Staff Spotlight: Virginia Zheng

Next Step Connections Shanghai Program Advisor
Having grown up as a third culture kid, Virginia has lived in Indonesia, Singapore, China, and the UK. Virginia has been in China since 1997 and spent time in Shanghai, Qingdao, and Xiamen as a student and working professional. A postgraduate student of Sport Management from Loughborough University, UK, Virginia spends her leisure time playing sports, traveling, and trying different cuisines. Virginia joined NSC in March 2011 as the Program Manager managing the different programs and teams in NSC Shanghai. She is fluent in English, Mandarin, Indonesian, and intermediate in French. Prior to NSC, Virginia has worked in trading, real estate consulting, and sports.

Virginia Zheng - Program Manager at Next Step Connections

What makes interning in Shanghai a unique experience for interns?

Virginia: China is seen as the major player in the economic growth in the Far East, and at the heart of that growth is the city of Shanghai. However, there is much more to interning in China than experiencing a vibrant, passionate and energetic workplace. The idea that there is a totally new culture in China is something that intrigues a lot of young people, many of whom have never been outside of Europe or America. There is a feeling that coming to China is an opportunity to put your skills in the workplace into practice, but also a chance to see if you can cope in a challenging environment.

What can you tell us about the workplace culture in Shanghai?

Virginia: Compared to a Western workplace, a Shanghai office is not hugely different. People are very punctual here, so any meetings or deadlines that have been arranged should be followed very closely. Chinese people are very curious to learn about western people, so expect lots of questions about your home culture! On the other side however, Chinese people are very caring and open to foreign interns asking questions about their culture, their language and their cuisine! We suggest students be open-minded and ready to accept cultural differences.

What level of Mandarin proficiency should interns have when considering this internship? Is prior work experience required?

Virginia: Mandarin proficiency is not required to apply for an internship in Shanghai as they will be assigned an English speaking supervisor. Learning some Mandarin prior to the internship would be helpful but not compulsory. Interns are not required to have work experience prior to applying. Any previous experience would be a plus in the application process. Next Step Connections offers Mandarin courses as part of the programs. These are tailor-made one on one lessons enabling students to learn at their own pace.

What are some extra-curricular activities participants enjoy while interning in Shanghai?

Virginia: NSC organizes social and professional events including social dinners, trips to nearby cities/towns, professional networking events and fun activities during the program period for our interns. These events provide a platform for all interns to meet new friends from all around the world.

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

Virginia: There are several different tips when you are considering an internship abroad in Shanghai. The number one tip would be: JUST DO IT! If you are thinking about doing this then you will be well aware of the huge cultural differences, the strange new food and the different way of life, but you will also be aware of the huge opportunity spending time in Shanghai can provide. It is important to have an open mind and list the things you wish you accomplish from this experience prior to your trip.

Anything else you would like to share?

Virginia: Come to Shanghai! Experience this dynamic city and the business environment. It will be one decision you will not regret making!