Alumni Spotlight: David Buchanan

David has a passion for travel and is always looking for an opportunity to go abroad in either a professional or leisure context. He interned at PR Century, a business development company in Beijing in 2012. and graduated Strathclyde University with a BEng in Chemical & Process Engineering in 2013. David worked in the Private Banking sector in Canary Wharf, London, as a Project Manager before returning home to begin teaching maths at a high school in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Why did you choose this program?

I was studying engineering at university at the time but was interested in a career in business so wanted to get some experience in that field. When I came across CRCC, the opportunity to go abroad as well as gain work experience seemed too good to turn down!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CRCC was great pre-departure. My visa and company placement was all dealt with through them. I was also able to attend a pre-departure drinks evening in London to meet some fellow interns the week before we headed out to China.

They provided me with great accommodation right in the city centre and a welcome pack which contained a guide book, subway pass and SIM card, amongst other useful bits of information.

When in Beijing, numerous activities were organised for us including dinners, an acrobat show, Mandarin lessons and tickets to a Manchester City v. Arsenal friendly match at the Birds' Nest Stadium.

The only thing I really had to sort myself was my flights, however CRCC did offer assistance if required.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I think the information CRCC provided was excellent. The only thing was I didn't know the company I was going to be interning with until I arrived and so I couldn't prepare anything. This wasn't an issue and I got on fine with the work, however, I packed a lot of formal work clothes (shirts and ties, etc.) and the company wore casual clothes in the office so it would have been good to know that in advance.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Generally, everyone on the program worked Monday to Friday 9-5. I met up with fellow interns almost every night for dinner (cheaper to eat out that buy from the supermarket!) and occasionally went sightseeing too.

On the weekends, CRCC usually had some sort of voluntary event on or again we would all meet up and explore our amazing surroundings.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was truly stepping out of my comfort zone for the first time. I'd never left Europe or traveled myself but I was totally up for the challenge.

The way I viewed it was that China was such an extreme contrast from what I was used to and I'd either love it and never look back, or regret it but still have this amazing experience on my CV and another country ticked off my bucket list! Gladly it was the first one, the experience was so much better than I'd ever imagined!

What did you gain from interning abroad?

It may sound a bit strange but the actual internship was only a small part of the experience!

I learned so much outside of the workplace, developing my soft skills and networking with like-minded young people from all around the world and CRCC was really at the center of making this happen.

I still keep in contact with many of the fellow interns and although it didn't happen for me, I know a few people who were actually offered jobs from their host company at the end of their internships.