Chengdu Blogs, Cultural

Two Internships, One City – Katharina’s review of her time in Chengdu

Hello you lovely people!
It’s Katharina! You might know me from my blogs about Chinese Traffic or Getting used to spicy food. I was an Office Intern here in Chengdu from November 2013 until January this year. Now I am doing an internship in a translation company, also in Chengdu and I am back for a guest blog.

This week will be my last in my internship and sadly the last in Chengdu – a perfect time to look back and review my experiences in this wonderful city.

First of all I would like to say that the time I have spent here has been amazing. I have met so many friendly people, explored fun places and learned many skills for my future career. InternChina has been like a family to me and I can truly say that I have made friends for life. I would recommend anyone to come to Chengdu and do an internship – in IC office or another company.

Why two internships? As there was only a short internship available in the IC office; Jenny, my office manager at the time, suggested I could do an internship in their office and then in another company. As Chinese was my major, many people recommended I become a translator. Although I never really considered it, I thought I should at least give it a try. This was a great chance for me to try out two different fields of work and for me to stay with my friends in Chengdu.

Work climate

IC: The atmosphere in IC office was always relaxed and comfortable. During work hours we would often discuss work related topics and everyday life topics such as politics, the latest events in China and the world. During busier times it would be a little bit quieter, but after work hours we often stayed longer and had dinner or just spent time together. On Fridays we had a meeting with everyone to talk about our work progress and the tasks and plans for the next week. Communication with the other office was usually done via Skype. Overall, it was a talkative atmosphere and we liked to joke around.

中国公司: In the translation company I am working with over 50 people, so obviously I don’t know all of them. But they are very friendly and like talking to me, so I know a few of them. I have noticed that some co-workers also like to walk around a lot and talk to other people about work related or private topics. Every day I am exposed to a concert of various ringtones ranging from classic to foreign music to simply annoying. Sometimes, people decide to have their conversation by screaming across the whole office instead of just walking over and talking to them directly. During lunch time and often in the morning someone will play loud music, maybe to relax the atmosphere or to wake people up. Despite all this most of the time my office life is pretty quiet.

InternChina - Every female in my company received a flower for women's day
InternChina – Every female in my company received a flower for women’s day

The Colleagues

IC: Starting in InternChina most of my co-workers were German too, which made it very easy for me. But when the team became more international and also with the coworkers from the other offices coming from all kinds of different backgrounds, I found that we were still working together very well. While working closely we became good friends, I could always talk about any problems and I think we were a great team.

InternChina - The IC girls
InternChina – The IC girls

中国公司: Although I can’t compare my Chinese co-workers with my IC family, they are all lovely and nice people that I will miss working with. It has only been a short time, but they gave me a warm welcome and everyone was really helpful. I enjoyed our interesting talks about differences between Chinese and European culture and could learn many things about life in China. My supervisor is a very open person and even invited me to her birthday party which was very fun.

A typical work day

IC Office:
8:30 I would leave the house, take the bus and the metro, meet interns from other companies on to work
9:00 The day started with some easier tasks (jobboards ^^°)
12:30 I would go for lunch with the other office interns, chatting some more after we came back
13:30 I would return to the office for the more fun tasks, later in the afternoon I would talk and sometimes fool around with the others while working
18:00 We would have dinner somewhere together or I would walk home with Kenny

Chinese Office:
8:10 I leave the house, wait at the bus stop: letting a few packed buses pass by until I finally decide to squeeze myself inside with a bunch of Chinese people
8:59 I arrive at the office, seeing some of my co-workers run past in their race to reach the attendance recorder on time!
12:00 I have lunch with my co-workers in the cafeteria or one of the other few restaurants, then I take a nap with my head on the desk like everyone else
13:10 I continue with my work, pausing in between to work on several ad hoc tasks
17:30 I get off work and on the bus, yet again sweating, squeezed between Chinese people. Later I meet with the IC office people for dinner and we goof around

Being with InternChina I have learned so many things for life. It helped me to be more confident in myself and what I am doing. I experienced great team work and an international environment with people from many different cultures.

In the translation company I spoke Chinese with my co-workers all day and most of my translations where from Chinese into English helping me to improve both languages. Although Chinese working style seems to be less-structured at times, this might be due to the fact that translation business is sometimes really urgent.

In general, I learned a lot of patience when dealing with Chinese public transport and being more open and proactive about working. I found out that it is indeed hard to separate work from one’s private life, no matter which country you are from. As long as you can communicate there are a ton of things to talk about and so many friends to make.

Apply now! Take a chance, improve your social and work abilities by doing an internship in China! You could do two different internships like me, or even in two separate cities to learn about the differences within China.