Guo Nana, 21, is a senior at Shandong University of Technology. In August of 2016, she lived for one month in Cambodia to intern at a non-government organization called E-tuk Education. The student told the Global Times that she hoped this experience could expand her world vision while also add a highlight to her resume.
Like Guo, 17-year-old Su Xin, who studies at Chongqing Foreign Language School, also flew overseas to attend an internship at a professional Spanish football club, Villarreal, in February of 2017.
“I’m a soccer fan and I love doing everything related to soccer,” Su said. “I also want to study sport management in my future, so this internship was perfect for me. That’s why I tried my best to catch the chance.”
Another interviewee, 22-year-old Lin Xuanyi from Guangdong Province, spent two weeks in India interning at Bubber Handicrafts, a manufacturer specializing in producing and exporting traditional Indian handicrafts. Lin said his purpose was simply to experience the working environment in other countries.
Each interviewee pointed out that they are not the only student in their school that has interned abroad. “There are more and more students who have been to or want to intern abroad. And our university is encouraging us to gain global internship opportunities,” Guo told the Global Times.
To gain an overseas internship position, the interviewees said they had to prepare documents and attend online interviews. Guo only applied to one company; she first sent a self-introduction and resume to the company.
“I also had an English interview via WhatsApp with the company’s recruiting staff. The interviewer asked me some questions about my career plans and my understanding about their job,” she said, adding that several days after the interview she received the company’s offer via e-mail.
Despite the new experiences they gained abroad, young students also tend to encounter a number of new, unexpected challenges. Su, for example, found that learning a new language was quite difficult for her.
“I couldn’t speak Spanish, so I only used English. But Spanish people speak English with a strong accent, so it was difficult for me to understand what they were trying to say,” Su said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Guo, who found that Cambodians are not very good at English, especially the elderly and children. She therefore had to rely primarily on translators or simple body language.
Apart from language barriers, Guo added that she couldn’t get used to Cambodia’s hot weather and often suffered from sunstroke. “But day by day I started to settle in,” she added.
As for Lin, he said the cultural differences between India and China were the biggest challenge for him. “I didn’t do much research about Indian culture before going there, and this caused big trouble for me. Due to a basic lack of knowledge of India’s social customs, I made some embarrassing cultural mistakes,” he laughed.
He added that India has a “party culture,” which wasn’t suitable for a shy, introspective personality such as his, which also made getting to know his Indian colleagues somewhat awkward.
Tong Ting Hung, 26, is the managing director of MCD Education Consulting Limited, which helps Chinese students apply for internship positions abroad. He said many Chinese students believe that foreign companies tend to have “strict requirements” for Chinese applicants, but the truth is that new global attitudes have in fact made it easier for them.
“Through my communication with foreign companies, I’ve learned that most foreign corporations expect a passionate intern who is willing to learn and communicate,” Tong told the Global Times. “The applicants don’t necessarily need outstanding academic performances, but they must have good English communication skills, as they are expected to work in an English environment.”
Tong added that before setting off, students should undertake some basic yet essential preparations, such as learning about the local weather situation of whatever country and state they will be living in, being prepared to try new food and be willing to adapt to local customs in order to fit in.
“I would also ask students to print out their internship offer, as they might need this information when passing through customs. Buying personal insurance is also important in case something unexpected happens abroad.”