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What It's Like To Work In A Chinese Company: My internship experience in WAE
Author:Madina Bekmukhambetova  Date:2017-11-07  Clicks:

After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Foreign languages: Chinese-English, I was completely sure that I wanted to continue my studies in China.  Luckily, I was one of the winners of a “Chinese bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition and have been awarded with a scholarship by the Chinese embassy. After considering for a while I decided to get myself admitted to one of the most beautiful universities in China - Wuhan university, that offers the best employment prospects for graduates.

Three years studying in China has given me a real insight into this amazing country. Getting the opportunity to live and study in a country like China is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Learning to navigate a foreign city, gaining work experience, making valuable connections in your chosen industry, and living outside of your comfort zone – that are just some of the benefits of studying abroad.

WHU has given me more than I had expected, I got a great platform to explore various avenues of a rich student life. Joining one of the great student associations – WISU (Wuhan University International Student’s Union) – has been one of my best decisions. Becoming an active student is more than participating in activities and events. By helping organizing school activities you will not only develop yourself academically, but you will also master certain soft skills. Skills that you will only learn outside your study program, but which are beneficial and necessary once you will make a start on the labour market.

Last year WISU organized and supported numerous activities such as Chinese debates, Cultural festival, Sport events and so on. For a better understanding of Chinese “One Belt, One Road” Initiative, International Students of Wuhan University under the guidance of WISU team took part in the activity organized by Changjiang Daily and Wuhan Citizens' home  –  a lecture about Belt and Road Initiative 一带一路一家人. It was an excellent introductory lecture about the operation of freight trains from Wuhan through the countries along the One belt, One Road to Western Europe. Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics Co., Ltd shared its experience and stories of moving freight along this route. It arose interest amongst the international students in the field of logistics, Belt and Road railway routes, International trade and tariff policies. After the lively discussion WAE offered International Students from around the world the chance to complete an internship in the company.

 

It is not a secret that China is the world’s fastest growing economy, so, I knew that no matter what, an internship in China would give me valuable work experience. So, after I came across this opportunity to work in a Chinese company, I said to myself why not? As for me, doing an internship is the best way to practice and improve Chinese language, the best opportunity to learn many things that I haven't gotten to learn in class.  With all the excitement of possibility of working with Chinese people, I prepared my CV and sent it to managers. I was kind of confident that I’ll make it, and yes to my luck, I was selected. 

About the work itself

My experience started in July and currently I am working at the Purchasing Department as a Project manager, which suits me perfectly. Multi-lingual foreigners are in huge demand in China. Being able to communicate using different languages can open more doors and unlock unlimited opportunities. For instance, the ability to speak 4 languages allows me to communicate with any company from Commonwealth of Independent States and serve a wider range of clients, what makes me more valuable to the company.

Recently I took part in the project of importing milk from the famous Belarusian dairy company “Savushkin product”. The products have already entered into top supermarket chains in Wuhan – 中百(zhongbai),武商 (wushang) and many others. Now I am working on new import projects in partnership with my colleagues - chocolate and vegetable oil. Before importing a certain kind of food product we need to consider many things, we need to figure out what product will suit Chinese tastes and which product will generate more profit for the company. The best thing to import completely depends on the market condition.

Our team is a talented mix of young, energetic professionals. I am working among the best managers, so I need to give my best to be part of this successful team. This is what encourages me to get out of bed in the morning and head to work. Some people can have difficulties adapting to the culture so you should be prepared - the Chinese are extremely hard working and rarely miss a day’s work.

How is it to work in a Chinese company?  

As everything else here in China, my days start in a peculiar way: the metro. Metro at 7 a.m. is when a huge amount of people coming in and getting out in every station, pushing, squeezing, and there is always space for someone else! Definitely, competitiveness skills are something you easily develop while here.

After the metro we take the company bus to the office. I think most people don’t have time to have breakfast at home, that is why they prefer to buy fresh food outside and eat breakfast on the bus. When it comes to understanding Chinese culture and social etiquette, there is just one overarching rule: When in China, do as the Chinese do! So, If you see me eating 热干面 (local food in Wuhan - hot dry noodles) on the move or on the bus, don’t be surprised! Try to eat like others and you will appreciate more of the culture and even save money!

Finally, approximately 2 hours after leaving home, I arrive at the WAE.

At the office there are more than 200 people. After arriving at the company, we have a short gathering, starting with a roll call. The purpose of any morning meeting is to motivate your people and get them prepared to focus on work. So here comes the next part, which makes our meetings inspiring, motivating and effective ­­- singing! Usually mornings in WAE start with two songs - one is a motivational company anthem in Chinese, second – any popular song in English. It is difficult to believe, but sometimes I automatically start singing the company song even on weekends.

After a tiring day, we leave the office at 4:30 pm. Once more, a crazy metro trip is waiting for me. Arriving home is also one of the best feelings ever. And I don’t have difficulties to fall asleep anymore! 

What I like about my internship experience

Under the leadership and guidance of my amazing mentors, I got exposed to many opportunities and learnt from the best. There were interesting events such as the Inter-Departmental singing competition, opening ceremonies in the biggest supermarkets of Wuhan city, meetings with representatives of foreign companies and manufacturers, where I was encouraged to join as well.

One of the most memorable parts of my internship was the business trip to Inner Mongolia. I was selected to attend the third Sino-Russian timber and wood products trade Investment forum in Erenhot city.

Challenges that I met during my internship 

As I am a student of Political Science, it was quite difficult to understand how Chinese export-import system works so I had to learn the basics of International trade very fast. It was challenging at times when I was faced with documents in Chinese or English, which I had not seen or heard before. For example, official documents, such as purchasing contracts, packing lists, certificate of origin or free sales certification.  However, I was fortunate to have helpful and friendly colleagues and mentors who would take the time and effort to guide me. There were also training sessions with customs officers conducted by our company for us to learn about the procedure of importing food products to China.

What I learnt from my internship

Working on a large number of international projects means you have to work with people from different cultures, be it clients or colleagues. It took me time to adopt a relatable and professional approach, but I learned how to communicate with different personalities and handle various situations.
I started appreciating the feedbacks I receive, positive and negative. I think them through and take in as accomplishments or just something that I need to work on to make into accomplishments.
The things I’ve gotten to experience and draw from during my ongoing internship have made me a better colleague, better friend, a better person and I can’t wait for what’s next!

Internship in WAE is a fantastic introduction to life in China as Chinese people - something everyone should experience.

My advice to students who want to do internship

Interact - Build good relationships with your colleagues, make friends. They will make working in a competitive environment so enjoyable.

When in doubt, never be afraid to ask! I found that my managers are more than happy to answer my queries.

 

Edited by Hu Sijia

Source: WISU (Wuhan University International Student’s Union)

 

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