a true worker which was great. More importantly, I got to participate in important projects. It made me become the direct link between the legal department and CEO and had an important role when assessing certain business transactions.
I am willing to find another job in China, I have been in love with Chinese culture since I was 14 years old. After coming to Peking University, my dream became true. Finding a job may be a good way for me to know more about the people and culture.
Cristiano Chiang, Year 2, Management, PHBS, Italy. @FJ Dynamics
I found this internship on job recruiting platforms. It is not very easy because you need to invest a lot of time looking for a job and there are not so many positions for foreigners. However, if you commit enough time and carefully target companies related to high tech industry, it is possible to find jobs that need foreigners to do business developing or marketing.
I worked at FJ Dynamics from September to December. My colleagues were quite friendly to me, since this was the first time they hired a foreigner so they tried to make me feel comfortable and let me understand the daily tasks, especially the daily meeting. Every morning, I had to make a report, it was pressuring at first because I was not used to report my daily work. It got better after the first month. I really appreciated the way they behave, because it was important for me to find the confidence to get along with them.
Some marketing theories and data management that I have learned during courses were useful, but I learned more on the job. During this period, I got to know the corporate environment better. There are differences between westerners and Chinese in managing the company, e.g., different requirements, pressure. Once you get to know the way to manage the company from the inside, you will have the advantage to develop from outside. Such knowledge is valuable both in Chinese and the overseas market.
The best highlight of these 3 months was our global product launch. The company needed to introduce products to the overseas market, and I represented the company to deliver a speech. We recorded this event for the whole day. It was very stressful for me because I have to memorize many characteristics of each product. Those products are about agricultural robots so it was completely new for me. But after that, I gained a lot of confidence, especially leadership and public speaking.
Written by Su Jianxin
Photos by Chinwe Alli, Gillian Mutyambizi, Juandi Sanchez Fernandez, Cristiano Chiang