The opportunities that have risen from diving head first into this delicate yet durable web have kept me here in China. In the UK, going to a networking event would have been lower on my list of things to do than watching a movie or going for cinema. It’s not because I didn’t want to, it’s just that I didn’t know how.
Here in China, I was thrusting business cards into the palms of everyone I met, and received a boxful in the process. I met partners of firms, chief executives of companies, and entrepreneurs busily making a name for themselves. I was invited to lunches, KTV, and even children ‘s birthday parties. What little services I had to offer were called upon, and I have few favors of my own that will be asked in the near future. One key piece of advice – get some business cards printed, leave your nerves on the plane and hand those bad boys out to every single person you meet.
Coming to China to work is, of course, not just about the job. To truly understand life here cultural immersion is key and through this, without even noticing, everything you learn from just getting by day-to-day begins to show on the job. Although we may believe that we are internationally aware from living in multicultural cities and communities, for those who want to get ahead in today’s global village, there is still no substitute for international experience and direct exposure to different cultures both professionally and socially.
Having international work experience is an invaluable addition to your CV, something that could help give yours the edge over the stack of other applications on the desk of the person who is between you and your dream job. Being able to say that you have survived and learned from an internship in China is something that will raise even the most cynical eyebrow.
I must tell you that living in China is no stroll along the Great Wall. Each day will present you with a new challenge that you must overcome. Be it the language barrier, the incredible crush on public transport, or the questionable something-on-a-stick you probably should not have eaten, ‘bad China days’ will befall you. But those are wholly vanquished with days when your cab driver finally understands where you need to go without you resorting to acting out your destination. Days when you discover the most delectable dishes that cost a fraction of a Happy Meal. Days when the people you’ll know forever or just for two weeks imprint significantly on your life.