Over the years, InternChina has amassed an alumni network of thousands of people. Some of our former participants have returned to the UK and secured prestigious graduate jobs. Many have taken up jobs in Asia and others have travelled the world. We love to hear about our alumni and what they are up to. So, naturally we were delighted to recently hear from Abi Prendergast, who has followed her dreams of being a writer internationally after completing an InternChina programme in 2017. Abi has told us all about her experience in Zhuhai, and how it helped her to realise an ambition that she could only once dream of.
Here is her story.I am a former University of Sussex student and completed an internship with InternChina in 2017. I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for the amazing opportunity.
Since graduating, I have set up my own business as a content writer and I am now traveling the world. I work with clients from all different fields. And I have been able to do this thanks to the company I interned with. Amazingly, they allowed me to continue working from them remotely. This helped me get the confidence to approach other companies and by the time I graduated, I already had enough clients to make writing my full time profession.
It has been nearly two years since I left for China. I still do regular work for Delta Bridges remotely, although they are no longer my sole client. I am planning on meeting them soon for dinner in South East China. I can’t wait to see them all again and do some more networking.
It has been my dream to write and to travel since I was in school, however, I never thought it would be possible. Especially not a few months after graduating. The internship has shown me what is possible and has given me the confidence to do what I love and the experience to go with it. I have networked with other companies I met during my internship and have ongoing work from other media outlets in China. So it’s all been very exciting!
So overall, I just wanted to say thank you, because InternChina has changed my life. I am forever grateful to everyone who was involved in making the experience possible for First Generation Scholars at the University of Sussex. I could never have anticipated being where I am now.
– Abi Pendergast: InternChina 2017 Alumni
We had a short chat with the Director of Operations at Weiguo Solutions. Weiguo, 威国 “Way Gwo”, meaning “To Shake the Nation” was established in 2007, and is an employee-owned business head-quartered in Hong Kong. Here is a brief insight into the internships that Weiguo Solutions offers and how it can make a statement on your CV.
Introduce yourself and your company
Hi I’m Abs, from Mauritius. I have a BSc in Psychology and I am currently Director of Operations at Weiguo Solutions. Weiguo Solutions is a company that does product design, development and distribution in the outdoor industry, especially for travel and sports gear.
Why is Weiguo Solutions based in Zhuhai?
Zhuhai is a very light city, meaning it’s not very developed yet. It is undergoing development and there are a lot of opportunities and new things happening here. It is also very close to Macau and Hong Kong making it very convenient.
Could you provide a brief overview of your internship positions at Weiguo Solutions?
We usually take people in finance and we have taken on a lot of interns recently in our operations department; meaning supply chain, customer logistics, and quality control. We also do a lot of design and development which is a new area where we try to work with InternChina to get some more people in graphic design and design.
What do you expect from an intern?
Ambitious. We need them to be ambitious!
Do you have any tips for interns to get the most out of their time in China?
You have got to be outgoing and got to be ready to try new things. It is important to be passionate and ready to embrace the experience when you get here; the food, travel and culture. You will get a completely different way of looking at the world.
How do you feel experience abroad can impact an intern’s future career?
I think it gives interns a better perspective of how the job world works; in terms of management, leadership, how you get into a job, what do you make of a job. It’s full immersion as we say.
How does your company benefit from interns?
Interns bring new ideas; you know us in management have been doing a job nine to ten years so we’re not in touch with the academic aspect of things. Interns bring a new way of looking at and approaching things.
We spent a morning with the Overseas Brand Marketing Manager for Recycling Times Media Corporation to ask him a few questions about his company, internships and China. Here is a brief summary of what he had to say. For the full interview with Taylor go to our YouTube channel.
Could you introduce us to your company?
Recycling Times Media or RT Media is an industry publication for the print consumables industry. We publish a monthly magazine and organise trade shows for suppliers, retailers, wholesalers and franchisers to meet face to face and discover new products.
Tell us about your internship positions.
Whilst there are some baseline duties that our interns are required to fulfil (mainly managing our overseas social media channels), it is my approach to lay out the ground work of what the brand marketing department does, and then help guide interns into a project based roll that best suits their skills, interests and timeframes with the company.
