Alumni Spotlight: Quentin Collette

Quentin Collette graduated with a masters in civil engineering in 2009, and in business management in 2011. He is a PhD student and lecturer assistant at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels, Dutch-speaking part) in Brussels (Belgium, Europe). He participates in international scientific conferences and publishes journal papers about his research on historical riveted connections.

Why did you decide to intern abroad with Hutong School in Beijing?

SOHO Shangdu Tower

Quentin: In the coming years, I'm planning to move abroad and I'm actually hesitating between several destinations (US, China or the United Arab Emirates). So that's why I decided to do an internship in China, and preferably in Beijing as I already visited Shanghai for a short business trip in 2010. The internship programmes and packages offered by Hutong School are great as they combine the placement in an internship, evening Chinese classes, accommodation, and cultural activities! The wide choice of internship offers allows to personalize the programme depending on your wishes and needs. Moreover, it is an all-in-one offer, which allowed me to save a lot of time. The staff members of Hutong School - once again many thanks Laura - managed everything quickly and efficiently. This was a very important criterion to me, as I don't have a lot of time. Finally, the experience of Hutong School gained over the years definitely convinced me to chose them!

What made this experience unique and special?

Quentin: Everything went fine and fluidly throughout the whole duration of the stay. The real value-added of such experience relies on the social interactions within the group of interns and other students of Hutong School. It is a real community in which everyone interacts with each other. You live together (shared apartments) but you also eat, drink, visit, go party and thus have a lot of fun together! This makes your stay so exciting and full of emotions and good times. I met people from numerous countries, and having different backgrounds and cultures. And our Chinese teacher was very kind and friendly!

In addition, I had exciting and challenging responsibilities at the company for which I worked. I'm a civil engineer and I wanted to "taste" something completely different, such as business and marketing. Thanks to my internship, I was literally catapulted into another world, and that was wonderful. The team was international and I also had a lot of fun with them. For example, we tasted a new restaurant - to me of course - almost everyday for lunch. Such features - interns' community combined with the colleagues at work - are definitely 'the' things that made my experience wonderful. I'll never forget it, for sure!

How has this experience impacted your future?

Amazing and breathtaking views from the Great Wall at Mutianyu.

Quentin: First of all, it changed me. I had the opportunity to live in China for a short period in almost total immersion within the Chinese culture! Basically, it changed and opened my mind. You gain so much by learning another language, way of behaving, thinking, etc. I was also very impressed several times during my stay: China is growing and developing so fast! Secondly, the professional experience gained will help me to refine my career's choices and options for the future. I had the opportunity to work in a recently launched private company in a completely different sector (business and marketing, internet sector), so this will clearly positively impact my future. And finally, it's a real-life experience! I'm pretty sure that everyone who's doing such internship package and stay abroad will be, let's say, different at the end. You gain in self-confidence, management, communication skills, and in short, you're stronger!

What was the highlight of your experience?

Quentin: That's too difficult of a there were so many moments highlighting my stay in Beijing. If I had to pick one, I'd say again all the good times I had with other interns and students of Hutong School!

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Beijing?

Quentin: In just three words ... my advice would be very short and clear: GO FOR IT! Don't hesitate even one single second: if you want to intern abroad, then just do it. More fundamentally, I'd give three main tips. First, try to learn some Chinese before moving abroad as this will make you feel much more comfortable on a daily basis. I had some Chinese classes in my country, and it helped me a lot, especially to strengthen and improve my knowledge much quicker. Secondly, stay at least 2 months, preferably 3 or even more if possible, to be able to have a better idea of the life there, the culture and the city. I spent only one month in Beijing, which is way too short ! Thirdly, keep in mind that the internship programme is quite intense (working during the day, Chinese classes in the evening) so don't forget to add at least 1 week off for sightseeing and holidays at the end of the internship period. There are so many things to see and to do in Beijing and elsewhere in China or even in Asia. By the way, Beijing is an exciting city, a day-and-night beating heart!