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Intern Advice: 7 Tips For A Successful Internship In China

At our most recent Intern Orientation on June 7, our Business Development Manager, Ben Cao, applauded new interns on having the courage and vision to choose China as their internship destination.  As the world's most populous nation and second largest economy - an economy which is still growing at rates which most developed nations could only dream of achieving - China presents a significant career building opportunity for those willing to put the time and effort into understanding the culture and learning the language.

When looking to really succeed in an internship with a Chinese company, there are many more considerations than just simply showing up and doing good work.  And even though it may not always seem like it, your Chinese supervisor is paying attention to the details and constantly judging your performance.

With this in mind, in addition to several years of working experience with HSBC Bank in China, Ben developed the following list of "7 Tips For A Successful Internship In China."

1.) Be Punctual

Yes, this is standard advice no matter where you decide to intern. This is an internship, your "foot in the door," your opportunity to make an impression and prove yourself valuable - so don't just be puntual, be early.  Try to arrive 15 minutes early and stay 15 minutes late.  Most people in management positions  know hard-work when they see it, even if they do not always acknowledge it.

2.) Dress Smart

Smart, sharp, tidy, professional, office appropriate, whatever you want to call it, make sure you do it. Even if the office supports a dress down policy, make sure your dress still reflects the professional nature of your position.  Shorts and sandals are absolutely forbidden.

3.) Be Active

In other words, take initiative. Don't be afraid to ask questions; learn as much as you possibly can about the company you are working for. If you have already completed the task you've been assigned to, go ask your colleagues or supervisors what more you can help them with. Prove yourself valuable to the company.

4.) Network

This is the foundation for getting ahead in Chinese society. Developing the right professional and personal relationships may mean everything to your career, it is a huge difference maker. China's history and homogenous society stresses the values of inclusiveness and trust. Take advantage of your time here and make it a priority to form lasting professional relationships.

5.) Respect

Everyone deserves respect and in Chinese culture the concept of "face" is wildly important. Chinese people never openly criticize, ignore, or make fun of a person in front of others. Any criticism, if voiced at all, will be voiced in private, behind closed doors. Chinese people and Western people tend to have a slightly different sense of humor. Your colleagues may not understand or appreciate any sort of sarcasm or dry humor. Be polite, remain friendly, and always show respect and humility, specifically when dealing with elders or those higher up in the organization.

6.) Be A Team Player

Always exhibit a willingness to work with others. Though they may not always exhibit an open warmth or friendliness, many Chinese people truly enjoy working with and learning from foreigners. Think of it as your responsibility to break the ice and initiate communication, take it upon yourself and don't wait to be approached. Also, keep in mind cultural differences. In China, it is far less taboo to directly ask someone about their age, weight, income, religion, or appearance.

7.) Say 'Thank You'

This is all about professionalism and distinguishing yourself from the crowd. When your internship has concluded, be sure to write a short, appreciative letter to your colleagues and supervisors. Keep in contact. If you don't understand the importance of keeping in contact, refer to tip number four. Hand written notes make a far more significant impact on people than e-mails or text messages - just something to think about.

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We hope that making the decision to complete an internship in China is a life altering and career shaping opportunity for each intern that we host. Get in2 China has been fortunate enough to host an overwhelming amount of motivated and capable young professionals, people looking to maximize their potential and make the most out of their time in China.

Following the advice of Ben and his "7 Tips For A Successful Internship In China," has put all of our interns on the right path.

We will help open the door, but it is up to you to walk through it.
Article By: Scott Singerman

Adopted From: "Notes For A Successful Internship Placement" - Ben Cao
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