Yun Wong speaks about his still on-going internship experience in Zhuhai. Thanks to the British Council’s GenerationUK funding he had the “opportunity to really test and develop my knowledge and ability in a new and challenging environment”
Tell us a little about yourself/ Tell us about your internship, your position
My name is Yun Wong and I’m a recent graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering and Business Management.
Having pretty much spent the last 18 or so years in education. I wanted to really try something different before committing myself to a career path and a full time job.
When I heard about the chance to undertake an internship in China I knew this was huge opportunity to really test and develop my knowledge and ability in a new and challenging environment. If also gives me a greater insight whether or not I would enjoy the chosen industry sector.
I’m currently in my third week of a 2 month internship in Zhuhai. I am working in a marketing position for a company specialising in environmentally friendly and organic products. So far my work has involved shadowing one of the Directors to get to know the company and how it is run. I have also been asked to submit some marketing reports to bring a different perspective and viewpoint to some of the companies future plans.
What do you think is different from a Chinese working environment to a Western one?
So far during my internship I really noticed that the workplace in Zhuhai has a much more communal atmosphere than those I’ve experienced back in the U.K. Although it may be due to the relatively small workforce in the office but everyone seems to pretty much know each other really well. There always seems to be a conversation going on in the office. Everyone seems to interact more as family or friends rather than associates.
With regards to the work I have been doing, the work has been very varied. Not everyday is spent doing the same thing. Some days I will be writing reports. others spent in meetings discussing expansion plans, discussing company website designs, attending dinners with business partners. I have even been out to the countryside to see first-hand the agricultural work and research being carried out by the company. I’m not completely sure what I will be doing when I get into the office so that definitely keeps things interesting.
Meetings with partner companies also seem to differ quite a lot than from what I have experienced back in the U.K.. Almost every firm I have visited has had a special table to make tea on for guests, meetings are generally feel a lot more comfortable and less formal. They seem to be more of a social occasion in which business is discussed rather than solely focusing on business matters. Also I’ve noticed that Chinese style tea is an essential part of any meeting, as all meetings I have been to I’ve been served a cup as a sign of hospitality.
What did you gain from the internship? Do you think it was helpful for the future? Why?
Even though I have only spent 3 weeks in Zhuhai, I have already felt more independent and confident in myself. It was quite jarring and intimidating to be suddenly living in a completely different country with a different culture and language. However, I found the best way to cope is just to relax and immerse yourself as much as possible. In the first week I was pretty nervous about interacting with the Chinese locals in case I did something wrong or offensive accidentally. Now I’m generally more confident when interacting with my colleagues or shop vendors, as I soon realised that people will generally be willing to help you if they see you are actively trying to participate. Hopefully I can carry this attitude into the future to help involve myself more and contribute more to any future work.
I have also gained some pretty good insight into some of the differences between Chinese and British cultural and business practices. Hopefully as China further opens up its economy to foreign companies, this knowledge and experience will give me an advantage should I be involved in working with Chinese partners in the future. Market research in China has also allowed me to see how Chinese consumer behaviour and trends differs from the Western counterparts so hopefully this can be utilised should any of my future work involve expansion into the Chinese market.
With regards to my desired internship sector of business and marketing, Zhuhai seemed to be a ideal place to intern. It has incredibly close ties to Hong Kong and Macau as well as being very close to the Guangzhou (the third largest city in China) means that a lot of international business occurs here. This means there was a lot of opportunity to find out about business practices in China.
Another one of the main reasons I chose Zhuhai to carry out my internship was because I wanted to experience a different side of China than the mega cities that are always being shown on the news (with the grey looming building, smog clouds and cars everywhere). Zhuhai is such a contrast to this image, its incredibly scenic and green due to the climate, and the air quality is good due to its proximity to the coast. Also having arrived in November it was nice to go from a miserable British Winter to a climate with actual sunlight and warmth.
Even though its a small city (in comparison to the rest of China) there’s still loads to experience with regards to Chinese culture such as Temples, Palaces, nature spots, clubs and great food just to name a few. So I get the best of both worlds by getting to live and work in the more relaxed environment of a smaller city while still getting to experience China.
Would you recommend doing an internship with IC?
I would definitely recommend interning with InternChina, They’ve were really helpful in arranging my internship and making sure the process of travelling to and settling into China went as smoothly as possible. They’ve been really approachable and helpful both before I got to China and during my time here so far. Before I came out to China, they gave me several different options for companies to hold my internship at, then when I chose the one I wanted they put me in touch with the company to talk through what the internship would be like and what I would likely be doing. Therefore I was already prepared for what was expected of me when I first got into the office.
IC also make sure that you get associated with the other interns quickly and hold weekly events and meals with the interns which was helpful in getting over the initial fear of getting into China and not knowing anyone here. Pretty much as soon as I got off the boat and dropped my stuff off at the apartment, I was invited to go meet some of the other local interns for some drinks, which pretty much put my fears of not knowing anyone here to ease, as well as leaving me even more jet-lagged than before.
Overall the guys in the office are pretty like-minded with the interns so they pretty much know what the essentials are for settling into the groove of working here. Also seeing as they’ve been in Zhuhai for a while, they know the best spots for going out, food, drinking etc. which has also been really useful as finding that information can be tough for a non-Chinese speakers.