China Internship Experience in Business & Entrepreneurship

[h2a]Thomas (Trey) Griffith & David Moreno[/h2a]



Each Month, Next Step Connections will feature internship program participants with the aim of getting insights on their experiences in China. In February, NSC met Thomas and David. Both are interning for an information technology company in Shanghai. They are also living together in NSC’s intern housing.

Ni Hao Thomas! After 2 months internship and daily life in Shanghai, do you still feel good and closer to the culture of that “fantastic city”?

Yes of course! I still think that Shanghai is a wonderful city. I’m getting closer to the culture every day. I just have to be patient to deal with the huge cultural difference with the States but don’t worry, I’m feeling good here. I particularly enjoy the nightlife and food!

Major in finance? You are now practicing your skills in the company “ CeBlue Information Technology ”? Can you tell us what projects are you currently working on, as well as your mission here? Does it correspond to your expectations?

Yes, it’s pretty close to what I expected, which is a good thing. We’ve been doing a lot of market and industry research, both for internal and external purposes, which really helped me to understand the line of work that we are in. Right now we’re actually working on a business plan, which is something I’m really excited about. I’m getting to touch a lot of different areas of this business, and I’m learning a lot on my own and with my Chinese colleagues.

Referring to your CV? You seem to be a great “problem solver”? Have you ever faced some difficult problems in your host company besides language barrier??If yes, did you succeed in solving them??

The main problem I’ve faced from the beginning is the language, as you mentioned. Communication is hard. I don’t think you can just brush it aside because if you don’t master the language, you can’t be as involved in the work and the company. Any other difficulties I’ve had with the work have really been secondary to language and communication. So, to solve it, I would say that I work as hard as I can during my Chinese lessons and I try to further develop my Chinese by talking with my Chinese colleagues, and with the population.. you really don’t have a choice but to involve  yourself in the culture deeply and quickly. Luckily my colleagues have been very willing to help me, and I can see a huge improvement in communication even over the short time that I’ve been here.

You’ve already worked in various positions in other companies all situated in the United States. We can guess that the American working system might be different from the Chinese system. Are the way of work, the organization, the relation between the staff members.. very different? (If yes, how did you get used to it?)

The working system is very different. The Chinese work ethic is extremely strong. All of my colleagues work very hard, all of the time, which is a good motivator for me, although different from in the States. Relating to my colleagues on a personal level, however, is not that much different. My colleagues are very open-minded, friendly and generous…while it was a bit difficult at first to become friendly with all of them, by now we definitely have a good relationship.

Do you plan to come back again in China in the future to make your professional career here?

Yes, why not? Right now I’m just getting a taste of the country and the way-of-life of the Chinese; four months is not enough! I’m considering coming back to Shanghai, or another city in China like Beijing or Hong Kong for a few years, but I don’t plan on spending my whole life in China. But who knows? A few years ago I didn’t think I’d be in China at all!

Hi David! After 2 months trainee in Shanghai, how do you feel here?

I’m feeling very good. The culture is so different, I really enjoy it! For me, everything is new and I basically discover a lot of beautiful things everyday. You know, people, when you get to know them, are really generous and welcoming, the food and the Chinese way to eat at the restaurant make it such a pleasant experience and the nightlife in Shanghai is crazy! You really feel at ease in this city!

What your job in the company consist in?

As well as Trey, I’m currently working as a business analyst. Apart from the general business plan and all the financial aspect, it is a great opportunity for me to acquire new skills, which will be really helpful for my career, since my studies rely more on mathematics and statistics.

What made you feel like coming in China for making a internship?

Actually, I’ve just graduated and after my studies, I didn’t feel like entering directly in the working world. I felt something was missing in my life, something new, a different experience. I’ve been backpacking in the last few years therefore increasing my desire to discover the world we live in. So to get to work in the oldest civilization on earth, for me, is a great privilege while at the same time, learning about Chinese mentality at work.

Did you make a quick contact with your colleagues?

I realize that Chinese people need more time to create a good and trustworthy relationship; the first contact is not as fast as in America. In fact, it is a normal phenomenon due to their thousand years of history where they build their relationships based on many social interactions. But trust me, once you get into their circle, Chinese people are quite amazing and really distinguish their selves with their unique culture.

How is your relation with your boss?

Very good! He speaks English, which is a great benefit for us. He helps us a lot concerning our integration in the company and is very open-minded. For instance, we had dinner quite a few times with either clients or our colleagues. He’s also planning on going to Karaoke, which is very famous in Shanghai. Hopefully we can go and sing together with all our colleagues… it will be great for sure!

Feedback from their employer: Could you give us your general impression and feeling about the work of your interns and their integration into the company?

It would be a pleasure! I think that Trey and David are doing really good work. For the moment, they’re doing an excellent job and taking advantage of all the chances to be well-integrated with the other Chinese staff-members. But that’s not my only aim. Of course they have to add value to the company through to their skills and the work they produce. But also, and sometimes even more importantly, they have to make the effort to integrate the “change” (via the language for instance), due to the strong difference between their native countries and China. And I pay a lot of attention to their integration.
And not only for them. I mean, if they have the duty to learn the Chinese language, I consider that their Chinese colleagues also have to make an effort in that way by learning English. It is a cultural and language exchange for the improvement of the entire company. It will be beneficial for all of us. For instance, our receptionist doesn’t speak a word of English. Thanks to this difficulty, David and Trey don’t have a choice but to try and speak the language. It serves as a challenge for them. And in return, she is glad to learn English too.
I think that this attitude within the framework of their career will be very helpful when they reach the outside world. They will get international opportunities with the foreigners here as well as the local contacts they make, and advantages by talking with the native people.
At least, it is what I try to teach them…and they seem to be learning quickly!

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