What are the benefits for an intern coming to RT Media?
We have 50 employees here in Zhuhai, and out of them only two are non-Chinese; so any interns coming from outside of China to work here will get a very unique and wholly Chinese experience.
Tips for an intern to get the most out of their time in China.
I think it’s important to try stray off the beaten path a little bit, a little bit of adventurous spirit can go a long way. Chinese are extremely and notoriously accommodating, so it’s really important to not be too intimidated by the big cultural and language barriers.
Describe a part of business culture etiquette in China.
When you take a business card always use two hands and take time to examine the content of the card.
How do you like living and working in Zhuhai？
I really like it! Zhuhai is an amazing city; we have the coast here, we have great proximity to Macau and Hong Kong, and of course it’s always easy to get out into the countryside if you are looking to explore some of the more traditional elements that China has to offer.
If you are excited about doing an internship with a company such as Recycling Times apply here.
Across the globe the travel and tourism industry comprises of 266 million jobs and contributes to 9.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) globally. The impact of the hospitality industry on future economic growth globally, cannot be denied.
Over the next ten years China’s hospitality industry is expected to become a $100 billion industry.
As China’s middle class continues to grow, their tastes are becoming ever more sophisticated and this is especially true for travel in and out of China. According to the McKinsey Quarterly, by 2022 middle-class citizens will make up to 75% of China’s total urban population, this will be matched by China’s growing trend for leisure and travel in China.
As part of China’s 12th ‘Five Year Plan’ tourism was declared as one of the core components in China’s economic growth engine. Through direct investment, provincial government authorities around China plan to further promote tourism. Key tourist development cities are the areas of Beihai; Kunming; Yangzhou; Lijiang; Sanya and Yangshuo. These areas are not only being developed to become the top travel destinations for the Chinese but also to gain international recognition as a “must go” destinations with facilities for an international audience. This level of investment, however, is not only exclusive to these areas. In the South of China, the Pearl River Delta area, hotspots like Zhuhai are receiving a significant amount of investment and are developing at a considerable rate.
Since 2014 China’s economy has slowed down, GDP growth for the first half of 2015 was 7% compared to the 7.4% in 2014. The Chinese economy is now being restructured to focus more on the tertiary industry and economic growth is being geared towards consumption rather investment.
In the first quarter of 2015, consumption generated more than 50% of GDP growth, the highest in 10 years.
As China’s hospitality and tourism industry has grown, so has the demand for qualified workers. This may in-turn lead to the hospitality and tourism industry becoming one of the largest employers. Over the next few years the hospitality and tourism industry is expected to become one of China’s largest employers. By 2021 the industry’s direct contribution to employment is forecasted to expand to 26.6 million jobs. International hoteliers like Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton, InternContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Kempinski and Four Seasons are recognising the growing market for hotel development in China as part of their corporate strategies.
However, the growth of this industry is currently limited by the relatively low supply of qualified and trained hospitality staff in China. Hospitality and Tourism training is not a common programme to offer in many Chinese universities. This has lead to many hotelier giants like the Marriott in Zhuhai (ZHHT03, ZHHT04) and the Crowne Plaza in Chengdu (CDHT03, CDHT05, CDHT06) to look worldwide for staff and interns to become part of a global corporation to launch their international careers. A fantastic opportunity for any individual!
The significance of China’s hospitality and tourism industry cannot be ignored and it will be interesting to see how and in what way this industry develops.
For your chance to develop an international hospitality career, apply here!
Andrew studies ‘International Hotel Management’ in his 3rd year at the University of West London. He is enrolled in a four year program in which one of the years must be spend abroad which led him to apply for an internship at the Crowne Plaza Panda Garden in Chengdu.
The 5 star hotel is located 45 minutes outside of the city center and is only 5 minutes away from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding which is the biggest facility of this kind in the world. It is home to 60 giant pandas, but also has some red pandas and it is one of the biggest reasons foreign guests come to stay in the Crowne Plaza Panda Garden.
Andrew decided to do an internship in China to gain experience in an international company, where he is able to practice the knowledge he learned in several of his classes.
