Staff Spotlight: Alice Thompson


Alice is the External Relations Manager for the UK, managing corporate and governmental partnerships, and working with regional offices to improve pre-departure processes. Alice started her career in the charity sector as a manager for a London based volunteering charity, before moving to CRCC Asia as the UK Regional Manager. Alice has travelled extensively and is passionate about the importance of international experience.

Tell us more about your role at CRCC Asia. What's your most enjoyable aspect of the position?

Alice: My role at CRCC Asia focuses on maintaining the quality of our pre-departure process, and keeping our global teams up to date with changes to our programs on the ground in China. I also manage the selection process of candidates for the CRCC Asia program funded by The British Council's Generation UK initiative. I have always been a strong believer in international experience, so I feel very lucky to work for an organisation that helps young people to take their first step in China. I really enjoy following current affairs involving China, and talking about China's importance with our applicants and alumni.

Have you ever interned or worked about? What was the most rewarding part of your experience?

After university I spent a year in South America, volunteering, travelling and learning Spanish. I think travelling and living abroad is the best way of understanding the world better, and developing friendships with people from Peru to New Zealand has given me a truly global perspective. Gaining a conversational level of a foreign language meant that I could communicate and connect with people I never imagined I would meet. Whether forging a relationship of trust with a young mother whose house we were rebuilding after it had been destroyed by an earthquake, or chatting about politics with locals on long bus journeys, every conversation taught me something new and every person left a lasting impression.

How do you see the international internship market changing over the next 5 years?

Alice: Every time I speak to recruiters at any organisation they always say how much value they place on international experience when hiring staff. With the economic downturn and the increase in university fees, I think that international experience will become an integral part of higher education, and that university courses will increasingly integrate international internships into the requirements for graduation. No one can deny that we now live in a globalised world that is more competitive than ever, so I think that organisations at every level will start to recognize this and support international experience.

What's the most memorable story/experience you've heard from a past intern?

Alice: We placed one intern with an online game design company, which suited his background in IT. However, when he started his placement they learnt more about his background in IT and gave him responsibility for a major project that they didn't previously have the expertise for within the company. He did such a good job that he was asked to stay on with the company, and took up a permanent position in Shanghai.

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

Alice: Don't sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you. This applies to everything in life, but particularly when abroad. It takes courage and initiative to travel to China, but that doesn't change when you step off the plane. To make the most of the experience it is important to explore the city you are living in and to be unafraid of new experiences. At the office, interns should be committed to the work they are given, but also look at new projects they could develop, and how they could contribute to the company in ways they may not have foreseen. The internship isn't just about showing up at work every day, it's about challenging yourself, developing new skills, and learning everything you can about such a fascinating country.