Tell us more about your role at CRCC Asia in Beijing. What's your most enjoyable aspect of the position?
Kay: I am the General Manager of the Beijing office which means I have to ensure the smooth running of all our operations here. I manage our team of staff here in Beijing, the overall running of the internship program, and most importantly, I make sure that all of the interns who come to Beijing stay safe and happy. There is so much about my job that I enjoy! I like working in a multicultural team of Chinese and Western colleagues in a city that I love. I also feel satisfied when working with our host companies and interns and seeing the benefits of our program first hand!
Do interns need prior work experience or to apply for an internship? How about Mandarin proficiency?
Kay: Interns do not necessarily need prior work experience and they certainly don't need to speak Mandarin in order to be able to take part in our internships. If interns have previous work experience then this will be appreciated by a company, but likewise if you have done some volunteering, extra curricular activities or non-office work then this will also benefit your application. We are looking for interns who are proactive, keen to learn and gain work experience in a completely different cultural environment. This should be evidenced on your application and in your interview and is what counts the most. As for Mandarin, you won't need to speak it in the office as we always place interns with an English-speaking supervisor. When you are getting out and about in China then it is good to know some basic words, which is why we provide you with beginner Mandarin classes as part of our internship program.
Did you intern abroad?
Kay: I worked in China as a volunteer during my gap year before university, when I was only 18. I can safely say that this was one of the best experiences of my life! Working and living in China is a very challenging but enjoyable experience. It really takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you independent, adaptable and able to think on your feet. Working abroad is a very rewarding experience because you feel a sense of achievement on a daily basis - when managing to order food when you can't read the menu or speak the language; when making friends with your Chinese colleagues; when having your first conversation in Chinese with your taxi driver. The other aspect is that you can travel to exciting places whilst living abroad - in my opinion a weekend away in Shanghai or Xian beats a weekend in the UK any day!
Anything else you'd like to share?
Kay: Expect the unexpected! But that doesn't mean that you can't be prepared. Read up on the country you are going to including guide books, novels and factual books in order to get a sense of the country. However, you should still go with an open mind and I think the best piece of advice is to go with the flow - if a colleague invites you out for lunch go, if you want to go and see a cultural event then do it, make the most of your opportunities and experiences whilst abroad.