“I really enjoyed studying finance because it will be of great value to me when I obtain my goal and become a general hotel manager in the future.”
The main tasks of Andrew’s internship are making sure that the foreign guests will have an excellent time in Chengdu. As soon as they arrive, he prepares them with a welcome pack, a map of Chengdu as well as the panda base and makes sure they have everything they need.
“I start working at 11am every day, which gives me enough time to work out. Sometimes I even go for a swim in the pool. Afterwards I often eat pancakes and bacon in the hotel restaurant before I get ready for work.”
Andrew gets to experience the dream of living and eating in a 5 star hotel every day.
If you want to know more about Andrew’s experience and see how the hotel looks like, watch our video below:
If you are studying something similar as Andrew and want to gain international experience, apply now!
You always wanted to know what journalism in China is like?
Check out our Interview with Jean-Jacques Verdun (JJ) who established in 2008 the now very successful Media and PR agency Delta Bridges. The simpatico/ likable French Business man speaks about his background, his business philosophy “Long-term” as well as of the chances and challenges this working environment implies.
In addition to that he explains the importance of English and flexibility in China. His company provides a real internship opportunities with a lot of responsibility. An experience which one cannot take for granted. The so called “editors” have to evolve a new set of skills in China in order to do their research and to not cross a line in terms of media sensitivity in the country.
We are in the heart of Guangdong, we are in the Pearl River Delta, which is much more dynamic than the rest of the Guangdong province, which is also much more dynamic than the rest of China!
According to JJ, doing business in China is very rewarding and in 99% of his cases he has only had good experiences.
Have a look at this short Video to meet a man who also is known for his positive attitude and good sense of humour: “I might be wrong, but then I’m French, I’m allowed to exaggerate”. You can find the full interview below the video. Enjoy!
- Tell us a little about yourself and your company
I’m a French citizen. In fact half French, half American, because my mother is from America. But still, more French than American.
I came to China in 2001 as a French teacher. I was very quickly involved in social activities and we created the first expat club in Zhuhai in 2013. There were such few foreigners here that we really had to support each other.
China was of course not the country it is today. There were no bars, no bar street. It was thus very difficult to meet. And hence the need for such social activities and clubs for us to be able to connect with each other. The Chinese were not as easy to communicate with as today because their English level was not as good as today and also because they had travelled less abroad at that time. So you have to understand that 99% of the Chinese people we met in 2001-2003 never left China. Their parents never left China, their grandparents never left China… so the cultural gab was huge.
Then I created Delta Bridges in 2008 first as a Media Company based in Macau. We had a website providing useful information to the people living in the Pearl River Delta area. Hence the name Delta Bridges. It was hard to set up (the company) in the beginning. We launched (it) in October 2008, at the same time as the big financial crisis worldwide. So the first 2 years were pretty hard because of the financial crisis and no one wanted to pay for advertisement on a new media platform.
But since 2010, we’ve been growing step-by-step and in 2013 we realized that most of our customers were giving us money to buy advertisement on our media platform but they were also giving us money to PR related services such as events, marketing campaigns, business matchmaking, etc.
So last year, in 2014, we decided to officially open a PR agency that is working hand in hand with the media platform.
Some people said: “wow, you’re doing more and more.” So we had to make sure to tell people that we are staying focused while doing business in China. I believe we still keep that focus – I don’t forget that it is important. We just respond to the customer needs. If the customer wants PR services as well as advertisement on our media platform, we should be able to offer these customer services. And in fact, it goes hand-in-hand.
- What is your business philosophy?
Long-term! Step-by-step and long-term.
By the time I started my company I was not a teenager anymore, not even in my 20s. I was 35 so I knew a little bit what I want and what I don’t want. Also what I care about and what I don’t care about. Become incredibly rich and being hated by everyone was no option for me. Of course I want to make money and I want to be successful, I want my company to grow and I want to improve my lifestyle, but not at any cost. So step-by-step and long-term, meaning the relationship with the customers, the relationship with the employees at Delta Bridges.
