China Internship Experience in Hospitality

[h2a]Patrick McCombs[/h2a]

  • Duration: 12 weeks
  • UniversityAlbion College
  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Type of office: Shanghai Headquarter
  • Industry sectorHospitality
  • Key assignments: Position included various tasks in marketing, public relations, event planning, business operations, business development, and finance. Current projects being completed for the Boxing Cat Brewery, Iiiit! Cafe, Closed Door Private Restaurant/Lounge, Cantina Agave Taqueria and Tequila Bar, and 3 Dumplings Shanghai Cuisine Tours.

I’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin, and after some failed attempts using Rosetta Stone, I figured what better way to do it than to immerse myself in the language. So I set my sights on China, and after hearing many good things about Shanghai I decided that it was where I wanted to spend my 2010 summer. My college major, International Studies, requires me to both study abroad and take on an internship, so interning abroad in Shanghai through Next Step Connections became the perfect opportunity for me to accomplish a variety of things.

You have been here for two months now, how is living in Shanghai?

I couldn’t ask for a better situation here in Shanghai. The people, the city, the culture – everything is excellent. Before coming, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. You hear and read things, but you don’t really know what it’s like until you experience it for yourself. This city is a great place to me, there’s a lot of opportunity and many things to do. You never know what the day will bring. Most of us NSC interns spend a lot of our time together, and it’s been nothing but a good time ever since I stepped off the plane in May.

How have you adapted to Chinese culture in Shanghai?

I have adapted to the culture very well, I think. From my perspective, the language is the most difficult thing to get through. The biggest problem that I run into is not being able to communicate what I want I want to say, but my Mandarin lessons have been a great asset in that regard. Aside from that, the food is often quite interesting, but it’s often delicious as well. The people are all very nice and helpful to foreigners like me, so it’s pretty easy to get around without many issues. I purchased a bike within my first couple weeks of being here because it seemed like a great way to get around the city – it’s been a good way to feel more ‘in-tune’ with the culture, and getting lost on a bike is a nice way to learn the streets!

What do you do at your internship?  What types of tasks do you have?

My internship is entrepreneurial-based, and it has been exactly that. I’ve been getting involved in projects related to marketing, public relations, business development, business operations, finance, advertising, and management. My boss owns over six different business ventures in Shanghai, and more are in the works right now. They are all in the F&B (food and beverage) industry, and I’ve been jumping around doing various things at all of them. Most recently, I’ve been involved in event planning and business development for the Boxing Cat Brewery, online marketing, advertising initiatives and some operational stuff for other restaurant.

How do you like your internship experience?

I love what I do. I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to get so involved in so many levels with an internship that lasted just a few months. My boss has pushed me to really make things happen with the high expectations that she holds. A lot of responsibility has been put on my shoulders and I am often challenged to think outside-the-box. It has been great learning all about how new business ventures are successfully managed in China.

How is this internship going to benefit you in the future?

This internship applies directly with what I want to do in the future. Ideally, I hope to get into global marketing, and a lot of the marketing projects that I have been placed on involve a very international twist. But I want to become an entrepreneur and start some kind of business in the near future as well, not sure what exactly quite yet. This learning experience with Lee & Vargas Restaurant Concepts is giving me great tools that I can utilize to find success in really anything that I set out to do once I make my way to the ‘real world.’ I’ve been very lucky to be placed with such great people.

What are your plans after this internship in Shanghai?

After I leave here, I’m heading back to Michigan to finish up my studies at Albion College – just one more semester left. Then I plan on moving to Boston, Massachusetts to work in marketing and to hopefully get a Global MBA. From there, I don’t really know. I’m pretty much up for anything that becomes available!

Do you plan on returning to Shanghai to live in the future?

I would love to come back to Shanghai to stay for a much more extended period of time. I’m hoping that I can get connected with a company in the U.S. that will send me to China for work. Shanghai is definitely not off the radar as far as future living options. I cannot imagine NOT coming back to at least visit. I’ve made a lot of great connections with some wonderful people who I hope to see again in the very near future.

Interviewer: Michelle Kirina Chan

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