China is currently the second largest economy in the world with Shanghai as a leader city with major entry opportunities for entrepreneurs and leaders alike. Shanghai is rich in discoveries and new opportunities. From expatriate-run boxing matches, to martial arts lessons, to culturally diverse restaurants, and a nightlife that is unparalleled to most Western cities, this city has plenty to offer for you to explore. Shanghai, with a population estimated to be nearly 25 million, is growing and fast-changing. Witness the development of Shanghai as it exerts its influence as the hub of the world's booming economy.
As a global city, Shanghai plays an important role in international commerce, finance, culture, art, fashion, research, gastronomy, and entertainment. Even as a strong global player in many facets, Shanghai still has plenty of market space for growth and innovation, thus creating major entry opportunities for entrepreneurs and leaders alike. You can see the city's development before your eyes with towering skyscrapers, thriving small businesses, hundreds of shopping and entertainment centers, and more.
Shanghai is also one of Asia's most popular tourist destinations, renowned for its historical and modern landmarks such as The Bund, Yuyuan Garden, the French Concession, and the Pudong skyline. Here, you find a fascinating integration of cultures—the modern and the traditional, and the western and the eastern—as reflected by Shanghai's architecture. Shanghai's historic architecture catches the eye with its iconic and ever-towering Pudong skyline, which houses the Oriental Pearl Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center (two of the world's tallest buildings). Shanghai's contemporary culture is shaped by the culture-cross of Western customs and Chinese traditions, making for a truly fascinating place for a summer of exploration.
China’s booming economy makes its leading top tier city, Shanghai, an ideal place for internships within a large scale of industries. You can find opportunities in finance, education, start-ups, non-profit organizations, law, art, F&B, and more. In addition, it is common for companies in Shanghai to have an English speaking staff, which makes it easier for foreign interns to adjust to. Lastly, Shanghai has been praised by many professionals to be the most international city in the world. Anywhere you go, you can expect to meet people from all over the world.
If you choose to intern in Shanghai, you must have an F Visa (internship visa). People with a tourist or student visa are not legally allowed to intern or work in China. To apply for an F Visa, you must apply at your nearest Chinese embassy before arriving to China. You cannot apply for an F Visa in China; this must be done outside of the mainland. You would need a letter of support from your internship employer. If you cannot lock in an internship prior to arriving to China, then it’d be best to through an internship provider to assist you with internship placement and F visa preparation. With an F visa, you cannot be paid a salary. Only people with Z (work Visas) can receive remuneration for their labor. However, your internship employer can reimburse you with cash for your expenses (housing, food and more) accumulated during your internship.
Learn Chinese Language (Mandarin) and Culture
China’s economy continues to grow at a pace that will dominate the U.S. as the number one economy in the world by 2020 as stated by The Economist, thus making Mandarin one of the most important languages for business interactions and career development. According to the Summer Institute for Linguistics, one out of every five people in the world speaks Chinese. More and more English speakers are now learning Chinese as a second language to increase their career prospects and business opportunities. Proficiency in Chinese facilitates communication with Chinese counterparts, thereby eliminating misunderstanding and avoiding unnecessary lapses. Being able to speak one of the most difficult languages in the world is also a qualification that can be used for tangible career benefits.
There are many methods of learning Chinese (Mandarin) in Shanghai. You can enroll in a university with a full-time course load and receive sponsorship for the student visa (most expensive method). Alternatively, you can arrive to Shanghai on a tourist visa and then look for private language institution that can offer you language courses at a much lower price than the universities. The language institution may or may not be able to provide you a student visa, but that is not compulsory to take Chinese classes.
Emphasis in learning English is valued highly in Shanghai society. Children in Shanghai begin learning English in first grade and most of them are expected to study abroad for college. English teachers at government schools and private institutions are constantly in demand in Shanghai. Foreign teachers can immerse themselves in the most modern and fastest growing city in the world, while making a difference to hundreds of students in preparation to pursue college abroad.
