Social media in China is hot right now, and Oliver Smith is going to get a close up look of it during his internship in Beijing.
Smith, from Hampshire in the United Kingdom, will intern in China at Digital Jungle, a company that helps global brands raise awareness through Chinese social media.
“I know that I will using the Chinese social media sites like Weibo (Chinese Twitter) and Renren for western firms marketing in China,” and coming up with “a marketing strategy with the different types of ways you can use Chinese social media sites” to better raise awareness, says the 23-year-old, who spent four years studying in the United States for his business management degree.
Indeed, with just about everyone – from multinationals to foreign governments and journalists – scouring Chinese social media, particularly Weibo, to get a sense of what’s on the minds of ordinary Chinese, it’s no wonder social media is the place to go to understand today’s China.
“I am looking to get a working understanding of how social media marketing is done in the real world, and additionally how Chinese social media sites differ from their western equivalents,” says Oliver. “The most important aspect I hope to learn, though, is more about the day to day culture of the Chinese society, and I think that using social media networks is a great way to get a better understanding of the society.”
Oliver is no stranger to Asia, having spent two months at an internship at Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong after finishing university. It was that initial hit that gave him the bug to return.
“I had such a great time out there that I wanted to stay. But they said I would need to speak an Asian language to get an entry-level position in the company. So at that point I decided I would try and learn Mandarin,” says Oliver.
“Whilst I was in Hong Kong everyone said how different main land china was to Hong Kong so that made me intrigued to visit. So I decided that the best place to learn Mandarin would be to go to China and at the same time, see what make the mainland so different to Hong Kong.”
(Does Hong Kong ‘count’ as visiting China? Check out this CNN travel article for the answer.)
Oliver has signed up for Mandarin classes as part of his internship in China in hopes of picking up the basics to help with everyday life in Beijing.
“I hope to be successful enough to say on my CV that I can speak Mandarin, not with complete fluency but enough to able to hold a conversation. Additionally, I hope I would be able to start learning the characters so I can read a bit as well.”
Everyone’s got his or her pre-conceived notion of what China is like before visiting, and Oliver is certainly no exception.
“Well what I was told by people in Hong Kong was that people from the mainland are ruder and less hygienic that people in Hong Kong. But I still think that they will still be friendlier than people from England tend to be.”
He chose Get in2 China to help find an internship in the Middle Kingdom because “it had the best price for the length of time I wanted to do an internship. It also looked like it provided better internships than most of its competitors.”
What does he anticipate life will be like in China?
“I think that I will be doing long hours either working or studying. But at the same time I think the social side will be great, and I will meet a lot of interesting people.”