Alumni Spotlight: Shawn Schneider


Shawn is a student at Clarkson University in the United States majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He spent two months in Hong Kong in 2018 working on product development for a small start-up in the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park in order to travel the world without giving up a summer of engineering experience.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the program that I found through The Intern Group because I wanted to travel the world without giving up a summer of engineering experience, which is highly valuable in the eyes of employers. Since I knew nothing about Hong Kong, The Intern Group made it easy to complete an internship here as they took care of my training visa, set up interviews with employers, found appropriate housing with other interns, and set up events to explore the city and dive further into the cultural aspect that I may not have experienced otherwise.

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

The Intern Group set up interviews with local companies, applied for and shipped my Hong Kong training visa to me, set up my housing in a 3-bedroom apartment shared with two other interns from The Intern Group, set up excursions to Victoria Peak, Lantau Island, and Macau, and set up smaller weekly events to help with the experience. Furthermore, they guaranteed my money back if they could not find a company that would hire me, which was good for peace of mind.

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

My advice for anyone debating whether or not to do this program is, "Just do it." I was really on the fence when I made my decision to go because engineering internships in the United States pay very well, compared to me paying to do an internship in Hong Kong. But it is NOT about the money. My experience in Hong Kong was priceless. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I found to be worth every single penny. I could not be happier with my decision to go.

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

In Hong Kong, work typically starts around 9-10 AM and concludes between 6-7 PM. Therefore, the main explorations involved finding different restaurants and food for dinner, and spending time getting to know the other interns. The weekend is when you may really immerse yourself in the beauty of the city. You can explore the far outreaches and the hidden gems, but be sure to make the most of the time you have because it will come to an end quicker than you expect!

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 going into the internship was that I wouldn't like it. I'm from a small town outside of Buffalo, New York, so moving to a city in Asia with 8 million people, public transportation, different food, different language, and a completely different culture was intimidating.

However, as I began to explore and learn the city of Hong Kong, I found a passion for the city life that I never knew I had. I appreciated the beauty of the skyscrapers, the ease of travel through public transportation (and Uber!) I enjoyed all of the food and got really good with chopsticks, and I found that most people speak enough English to get what you need! All of the different fears I had about moving to Hong Kong quickly became nonexistent, and I absolutely loved my experience.

What are the musts in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, there are a few things that every traveler needs to try. The first is eating with friends at a dim sum restaurant. Everyone sits together at a circular table and orders a few items that they would like – stuffed dumplings, spring rolls, flour rolls, egg rolls, rice, noodles, and more. When the food comes, everyone shares. This way, everyone gets to try a little bit of everything. Then, since everyone likes cheap souvenirs and gifts, check out The Ladies Market in Mong Kok or the Temple Street Night market in Tsim Sha Tsui, and be sure to bargain for a better price!

For hiking enthusiasts, I would recommend the Lion's Rock. It is much less trafficked than other hikes and offers a beautiful view over all of Kowloon and the New Territories and the main district on Hong Kong Island. Be sure to bring lots of water, and be prepared for a steep climb!

Also, the best nightlife is at Lai Kwai Fung in Central, with both bars and clubs, but be warned it is expensive. A few other things to keep you busy will be exploring the city, finding good spots for photos (many people like the multicolored Choi Hung District), exploring Chinese temples that are hidden all over the city, and going to the beach! If you do choose to go to Hong Kong, there is always something to do. There is never a dull moment in this city!