Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

A Love Affair with Shanghai

Q&A with Cindy: Interned in China
Share this
Print this
Cindy
Interned in China
University of Toronto
Her thoughts on Motivation
At the time, I wanted to learn Mandarin, as I knew that it would be an important language to have under my belt, especially since I knew I wanted to do business someday.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
In Western countries, communication is a lot more direct and casual, whereas in China, it is more indirect and polite.
Her thoughts on The International Workplace
At the time, I wanted to learn Mandarin, as I knew that it would be an important language to have under my belt, especially since I knew I wanted to do business someday.

Where did you intern abroad? What was your position?

I made one of the best decisions in my life when I left my stable but unsatisfying job in Canada for an exciting and adventurous internship in Shanghai, China. For once, I felt like I was able to work at a job wherever my heart desired. It was definitely a leap of faith, as I had never lived on my own before that! As an undergrad, I completed a Bachelor of Business Administation at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. 

What made you want to intern abroad?

At the time, I wanted to learn Mandarin, as I knew that it would be an important language to have under my belt, especially since I knew I wanted to do business someday. I chose Shanghai specifically (over Beijing), not only because I’d already been to Beijing in the past, but because I was always captivated and fascinated with the roaring Shanghai era – the opulence and glamour-meet-rebel feel of it all. I had always been searching for a place to live where Europe meets Asia – the perfect mix in my opinion – and I found that in Shanghai. Affectionately coined ‘Paris of the East’ in its colourful past, Shanghai has definitely lived up to its name. To this day, the architecture of the city has been very well preserved, and sometimes I still daydream about staying there for an extended period of time… living in luxurious, modern hotels such as the Park Hyatt Shanghai, or Mansion Shanghai Hotel which offers its patrons the authentic experience of ‘Old Shanghai.’ It would be hard for me to leave the hotel room – so perhaps if I’m writing a book someday and need the concentration, you will know where to find me. If I can afford it, I’m all for it!

Describe the application process. What made you successful?

My top choice was a magazine company as I was an avid blogger at the time and enjoyed expressing my thoughts through writing. I began searching for internships in China to justify the months away from home, so I could tell my parents, “I’m going to go to work and learn something” instead of “I’m going to be reckless, travel and spend money like there's no tomorrow.” I stumbled upon CRCC Asia, the leading provider of internships in China, on the internet. What set it aside from other internships was that it not only had a great website, with student testimonials, but it was also partnered with universities – I got a sense that it was a legitimate company, and signed up right away. They took care of me from the beginning - from job placement to visa processing, arranging accommodations, Mandarin lessons and internship activities – to helping me get through a conversation with a taxi driver who was trying to rip me off. I felt like I was supported every step of the way and that everything was greatly organized. I truly feel that what you get out of your internship experience is what you put in.

I worked as an intern at a bilingual magazine for two months. I was the PR Executive/Events Representative and was responsible for 2 major events – the creative direction of their booth at the annual China (Shanghai) International Boat show and the co-organizing of their major annual VIP readership event that had a ‘Design & Redesign’ element to it. The bulk of my work revolved around the two events. On any typical day, I was brainstorming ideas, putting together design elements such as invitations, marketing material and other display items, organizing the logistics of the event, purchasing items and dealing with vendors. I had the opportunity to sit in on client meetings for potential partnerships, contribute to the magazine by sourcing images and writing a description for each product and learn about the magazine industry as a whole. It was fascinating to me seeing firsthand how hard people worked toward the same goal – to produce a top-notch magazine, filled with culture, class and relatedness - a magazine not specifically targeted to luxury readers, but for any individual who appreciates quality content drawing inspiration. It’s hard to believe that I was only there for two months but got so much done!

How did you deal with the cultural divide during your internship?

I’m not sure what it is – but the rapid pace and the speed of how much work gets done in a short timeframe in China is amazing. People seem to be able to take ownership of their work and not have a supervisor breathe down their neck every half hour wondering what they’ve been working on – at least that’s the sense I got from working at the magazine. It felt like a start-up environment, there was about 10-12 of us in total, and we all had our Apple iMacs, and just worked, collaborated and got things done. I did notice some differences, especially communication-wise. In western countries, communications are a lot more direct and casual, whereas in China, it was more indirect, polite and they wouldn’t give it to you straight – that kind of bothered me as I wasn’t used to it, but I was all for learning about cultural differences. It gave me the opportunity to adapt to a new culture, figure out how best to approach a person or situation and build great working relationships.

