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Jared, a former U.S. Marine Now Interning in China

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Jared, a former U.S. Marine, shares insight into his background and why he's moving to China to do his internship.

"I am from a small town in Eastern Washington in the USA. Although other places in the country do the same, we are unique because we grow wheat, which has been marketed to the entire world. Its primary use is for noodles, I believe.

I am in my mid-thirties, and I would say I’ve had many interesting experiences. One that’s worth sharing is when I went skydiving, a dozen years ago. I had to sign a bunch of forms and releases that said the company was not responsible, no matter what happened. I went tandem with an instructor, and we jumped from 15,000 ft. We lost 10,000 feet of altitude in 70 seconds (the worst part was the initial drop), then another 5-10 minutes for the remaining 5,000 feet. The view, the physiological/psychological feelings, the knowledge that life had become so precarious, it was all just very intense.

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For my undergraduate degree, I studied two years of Biology and Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. While I did not complete this portion of my studies, it was insightful and interesting, and I later obtained a Bachelors in French (Language and Culture). In order to supplement my linguistic studies, I did a study abroad at Rennes 2, Universite de Haute Bretagne, in the Fall of 2000. This included guided tours, living with a host family, and immersion in a variety of topics covering French grammar and literature. I think the reason I gravitated toward this was that I have always been interested in foreign languages and it was the most logical progression of my self-given lessons.

I will be interning at a Beijing Global E-commerce Company working in the field of Finance, or more specifically, wealth management. While I don’t have any real-world application of the concepts and topics of this field, I have been pursuing courses toward my Masters of Business Administration, with a projected graduation date of May 2015. So far, I have taken three courses in Finance, and one each in Accounting, Economics, and Statistics, with A’s received in all. My GPA, after completing more than half of the program, is 3.92 on a 4.0 scale. I would imagine that I am capable of handling the job requirements, based on my background, but there will be a significant learning curve associated with the on-the-job training. I hope to be vital asset to a company working in the Finance industry and based in the United States. Along with this, I would more preferably be employed by one with international activities, so that I may continue to live at home, but also have the opportunity for travel and interacting with businesses in foreign countries. In order to achieve these goals, I will need to demonstrate not only aptitude, but also proficiency in the chosen field. There is no better way to do this than by joining an organization that already embodies these characteristics. While the only compensation is a small amount for travel and food, I think it will be a rewarding experience in so many other countless ways.

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Why China? In my business courses, we are constantly reminded of the importance and potential of the BRIC countries (being Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The current, and even future, development of these economies is of chief interest to those countries that are already industrialized (like my home nation of the United States and those of Western Europe), as well as those countries that are still considered undeveloped and third-world. As such, China’s position as the fastest-growing economy in the world marketplace makes it a case study of crucial information and learning. Another big consideration in my decision was the fact that the Chinese have had a continuing existence for between 4,000 and 6,000 years, and they have definitely pioneered unique perspectives on everything from medicine and technology to linguistics and culture.

One impression that I gleaned from outside reading prior to my arrival was that China was a little rough and uncivilized. Also, because it is a Communist country, I assumed the police and military presence would be suffocating. However, upon arrival and having spent a few days walking the streets, I see that, in reality, it is much different than that. In fact, China seems to function in a very similar fashion to the United States – life largely unfettered, with the exception of certain websites or information resources – and other democratic Asian nations I have visited (i.e., Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore).

I had a couple options for programs to choose from in order to gain a Chinese internship. Gi2C Group seemed to offer the best product for the best price, and as a business major, with an eye for economical transactions, I think they were the most likely (reasonable) choice.

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I don’t feel like I did enough preparation prior to my move but I made an attempt. I took 7 books out of the library, including language software and photobooks and kept them by my side for the past month. In the end, I don’t believe I studied them enough. I know they had good information and would have significantly given me a headstart on learning the culture, customs, and language, but in the end, I failed to take away the gist (meat) of these books. I did, however, read 1 book and several excerpts within a book, as well as various webpages, and I think these made me more prepared than doing nothing.

I will only have 8 courses in Mandarin language (16 hours), and while the introductory course was quite thorough and full, I am a little skeptical about how much I will learn in the short term that a course will be available to me. This is considering that I am a linguistic hobbyist (learn languages easily), AND that I will be able to immediately go on the street and practice what I have learned. While I desire to be fluent eventually, I know the language courses will only take me so far; I will feel that I have gotten my money’s worth if I am able to conduct street-wise, daily interactions with little trouble at the end of my stay.

When I told my family I was going to China, my daughter was shocked, particularly because she’s of the age where she has never traveled outside the United States, and she was too young to remember when I, myself, was outside the country. My mom, dad, brother, and cousin took into account that I have been to other countries before, living abroad with success. However, I must admit that they all “psyched” me out by making me feel like it would be a more alien existence than I was used to. I was in Okinawa for 6 months, Japan for a month, and Iraq for 4 months, and while the cultures are distinct from China, I feel many similarities to when I was in Japan.

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I did not live the most fantastic life at home. It was easy, sure, but it was not exactly fun or exciting. I am just glad to be out of that environment. No, instead, I am ready and willing to embrace Chinese culture and see what it has to offer. I have had a lot of life experiences, including foreign travel, so I am not a stranger to this. On study abroad (2000), I was overseas for 4 months. On deployment (with the U.S. Marines), I was gone for 6-8 months at a time. So, to be honest, I feel that I am well prepared and that a trip to China for 3 months is just de rigueur and a logical progression of what I’ve done so far."

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