Staff Spotlight: Michaela Williams


What position do you hold at Startup China What has your career path been?

I work with Startup China where I hold a Marketing Manager position, Startup China is an Internship and Study Abroad provider. I've had some great opportunities during my career so far; I have worked with an Organic PR agency and a multi-national NGO in New Zealand, I then went on to work in a busy newsroom with an Australian media company. Finally I decided that I wanted to take my career a step further and took off for the vibrant, economic hub that is China where I commenced working with Startup China! Experiencing Chinese business culture and working in the economic centre of the world is definitely the highlight of my career so far, the experience is incomparable.

Did YOU study abroad? If so, where did you go and what inspired you to go?

Travelling and seeing the world has always been a goal for me, anyone who knows me knows that I love travelling and my list of places to go is endless! I grew up in South Africa and moved to New Zealand where I completed my degree at AUT University. Studying and working abroad is a fantastic experience that I highly recommend! Leaving my comfort zone and learning about a new culture and different ways of thinking helped me to grow tremendously as a person and definitely changed my outlook on life. When I decided to move to China I really wanted the 'culture shock' experience of living in a country with an extreme cultural and language difference to what I was used to and it has been genuinely rewarding so far.

What does the future hold for Startup China - any new programs to share?

With exclusively paid Internships and Chinese Language programs available in breathtaking Beijing and vibrant Shanghai, every program through Startup China is exciting! Program participants enjoy weekly social and cultural events in two of the biggest cities in China so there is never an opportunity to be bored. Providing high quality services and truly valuable experiences is our focus here at Startup China. There are too many young people coming out of internships without gaining any real business skills, and it is our goal to make sure that every one of our program participants gains valuable skills that they can later carry through to their professional careers. We believe that interns should be rewarded for their efforts and thus we offer exclusively paid Internships where every intern receives a small salary to cover daily expenses such as travel and lunch. Startup China have proudly partnered up with an industry leading Mandarin school, That's Mandarin, to offer all of our program participants the best possible opportunity to learn Mandarin in Beijing and Shanghai.

What about the future of the industry? How do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?

With the pool of university graduates growing around the world and the job market becoming more competitive, it is imperative that graduates, students and young professionals do everything they can to put themselves ahead. Studying abroad and especially interning abroad is becoming the number one way to do this. Many graduates with little work experience find it hard to break into the job market and an internship placement will give them the added skills they need, especially if they gain knowledge of Chinese business culture and Chinese language in the process. With the globalization of the job market, people no longer feel bound by geographical barriers when looking for a job and an overseas internship placement greatly increases the likelihood of finding a full time job abroad. Globalization also means that language skills are in greater demand and in my opinion over the next 10 years, being multi lingual will be essential.

Which study abroad destination is most underrated?

Although it is very popular, people still underestimate the value of studying and interning in China. China is a powerhouse country with the fastest growing economy and is showing no sign of slowing down. Corporations from every country are vying to do business with China and the value of knowledge about Chinese business culture and Chinese language is extremely high. Chinese business culture can be studied from abroad but you will never have a true understanding of how it works until you have experienced it for yourself. In my opinion an overrated study abroad destination is any country that isn't showing substantial growth and international influence. Studying abroad should be a great personal experience but also a strategic move for your future career and therefore aiming for a country like China that is on the rise is a wise decision.