I want to be able to smile every day when I come to my office. Obviously the working hours in China are longer than in France, and therefore work is a huge part of life here. In fact, there is no division for Chinese people between the working-life and the personal-life that we may have in Europe and especially in France. So it is important for me to enjoy my work, to be happy, to be in a good mood. If it takes 60-70% of my time, I don’t want it to be miserable.
That being said, of course we need to work hard, and sometimes we’re in a bad mood and sometimes we are angry, but overall we work in a happy environment. That matches with what we are doing as PR and Media company – it is about meeting people, about seducing people, about connecting people. So the happier our mood is, the more convincing we can be! So it again goes hand-in-hand.
- What’s the main language spoken at your company?
English is the main language spoken at our company. I’m glad you mention that because a few year ago when InternChina started they thought I wanted French speaking interns, and I don’t mind having French speaking interns, but they need to have an excellent English if they want to work with us as we produce English media. I like my fellow French citizens, I like people from Quebec, I like people from any French speaking country, but to do an internship at my company, they need to have a very good English level. In addition, for anyone who wants to do an internship in Asia, English is really a strong requirement. You need to master English pretty well.
- Tell us about your internship positions
The job title of position number one is “editor”.
We give a lot of responsibility to our interns. It’s a real internship, not a fake internship. They don’t have to brew the coffee or make photocopies – they will go out, meet real people and we expect them to write stories about bars, restaurants, hotels etc. in English. Obviously not in Chinese. That’s one part of the job.
The second part of the job is to prove-read the writings and reviews of their Chinese colleagues. Even though their English level is very high, it’s not high enough to publish their work directly in English. What the interns do is, they write in Chinese and hand over an English version, which sometimes is pretty accurate but it still needs to be prove-read.
The other position comes along with the first one. When we write a review about people and places, it’s not that we just go there and come back. We try to meet the decision-maker of the place. If it is a bar, we try to meet the bar-owner. If it’s a restaurant, we try to meet the General Manager, if not the GM, the director of marketing and sales etc. So there is a lot of PR involved in that job.
I don’t want the people to just go and come back because then the work could also be done in the office. So if you have to go somewhere, you have to build a relationship with the people. That’s important. Also, and that is for the entire team, everyone is expected to find one sales-lead a week. They must try, if they don’t, nothing bad happens to them, but they must try to pass on one lead for the sales people.
So I want my interns, even though they go and write a review about a bar, to keep their eyes open to see what is happening around them on the way to the bar, on the way back and in the bar itself. Bars are just an example here.
We write a review about the bar we don’t charge money for, but maybe these people are also interested to buy advertisement. If they ask questions about it I want my interns to be smart and pass that lead to the sales team. I don’t expect my interns to do sales directly because we are in China and it also depends on how long they are doing their internship. So it all depends on the specific case, whether they want to and how long they stay, for short internships rather not.
- What are the benefits for an intern coming to your company? What do you offer the interns?
Like I mentioned, it’s a real internship, so they are faced with real tasks and real duties. It’s not a puppet internship. If someone wants to come to party and relax, we are not the right company because I assign tasks and I expect the work to be done.
Here is another example: if I take someone young who hasn’t a lot of experience and this someone helps our company by producing some work, I make sure as a counterpart that the produced work is real. The people they meet are real decision-makers and I think that’s a great working experience here in China. We are probably one of the companies who expose their interns the most to the real working-life.
- What challenges does a journalist face in China?
First of all, we don’t call them journalist, we call them editors for the purpose that journalism and journalism media is so sensitive in China. And this applies for all companies: journalists are not referred to as journalists but editors. An editor is like a softer version of a journalist. Writing in a Chinese style for a westerner, someone with a journalism background for example, who comes to do an internship it is quite different. Here it is sensitive. The Chinese are cool, they are welcoming, but you have to be careful with what you expose to the public, that you don’t publish the wrong thing. So if someone publishes something on the website, on the blog or on WeChat, and it’s controversial, you may end up having problems. That’s something to pay attention to for someone with a journalism background. Here they are editors and they have to tone down a little bit with what they want to say.
Second challenge is the evolving in a new environment. Journalists are normally really good in discovering new things and doing research, but they have to set the skills back to nearly zero here. Most of the information is in Chinese, so you have to develop other skills to do your research, which is again a great experience.