How did you balance work and play?

I was pretty good at balancing work and play. I worked Monday to Friday, always grabbed breakfast on the go, mostly KFC’s breakfast congees conveniently located in the MRT or the inexpensive steamed buns near my workplace, worked a full shift and had the rest of the evenings to go to Mandarin classes, get groceries, watch Chinese dramas to attempt to learn Mandarin, try out great restaurants, shop, attend internship outings such as KTV night and events happening around the city. I spent the weekends exploring the city, whether it was going to the Pearl Tower, catching an acrobatics show or visiting a nearby water town. There was always something fun to do. Throughout the time away from home, I was truly living my own version of the rockstar life and splurged and pampered myself like never before! I met and still keep in touch with some great, interesting people – from the internship program, fashion shows I attended and a couple of my colleagues – all of whom I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t done the internship program with CRCC Asia. Other than connecting with people, food played a major role of making my experience in Shanghai a memorable one!

What were some of the most interesting dishes you tried in China?

A friend had introduced me to a restaurant named “Lost Heaven” which serves Yunnan cuisine – their dishes are influenced by the minority groups from Burma, Thailand and Tibet, and are aromatic, flavourful and spicy. The interior of the restaurant makes you feel like you are transported to an exotic, foreign locale, with folklore inspired designs throughout with food presented in an artful manner. Although not necessarily the most interesting of food to me, Ding Tai Fung is worth mentioning as it serves an excellent Shanghainese dish, called xiaolongbao, which are mini steamed dumplings filled with pork and soup. The chain of Ding Tai Fung is quite well known and has been favoured by celebrities as seen on the posters aligned on the walls of their restaurants. My third recommendation would be to pop into Shanghai’s many French-inspired Chinese bakeries, such as Bon Matin Paris, Paris Baguette, etc. So fun, classy and such a treat after a long day’s work!

What were some of your favourite social events?

I enjoyed catching a few fashion shows during Shanghai Fashion Week (I had never been to a fashion show before this). KTV was fun – especially my going away party with my colleagues at work – I had a nice buzz and a colleague even dedicated a song to me! I also enjoyed trying out different cuisine, going to ladies’ night to have a drink, and exploring the city in general. There was never be a dull moment!

Describe an experience from your time abroad that made a particularly strong impression on you.

There were a lot of good moments, but I think my favourite has to be the moment when my friend covered my eyes, took me up the elevators to the Park Hyatt Hotel and revealed the night view of the futuristic Shanghai skyline. It was simply breathtaking. I have such a soft spot for Shanghai’s colourful history, fashion and culture. Another great memory was when my colleagues and I had our teambuilding weekend at the villas of Naked Retreats among the mountains of Moganshan. I felt like I was living in luxury – the villa had sky-high ceilings, a hot tub, and we even had a personal driver to get us around. I got to know my teammates better during the trip. The second morning I was there, I got up early to catch a sunrise with a colleague. Although we didn’t catch it as it was gloomy that day, I still enjoyed our hike. I felt connected to people, to nature and to a sense of calmness that I rarely felt while in Shanghai. These are the beautiful moments that made my trip truly memorable. I would go back to Shanghai in a heartbeat.

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

A couple of things – I wish I had put more effort into learning and speaking Mandarin! Also, I wish that I had gone beyond my comfort zone more – go out to networking events (I didn’t go to a single one!) and meet more people and be more open to new experiences. I find that in life, you regret the things that you didn’t do more than the ones you actually did do. I held myself back on some things. You only live once – so as long as it’s safe and you’re not hurting anybody, go for it!