The average salary for a foreign English teacher teaching K-12 students in Shanghai is RMB10,000/month. For teaching preschool students, the average salary is RMB17,000/month. As for test-prep, compensation is highly based on experience. The hourly wage to teach test-prep can rage from RMB150 to RMB1,000. One-on-one tutoring through an agency pays about RMB150 to RMB200 an hour. If you plan to teach independently, you can set your own prices and conditions. Note that it is expected for the Chinese employer to pay for your taxes in China. You are responsible to file for your own taxes in your home country. It is recommended that you browse English teaching jobs in China before arriving in Shanghai.
Planning Your Trip
Cost of Living in Shanghai
Cost of living in Shanghai has a large range as reflected by people’s incomes. Minimum wage for an uneducated Chinese national is RMB1,300/month while for a foreigner it’s RMB4,000/month. The starting salary for a Chinese college graduate is RMB2,000/month; a foreign English teacher is RMB10,000/month; and a corporate manager is at least RMB40,000/month.
People’s large range of income reflects the large range of cost of living in Shanghai. You can find housing for RMB2,000/month for a studio or for RMB10,000/month of the same size, but in a more central area. For food, you can eat a full meal at a small Chinese shop for RMB8 or a regular meal at a nicer restaurant for RMB150. Shanghai is as affordable or as costly as you make it to be.
If you come to Shanghai through an internship provider, all your necessities should be taken care of for you and included in your package, such as housing, medical insurance, and more. If you can lock in a teaching job prior to arriving to China, the employer may guarantee you housing upon arrival.
Health and Safety in Shanghai
Shanghai is a fairly safe city. Areas of greatest concern are the foreigner targeted nightclub areas, such as Luwan District. These areas can be a bit more risky late at night when the establishments close at 4 AM at the latest.
Pickpocketing is a big issue in Shanghai. Police and security are fairly present in the city in navy uniforms, and they can be reached by dialing 110. The pedestrian area of Nanjing Road is the area where travellers should exercise the most caution, especially on the edges by the intersection with Henan Road, and the intersection with Xizang (Tibet) Road.
When crossing streets, be aware that motorists, bicyclists, and motorcyclists will most likely not stop for you, but try to find the shortest way around you. Bus drivers are also quite aggressive and make wide turns, watch out for the mirrors, which project quite far out -- these are very dangerous for pedestrians. Even walking on the sidewalk is a challenge when bikes, motorcycles and the scary silent motorized bikes whiz by without warning -- it's best to walk on a straight, predictable path to avoid being hit.
Beware of hot humid days - the pollution can become so heavy that it can cause respiratory problems. To avoid this try sightseeing in the morning and evening and stay indoors on very hot days. (Trip Advisor).
The requirements and costs for a Chinese Visa are different for each city/country of residence. Consult with your nearest Chinese embassy for the most updated information on applying for a Visa to China. (Visa Rite).
- L Visa: If you plan to just travel in Shanghai and/or Greater China for fun, then apply for a one year L Visa. It is recommended to state 90 days as your longest intended stay among all entries of your intended visits in China, otherwise you would have to exit the country every 30/60 days. You cannot work/intern in China with a L Visa.
- F Visa: If you plan to intern or do business in Shanghai and/or Greater China, apply for a one year F Visa. It is recommended to state 90 days as your longest intended stay among all entries of your intended visits in China, otherwise you would have to exit the country every 30/60 days. You are not allowed to earn money in China with an F Visa. However, your employer is allowed to reimburse you for your expenses while in China. The F Visa can only be issued at your nearest Chinese embassy outside of China. The F Visa requires a letter of support, which can be provided by an internship provider or the employer.
- X and Z Visa: You can apply for the X Visa (student visa) or Z Visas (work visa) before entering China or once you are in China. Both visas require letter of support from your sponsor and a health check up. Please check the latest visa requirements at your nearest Chinese embassy.
Contributed by Global Apprenticeship
Gap Year Programs in Shanghai
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