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From Japan to China, Erika interns at a start-up


I’m from Tokyo, Japan. I was born and grew up in Niigata prefecture, which is considered the countryside in Japan. My parents raised me to develop my curiosity and to not be afraid of a challenge. They never ever said “no” to what I tried to do (unless it was illegal, might hurt the others or was immoral).  Looking back on my life, I have experiences of failures, but I don’t have any regrets that I didn’t do something because my parents said no. 

I have just turned 22. My life is somehow strongly connected with social innovation and overseas. After I entered university 4 years ago, I was working for the biggest worldwide student organization called AIESEC for 3 years. I supported Japanese university students who are willing to do their internship overseas by consulting and developing our products. I learned how much making an impact on each person means a lot to the society at AIESEC. Since then, I started thinking what kind of impact I want to have on society. After I graduated from AIESEC, I did my internship at a non-profit (NPO) for 8 months. The NPO is supporting South East Asian Entrepreneurs with consulting & marketing. I learned that supporting social entrepreneurs by consulting makes an impact on society indirectly. This learning helped me move a step forward to thinking how to support social innovation, instead of being the one making social innovation directly. In my last summer holiday as a university student, I applied for a summer school focused on social innovation in Italy and took lectures with people all over the world. I learned there’s another way to support Social Entrepreneurs other than marketing or consulting: that is investments —— impact investments. Since then, I am very interested in how to encourage investors to invest in the social innovation industry and I wrote about this as my graduation thesis at university.

I am currently finishing up my senior year at a university in Tokyo. My major is strategic management. When I was struggling about which major to choose, I found an article about how Unilever in India profited both in their business and in contributing to Indian society. This Unilever business model made me realize that business can have positive impact on the society and this model seems very reasonable. Therefore, I decided to major in strategic management and focus on social innovation.

My Gi2C internship will be at a Chinese capital start-up company that supports Western companies considering to enter the Chinese market via consulting and marketing in digital fields. I’m not quite sure what kind of work I’ll be doing yet but I strongly hope and definitely will get the following things out of my internship:

1. Have a confidence in my English ability

I have a huge complex in my English ability. I really hesitate to speak my English in front of people. However, I should overcome this complex to be what I really want to be. Through my working experience with people from all over the world using English, I would love to have a confidence in my English ability and be able to communicate professionally.

2. Develop my research/logic skills

I feel I need to develop my research and logic skills, especially the skills of converting qualitative measurement into quantitative measurement and doing research on it, for my further career. In my role as a market research & analysis intern, I want to develop these skills through daily tasks.

3. Shape my strengths as an international talent

I want to be a professional who can work borderless. I want to find my key advantages in this international professional working environment.

I chose China for my internship simply because I found the opportunity and I want to give it a try. I always wanted to have a professional experience overseas with one big and important condition: that is working as an international, or I should say “borderless” talent, not using my nationality as one of the biggest advantages. I found the opportunity that I can work not as a Japanese but as an international talent in China thanks to Gi2C. That’s why I decided to do my internship in China.

In terms of preconceived notions of China, I don’t have good impression of China. But, one thing I am really impressed by is their commerce culture. Now, you’ll easily see Chinese people everywhere in the world. They know how to localize their business and have a strong pioneering spirit. I would love to feel their commerce culture during my internship. Gi2C gave me the opportunity that I really wanted.

To prepare for my internship, I started to learn Mandarin and read some articles about China & Shanghai and culture shock. English has now become the most globally used language but I strongly believe I should try to learn the local language as well. The reason why I read about China and Shanghai is that I wanted to avoid losing face and doing something that might be a faux pas and also wanted to get to know the country and city better than I arrived so that I might easily live comfortably in Shanghai. My stay in Shanghai is only 1 month and I want to enjoy it to the max. Therefore, I searched how to overcome and handle cultural differences.

I signed up for Mandarin language classes and I anticipate to read & to write Mandarin better after the taking classes. I speak 4 other languages: Japanese, English, Korean and Arabic. I believe it’s true that you can learn new languages faster if you speak several because you know how to handle new words and grammar. When I study Mandarin, I use my knowledge of Japanese, English and Korean as follows: Japanese for Chinese characters and words, English for grammar and Korean for words.

When I first told my parents that I was coming to intern in China, they were like “Wow” and then, “You can do it. Good luck.” They actually didn’t worry about my decision to go to China for my internship. It’s my 5th day here in Shanghai and I already miss the wireless network I used to have on my phone, salads and white rice in Japan!

Brett’s China Internship in Property Investment
Olli from Finland starts an internship in China

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