China Internship Experience in Fashion Industry

[h2a]Lillian Lim[/h2a]

  • Internship Duration: 48 weeks
  • UniversityBlanche Macdonald Centre
  • Internship ProgramChina Internship
  • Industry sector: Apparel & Fashion
  • Internship / Job tittle: Design Consultant
  • Key assignments: Travelled with the head couture designer to various markets and showrooms to assist her in the choice of fabric content (mainly silks and silk blends), colour, garment design in custom and mass produced garment construction. Travelled with the company director to factories and wholesale outlets to assist in problem solving and choice of fabrics for retail clients. Travelled to Hong Kong to compare style variations with those of Mainland China. Designed garments from paper patterns created from muslin draping techniques. Attended fashion shows to view the trends created by local designers. Researched western influences incorporated into the fashions found popular by Chinese women. Assisted in updating the company website


My name is Lillian Lim. I applied for a one-year fashion design internship with two different designers through Next Step Connections. At first I was leery of applying to a strange company that I wasn’t familiar with and that I found by Googling on the internet but after reading very positive reviews by the interns and other independent reviews, I decided to give them a shot. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.  After practicing dentistry in Vancouver, Canada, for twenty-seven years I decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer and went back to school in September, 2010, at the age of 58.

I arrived with my oldest daughter (who speaks fluent mandarin) in Shanghai on November 3, 2012.  A driver from Next Step Connections was waiting for us at the airport, holding up a sign with my name. He drove us (with our three huge suitcases and two large back packs) to my apartment where I was met by Sabrina Jia, one of the coordinators of Next Step Connections. She gave me a folder filled with information on getting around and numbers to call in case of emergency. She also gave me a telephone SIM card, a telescopic umbrella, and a long distance calling card. She spent over an hour explaining things to me even though it was late in the evening.

Next Step Connections had given me a couple of choices of designers and I chose to go with a high end couture evening wear company. The managing director lived in Queens, New York, for twenty-five years (since the age of 8) so I had no problem communicating with him in English. His wife is the C.E.O. of the company and the head couture designer. They have both welcomed me, not only into their company, but also into their family. I have now been with them for four months and have learned so much – draping, transferring the draped muslin onto a paper pattern, making a try-on muslin from the paper pattern, altering the paper pattern and constructing the final garment. They have also taken me on the bullet train three times to visit garment factories and to source fabrics at the fabric mills. Two of the employees at the company speak a bit of English so I’ve been learning a lot of Mandarin from them as they will speak to me in English and I will try to answer them in Mandarin. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’m learning more each day.

Watching the fireworks from my 23rd floor apartment window on Chinese New Year’s Eve and on the fourth night of the Lunar New Year was an amazing experience. The night sky lit up with brilliant lights and color over the entire horizon!  Next Step Connections would arrange at least one outing every month for all the interns to get together whether it was karaoke, watching movies, eating at different ethnic restaurants (that was my favorite activity) or going on day trips to nearby cities for sightseeing. I took photos of every event I’ve attended and sent them to Next Step Connections. It’s so much fun to meet the other interns and to learn about the different fields of work they are involved in. Two of the employees at Next Step Connections told me where to go for the best discount shopping in Shanghai.

Whenever I’ve had any problems or requests such as when I needed to renew my China visa, Next Step Connections has helped me right away. I’ve gotten to know many of the employees there and they have become very good friends. I am so happy that I took the risk and applied to this organization because they truly are a caring company and their main goal is to ensure that all their interns have a memorable work experience in Shanghai. In fact, many of the interns have been offered jobs at the end of their internships and they have decided to stay and work here.

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