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Being An Intern in China

Being An Intern in China

I realize I have yet to write an entry about my experience actually working in China (which is a big reason as to why I’m here!), which may be because working here can be a little slow at times, especially during the opening week or so.
Naturally, I only have experience of working with one company in China, so anything I write isn’t necessarily true of every company here, just as you can’t accurately sum up working in London by working in one office, I’m sure there is a great deal of diversity in Chinese workplaces.

One thing I have learned about working in China is that you can’t expect work to fall into your lap. At my office there are quite some few interns in total, with three of these speaking fluent Chinese, so I knew it was important to make myself stand out. This meant hounding my line manager for work every day, to make sure that when work did come up, I would be the first one they would think of.

It’s also important to showcase your own strengths. Having completed a small report by around midday, I was told to “take a break”. Given there were still five or so hours of the day remaining, and having certified that no-one else in the office had any work that needed doing, I decided to use my experience gained during my degree in film to create a detailed storyboard for an upcoming commercial video being filmed by members of the company. As a result I was invited to come along on the shoot and was given two fairly important videos to edit for big American clients, so this has kept me busy for the majority of the internship. It really is about making the most of your time here, rather than sitting back and complaining about the lack of regular work.

Chinese offices (again I can only speculate based on my own experiences) seem to be both more chilled out and a lot quieter that their western counterparts. As we work above a shopping mall, we are free to visit Starbucks at any time during the day to grab a coffee, and the one hour lunchtime is also very relaxed. The boss’ door is always open, so if there are any concerns you can speak to him/her directly. For example, as I wanted to visit Beijing for a few days, I asked my manager if I could take two days off work, and he was more than happy to oblige.

All in all I feel my Shanghai internship has been very successful, with the highlight being the building in which I work. We have a fantastic view of the Pearl Tower and it’s great to be able to take a break every so often and just look out onto Pudong.

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