- 3 Facts about Business Culture in China
Business culture is very varied. If I talk to my fellow business friends in Zhuhai, their experience and my experience is totally different. Some people still behave in an old-school way to do business, which means long meetings, drinking tea, and sometimes even drinking alcohol, having long dinners, etc. In our particular field, because of the customers we have in PR, we work a lot with faster hotels, local governments, and the kind of people I’d describe as the new China. There is less difference with the west. We talk, we have meetings, we exchange, we send proposals, counter proposals… we are pretty lucky in that sense. The old China can be very eccentric so it can be attractive for some, but I personally prefer the new way.
Fact 2, it’s very fast and dynamic. China has slowed down a little bit the last couple of years, the average economic growth of China is 7.2% this year. We are in the heart of Guangdong, we are in the Pearl River Delta, which is much more dynamic than the rest of the Guangdong province, which is also much more dynamic than the rest of China. My estimate here would be at least 20% economic growth, if the rest of China is 7.2%. I might be wrong, but then I’m French, I’m allowed to exaggerate. Especially European interns that come from a country with 1 or 2% economic growth will feel that difference. So you need to be flexible.
China achieves such an economic growth by working hard. I don’t ask interns to work on the weekend, but sometimes we have unexpected meetings on Saturday or Sunday and like I mentioned, I don’t ask interns to attend, but my regular staff and I go. This means we are pretty much on go 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As this can be tense, you have to find out how to resource yourself.
And now I’m going to say something that may be controversial to what people say in the media, even to business people in China: I find Chinese people are pretty good business people. You don’t reach such a growth if you’re not a correct, smart business person. There are prejudices such as that the Chinese cheat, are never on time, and sure their way of doing business is different than ours, and I’m not saying it is easy, it is tough, but in the end, if all of that was true, the Chinese being late, unreliable, even amongst themselves, they wouldn’t work. Business in china works. It’s the country where business has worked the best the last 30 years.
I also wish people would have a different perspective when they do business here. It might be hard and painful to adapt to it, but it works in their way. In 99% of my cases I’ve had a pretty good experience with businesses in China. It has never happened that someone didn’t pay me, as an example.
If you want to get to now JJ and experience the exciting life of an editor in China, apply now!
Christine Lagarde speaking at the world economic forum.
It’s been a tough year worldwide. There have been international conflicts emerging, shaking our hopes of progress in the globalized era. There was a sharp drop in oil prices that has still yet to take its toll on the global economy. There was the risk of Europe falling into another recession and the general slowing of Asian economies.
While we heard some murmers of “optimism” and “consolidation” from the IMF and the World Bank, we look forward towards 2015 with hopes of improvement.
Aside from the worldwide problems that will have a knock-on effect on China’s largely interdependent economy, China also faces its own domestic challenges.
- GDP per capita must eventually rise, considerably. Currently China is on the 93rd place in the world of GDP per capita. This means for the country that it needs to rise 32% to meet the world average. It needs to triple to equal the European average.
- The huge environmental issue. Some reports state that China cannot use some of its domestic natural resources such as coal, iron and others because it’s too dirty. This is one of the main challenges in China as from a pollution perspective, for example Beijing is becoming one of the worst cities to live in.
- Increase of income leads to larger consumption. The evidence of that could be seen on “Single’s day” which broke all records of purchases across the globe. China has always been regarded as the world factory for international markets but now more and more is consumed domestically.
- A rise in income also raises the real estate price that has led to a housing boom. It is a transitional change from lower to middle class society but it’s something China has to deal with in short term as the gap between rich and poor increases.
- Rising income also puts more strain on an export economy. Workers are demanding bigger salaries and better living and working conditions which pushes up the cost of the end product. Countries are already sourcing products which require more involved handwork to other countries such as Vietnam where labour is cheaper. Meanwhile the government struggles to keep the value of RMB low for its export industry in a country that’s clearly experiencing a boom.
- Consumers are more and more concerned about what they buy. Companies that produce for the domestic market are used to selling poorer quality products leading to massive brand loyalty. Better quality means better production standards countrywide and it’s going to cost.