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

My future plans for travelling include Paris. I would love to stay there for at least a couple of months and perhaps study fashion design or decor-related course. If I don't end up studying, then I'll be blogging my adventures as I go along. I hope to be able to collaborate with big fashion and design brands, etc. Social media is not going out of style anytime soon. My blog partner and I are ready for big things to happen! Hong Kong is also a must for me as I have a friend's wedding there coming up, and Japan is on my list before I turn 30. I would also be interested in visiting South America. I currently work in apparel manufacturing providing administrative and executive support and I am also a wedding and events planner who has plans to expand outside of Toronto within the next five years. I love how every single day is an opportunity to go after your dreams - decide, commit, succeed - and don't settle for anything less!

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher, MyWorldAbroad

Cindy’s story offers an excellent example of how interning abroad can contribute to your personal growth and develop your career aspirations. Cindy has an interest in building a business career, and pursuing that goal on the international playing field. We’d recommend that Cindy build her international experience by pursuing a master’s degree (perhaps an international MBA) at a foreign institution.

In Cindy’s story, she highlights a desire to go further beyond her comfort zone next time she’s in a foreign country. We support this approach wholeheartedly! If France is her next destination, we’d recommend that she start working on her French fluency as early as possible so that she can fully engage with the local culture. This way, perhaps she could also extend her passion for blogging into her host country context, developing a local audience as well as maintaining her home country audience. 

Because Cindy’s interest is business, and particularly fashion, it makes sense to further build her career by heading to one of the major fashion centers in Europe; but we would also recommend developing international skills of another sort by taking a short volunteer or backpacking trip to a completely non-European, non-Westernized area of the world. By heading off the beaten path, young professionals develop personally- and professionally-valuable skills that they never would have expected. Don't underestimate the career value of doing something completely different and totally challenging! We wish Cindy all the best as she pursues her career goals!

  • The International Elevator Pitch is a key article for young people who are interested in business. The elevator pitch is crucial for all industries, but particularly for business and fast-moving industries like fashion.
  • The Ideal International Profile lists the qualities necessary to succeed in the international workforce. Use it as a checklist as you plan your next steps abroad.
  • Career-boosting Strategies While Studying Abroad offers ideas on how to maximize the career value of your study abroad experience. These tips can be applied when pursuing master’s degrees overseas.

Cindy's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Want to Have the Same Experience?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The 4-Year Global Mindset Map!
Don't miss your blueprint for success! Set goals & take action to build the Global You.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
11645
- # of # Filtered -
  • 99
99
16312
Virtual Internship for a Cross-cultural Future
1
16320
Independent, International, Virtual! A UN Internship Online
2
16316
Exploring the Sights, Sounds & Tastes of Mexico City
3
16157
Zoom Zoom! A Virtual Internship with Central America
4
9756
Springtime In Spain
5
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
6
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
7
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
8
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
9
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
10
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
11
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
12
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
13
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
14
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
15
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
16
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
17
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
18
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
19
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
20
9754
Building Memories In India
21
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
22
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
23
9748
Adventure In The Alps
24
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
25
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
26
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
27
9762
American Freshman In London
28
9771
Learning To Love London
29
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
30
9773
Independent In India
31
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
32
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
33
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
34
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
35
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
36
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
37
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
38
9753
A Season in Sweden
39
9765
Simpatico in Florence
40
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
41
9737
Passionate About Panama
42
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
43
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
44
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
45
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
46
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
47
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
48
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
49
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
50
16174
An Empowering Virtual Internship in Nicaragua
51
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
52
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
53
16161
A Bright & Friendly Cross-cultural Workspace
54
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
55
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
56
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
57
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
58
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
59
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
60
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
61
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
62
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
63
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
64
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
65
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
66
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
67
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
68
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
69
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
70
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
71
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
72
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
73
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
74
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
75
9752
Giving In Guatemala
76
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
77
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
78
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
79
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
80
9787
A Spring Semester in London
81
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
82
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
83
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
84
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
85
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
86
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
87
10851
Tips From Tasmania
88
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
89
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
90
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
91
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
92
10157
Changing Course In China
93
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
94
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
95
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
96
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
97
10192
Out And About In Paris
98
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
99
11645
All Job Boards
463
All NGOs
1428
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
53
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
27
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
309
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
492
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
108
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
29
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
26
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
99
Study Abroad Resources
186
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
99
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
72
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
85
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
88
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73