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Shanghai Internships

From O’ahu Hawaii all the way to Shanghai, China, I could say that the idea of flying half way around the world (alone) truly frightened me. I had studied abroad in London prior to this internship, but there is no similar comparison that I could think of between China and the UK, other than how they're capitals are both huge cities. Although I had lived across the world before, an intimidating new city awaited my arrival.

Absolute Internship turns the spotlight on program alumni, following them on their journey from summer interns to young professionals.

Aneela Aziz from the United Kingdom was an Absolute Intern in summer 2015, working in the cut-throat fashion industry of Shanghai.

1. What have you been up to since your summer as an Absolute Intern?

I started a new job internationally as an Executive Creative Marketer within the fashion industry for a manufacturer in Dhaka, Bangladesh, supplying different retail brands across the globe.

2. How did the program help you along your career path?

Having international experience in China working within fashion definitely gave me the opportunity to land a job abroad, as the skills and experience I gained during my internship showed that I am able to adapt to different cultures, environments, and people in a new country.

3. What aspect of the program was most useful to your career?

The networking events and meeting people who work in different industries such as the H&M company visit. I feel that this really benefited me as it was based in the fashion industry. It was really interesting to meet professionals who work in the fashion sector, as it helped me partly make a decision as to what I wanted to do after I finished the internship.

4. What was the biggest challenge you faced while interning in Shanghai and how did you overcome it?

It was the language barrier. As I did not know Chinese, it was harder to communicate effectively both at and outside of work. Also the overall culture, work environment and lifestyle. I just went with an open mind, did not take anything to heart, and was patient as I believe that especially when you adapt to a new country, you have to give it time and it will all come together in the end. From your first impressions to going through the experience living and working in Shanghai, you learn a lot and you learn to adapt to different situations.

5. What do you miss most about your Absolute Summer?

I miss all the interns. We became one family whilst living in Shanghai and it was nice to meet different people from around the world. We created such a tight bond; I really missed the whole experience when I left Shanghai, from going on different trips to going out for dinner, even visiting MacDonald’s! It was like heaven for me as I missed my food back in the UK. The total Absolute experience was amazing and I'll never forget what a great time I had.

6. What's next for you? 

I live in a tropical area with an excessive amount of palm trees. As my plane departed, that was the last thing I saw; The palm trees swooshing by. I knew 'that was it' and there was no going back. Despite the endless research I did on Shanghai, I couldn’t help feeling clueless about the upcoming 6 weeks. I convinced myself that the feeling was just part of the adventure and experience.

I dream of becoming a foreign affairs reporter. I came to China to get my first glimpse at what it is like to report in a country with a different language and different press regulations. My journalism internship at an online media publication, has given me the opportunity to do so.

If I could tell someone who was pondering upon the idea of interning in a different country and has the opportunity to do so, I’d say, go for it. It changes the way you think and view the world. It’s a place out of your comfort zone that will only lead to growth and endless stories to tell when you get back home.

China internship A full time internship does not mean having to work all summer long. In fact, traveling can be done and should be done.
Traveling in China was full of fun and some of my favorite experiences abroad. What surprised me was how easy it was to get around in China given the affordable prices and various transportation methods.
While working in Shanghai, I had the opportunity to make weekend trips to Hangzhou, Suzhou and Beijing.

Chinese mealTo reflect on this experience is one of the best things I can do. Reflecting allows you to relive moments that are unique to your perspective, which allows you to recognize how much you have grown from the first week to the last week. You could say that China changed me for the better.

Nanjing trip interns I believe my favorite cultural activity that Absolute organized for us was the trip to Nanjing. Since we stayed in Nanjing for the weekend we were able to take advantage of the city.
After a quick train ride from Shanghai to Nanjing we hit the ground running and made our way to Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum. As soon as we arrived I noticed that the skies were blue and the trees were lush with varying hues of green. It was meant to rain, but instead we were left with this reward after climbing 397 steps.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I arrived in Shanghai — I hadn’t been anywhere like it before. China itself seemed like such a big entity to me at the time that to conceive what I would expect seemed like an impossible task. American intern Shanghai So after the first few days of living in Shanghai I was able to build a relationship with it and understand it a bit more with each passing day. I have found that there are many cultural similarities between Shanghai and my country and even state.

Intern first days  Do you know how it feels to go to a country where no one in your family has gone? Well I do. China is the last place I thought I would be spending the summer before my final year in college, let alone intern there. Well, it’s only been 2 weeks and I can say it was one of the best decisions I have made.

My experience in Shanghai during my freshmen summer is one unbelievable, ridiculous, sometimes frustrating, but overall rewarding opportunity that I am so grateful to have had. It was a summer that challenged me and taught me things that I will not forget.

Shanghai welcomed me with a blast of hot air, a wave of tired travelers, and a fight that broke out due to a K-Pop group.
Chinese style dessert
After a grueling 14-hour flight, my friend and I arrived at Pudong International Airport where we were greeted by our program coordinators and a few of the other interns in the program. We were taken to our apartment where we would be living for the next six weeks; Initially, I was worried about the size and utilities of our living space, but I was pleasantly surprised by a large, apartment-style hotel with modern televisions, a functional kitchen, and my own separate bedroom.

Amazing view shanghaiTraveling to China was a fantastic experience with countless opportunities to learn and develop as a person. My biggest piece of advice to a future intern is to not have any expectations coming into your trip and internship. Come with an open mind to learn as much as possible and let the experience change you and develop you, as it will. If you come with a certain mindset of how the time is going to be or how you think it should be, you will be disappointed in the end.

Shanghai Work viewMy time throughout Shanghai was filled with ups and downs.  There were many moments of being uncomfortable.  From my internship to interacting with the locals, I was always coming across something new. That is what this trip is all about.  Putting yourself outside your comfort zone to create meaningful experiences.  It was a fun journey.  From eating scorpions to working at an investment bank, the days were exhausting because of how much there was to do!  Now that I am back home, I can already tell that I’m going to miss my time in China.
Pack light! While preparing for your excursion to the Far East, remember that you will have access to so many cheap products. These products are inexpensive and your times at the fake market will be some of the most fun experiences.  You are able to purchase designer merchandise to authentic (or close to) sport clothing. You will quickly build up your wardrobe. I did not take advantage of this enough, but while shopping in the United States I regret not purchasing more clothing.  It seems “sketchy” at first, but looking back, I could have saved a lot of money on wardrobe. 

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