15 Jul Nervous? Yes. Excited? You bet.
A quick introduction about myself seems to be in order. My name is Jordan and at this time of writing I sit having just received confirmation that I have successfully made it through to my second year of Economics at University College London. If you guessed what kind of internship I’m likely to be doing, you’d probably be spot on: like the vast majority of economics students I’m looking into a career in finance.
I say looking, because as the year progressed I’ve revisited this ambition more than once. In fact, it’s one of the things I’m looking forward to most about this internship, the chance to see what working in such a sector is like for a month, and whether it’s something I could see myself doing for much more than a month. I’ll be working with a Swedish multinational firm. I’ll be taking on a business development role within the organization, helping to set up a consumer loyalty program with some of my fellow interns, so I’m really excited about the prospect of taking on a serious project.
Perhaps what I’m most excited about though, is coming back to Hong Kong. I visited a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. I’ve heard people call it a kind of ‘China lite’ seeing as it’s not quite such an extreme culture shock as somewhere in China proper. I visited Shenzhen on the same trip and the difference was astounding, Hong Kong was definitely a type of China I could relate to and so the chance to work there for a month was something I jumped at.
I’ve been asked pretty frequently if I’m nervous about the experience, and honestly the answer is yes. China can be pretty daunting for a westerner, the culture is such a stark difference at times it can seem almost an alien part of the world, so while I’m excited to go back to a place where I had enjoyed holidaying so much, I’m concerned about the business climate. I’ve heard westerners can sometimes be perceived as rude, abrasive and loud; generally disruptive to harmonious institutions, while we see ourselves as confident, taking the initiative and speaking our minds when we feel it’s necessary. Hopefully this internship will be an easy point of entry, a mix of Swedish values and Chinese work culture. But we shall see.
Absolute has assured me there will be plenty to do and see whilst I’m there, not least because I will be linking up with a whole lot of other interns while I’m there. I’m looking forward to this. While I do want to learn about the lifestyle and culture in Hong Kong, it’s nice to have the assurance that I won’t be completely isolated from what’s familiar, and there undoubtedly be a large contingent of interns who I can share my experiences – good or bad – with. They’ve organized a trip to Macau which is something I’m especially keen on seeing, I’ve never been, but I’ve taken up playing casual poker games every fortnight with a group of guys from the Lacrosse club at university. I quite like the idea of putting these skills to the test at a (very) low stakes table in Asia’s gambling Mecca.
I’ve always subscribed to the notion that expectations cause all sorts of problems, so in this case I really am trying to keep a clear head and an open mind. Nervous? Yes. Excited? You bet. Do I have any idea how this month is going to turn out? Not at all.