All those indicators show that the economy in an ongoing process of change and evolution. GDP growth will remain steady around the 7% mark, impressive even if not the quite glory years of 2010 and before. Currently this resembles the progress of Japan in the 60s and Korea in the 80s.
A growth of 7.4% is expected for 2014
China is rapidly changing and there are many internal issues that will come to light in the coming years. But it is inevitable to have a couple of bumps along a long road. The positive indicators are still flashing everywhere. The infrastructure is booming all around from small villages to the big cities. China is consistently investing a lot in its infrastructure in order to facilitate moving people from the country and into the cities. The increase of incomes is establishing a consumer oriented economy for the future. Small cities are seeing 20 to 30% growth. Savings rates are still very high but the government is planning reforms about this matter. Efforts are being made to try to ensure growth will be sustainable in the future, the epitome of a truly successful economy and a lesson harshly learned in Europe.
No matter the slowdown, China will still remain one of world’s biggest lenders. The Chinese Yuan will gain stronger positions towards the USD and the Euro.
Find more interesting articles related to China on our LinkedIn page!
When arranging internships in China for students from the “West”, quite a few future interns ask us what kind of businesses actually do operate in Chengdu, meaning what the business landscape looks like, and how companies actually look like from the inside. It is impossible to answer these questions in a blog post, so I thought I will answer all these questions in a blog post.
Together with students from the De Montfort University Leicester I visited three different companies within only a few days. We went to a law firm, a logistics company and an architecture firm. Each company showed us around and explained their business to us. As I have seen them within a few days only, I was able to see somewhat “natural” (branch specifics and industry differences), cultural and individual differences between them a bit clearer than usual. I think that these three companies represent a nice sample of the diverse company culture you are able to experience here in Chengdu.
The first firm we visited is a large logistics firm headquartered in Chengdu. The Chinese “laoban” (老板), who is also the founder, proudly presented to us the company history that prettty much resembled his own biography “from the dish washer to millionaire story”. What started with one single truck in Chengdu is now a logistics company that operates with several hundreds of cars all over China. In my eyes, this company perfectly represents something that may be called the “Chinese Dream”: with a good education and valubale guanxi-connections in your city, you can actually do very, very well – without too many buraucratic obstacles or other hurdles on the way.
The second commpany was a Chinese law firm that problaby has the poshest office I have ever seen (in real life). They gave us a really good and interesting ppt-presentation (notice the slight difference when we visited the architecture firm). Unexpectedly, the “laoban” – one of the senior partners of the firm – popped in for a few minutes. And it was one of those unexpected, short, spontanious moments that are quite inquisitive for someone looking for cultural differences between Western and Chinese companies. The senior partner actually burst into the room and immediatley took over complete control of the meeting, hold his own presentation for good ten minutes. Then he left. In Germany, for instance, this situation would have been taken place slightly different, I guezz. However, we were actually very honoured that he found time for us and it was a real pleasure.
And then there was this really hipster architecture and interior design firm. “Hipster” may be one of the most overused, blurry and inappropriately used word since the beginning of the century (also note how many “sensational” things suddenly occur in Germany these days). However, just imagine design people in design clothes presenting design in a perfectly designed “prezi” (no ppt)- there you go. It was really fun and one of those moments where I thought “dammit, why haven’t I studied something cool?”. The company is managed by English architects and designers who cannot speak Chinese on a professional level – that’s why they are assisted in their sales and business development by a Chinese business women.
All in all, you see three quite different phenomena that all subsume as “companies in China”: a somewhat traditionally managed logistics company where its employees sing the company song together every morning (I am not joking); a law firm with steep hierarchies residing in an office that rather resembles a four star hotel than an office with a fantastic view onto the biggest building in the world and the immense Tianfu Software Park; and a cool foreign architecture company with shallow hierarchies where pop music is played throughout the loft office all day long.
In a nutshell, Chinese companies are like a box of chocolate for us arranging internships and you interning in one of them: some are traditional, some have an unorthodox style, some are fluffy, others are hard (but long lasting!), and basically all are enjoyable. However, you never know what you gonna get.
Want to get your piece from the Chinese box of chocolate? Apply now for an internship in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai!