Hong Kong is said to be where “East meets West” because of its influence from China and from its time as a British colony. The coat of arms features both a lion, to represent the British aspects of Hong Kong, and a Chinese dragon to represent the local aspects. Officially, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
Since becoming an SAR of China, Hong Kong and its economy have been blossoming, just like the white Hong Kong orchid on its flag. For 14 years in a row, Hong Kong has been at the number one position in the Index of Economic Freedom.
Hong Kong also has the highest number of skyscrapers in the world, and has received the honor of having the highest ranked skyline based on visual appeal. Over 90% of daily travels in Hong Kong are on the SAR’s highly developed public transportation system and the Hong Kong International Airport is consistently ranked as the best in the world.
Given all the advancements Hong Kong has gone under recently, it’s clear why it has been dubbed as one of the Four Asian Tigers of growth and advancement.
Finance: A finance intern would be a perfect fit for Hong Kong because of recent tremendous growth in the financial sector. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has the sixth largest stock exchange in the world, making the SAR one of the world’s leading financial centers characterized by low taxation and free trade. Its currency is also the eighth most traded around the world. Interns can expect to work in local and international companies in private equity, growth capital, investment banking, finance research and analysis, portfolio management, or financial consulting.
Marketing and Public Relations: As the economy of Hong Kong booms, businesses are looking more and more into consumer behavior and purchasing patterns. Industries such as advertising, public relations, and event management are increasingly growing in Hong Kong, and the opportunities are endless for these types of interns in Hong Kong. Depending on interests, interns can expect to work on advertising development, brand management, market research, promotions, and event coordination.
Medical: Healthcare services in Hong Kong are regarded as some of the best in the world. Interns could be placed in one of the SAR’s 13 private hospitals, 50 public hospitals, as well as international medical centers. Opportunities are available in a wide range of departments such as surgical, neurological, and pediatrics. Interns will be able to learn about Western medicine, as well as ancestral Chinese medicine.
Engineering: No matter what field of engineering an intern is interested in, be it chemical, electrical, mechanical, or industrial, there are positions available in Hong Kong. Interns can expect to learn how to design and implement structures, machines, systems, and processes.
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Summer internships in Hong Kong are highly popular, but internships are available throughout the year. Most internships will be located in the Central District, since it is the business district. It is recommended that you use a placement program.
Cost of Living in Hong Kong
Rent for staying in Hong Kong will vary depending on where you want to live and what kind of housing you choose. On average, a one bedroom apartment in the suburbs will cost about HK$1,200 and one bedroom apartment downtown will cost about HK$2,000.
Work Culture in Hong Kong
Handshakes are common forms of agreement; lowered eyes or a slight bow can be a sign of respect, although this is not required. Business negotiations often take time, and patience is important. There is also a heavy emphasis on long-term and personal relationship building. Although in business the Chinese are verbal communicators, they also use non-verbal cues and silence does not necessarily need to be broken. Often, silence is a sign that your co-worker or business partner is thinking.
English and Chinese are Hong Kong’s two official languages. The Cantonese dialect is most common in Hong Kong, but other dialects such as Mandarin, Shanghainese, and Chiu-Chow can be heard as well. English is frequently used in business, and most service operators also have a basic understanding of the language. If you are using a placement program, it may or may not require you to already know some level of Chinese or take courses.
Since there is a heavy emphasis on building relationships, interns in Hong Kong will be expected to participate in this tradition by networking. Many businesses are family-owned, and having a personal relationship will help advance business opportunities.
Visas for Interning in Hong Kong
When seeking an internship in China, it's important to make certain that your employer and/or provider is submitting you for the correct visa and work permit. Foreign interns in China need to have a "special business F visa" that specifically prohibits compensation. Be wary of any provider promising paid internships in China. For more information, consult these resources: R&P Lawyers & China Briefing.
To intern in Hong Kong, you will need a Training Visa. A training visa will last for 12 months, and cannot be extended; it is available for citizens of most countries. In order to obtain this visa, you will need to first have a company that will be hiring you and working with you as your sponsor - whether found through a placement program or not. Forms for the applicant and the sponsor and more specifics can be found at the Immigration Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Work and Labor Laws in Hong Kong
Currently in Hong Kong, there is no strict minimum wage or maximum hours for employees in general. There are also no laws specifically relating to internships. More information can be found at the website of The Government of Hong Kong.