5 specific skills that can be learned from an internship in China
The opportunity to step into a new culture and immerse yourself into new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes is something you will surely come to love about China. There are so many things to experience and multiple avenues for gaining valuable cultural agility as you complete your internship in China. Entering a completely new culture can at first be a bit intimidating to some, but this experience provides its own set of unique benefits and lessons. Gaining cross-cultural exposure to hone skills such as learning how to greet someone in the Chinese workplace, as well as understanding the importance of a Chinese business relationship will benefit your global employability.
Employers are always very curious to learn about how a potential employee can adapt to certain challenges and how they behave in unfamiliar situations. In fact, this is commonly one of the most vital questions asked in an initial interview from the employer’s perspective. Not only is the ability to adapt an important intrapersonal skill, but it can also be a strong indication of how a potential employee may react to changes, last-minute deadlines, and certain expectations that are set forth in the workplace. Adaptability is a useful skill to gain no matter where you go, but whether you are experiencing the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, the tradition and ancient culture of Beijing, or the innovation of Shenzhen, you will be forced to adapt and challenge yourself to adjust to your new environment. After completing an internship in China, you will certainly have numerous talking points and personal examples to answer that very important question of “could you tell us about a time you had to adapt to change?”
Even with prior internship and industry experience in your home country, participating in an internship in China will most likely be completely different than any other internship you may have held before. Especially for those from Western and low-context cultures, there are so many things unique to Chinese business that will be completely new and unfamiliar when you first begin your internship in China. Each industry plays its own unique role in the overall economy of China, and whether you are experiencing technology in Shenzhen, finance in Shanghai, or NGOs in Beijing, you will surely come to understand some of the countless things that make companies in China so unique. Not only will this allow you to broaden your knowledge of the industry, but it will also provide an experience that is unique only to you – as every industry, company, supervisor, and position in China are unique in their own way! When the time comes to apply for that dream job, having a resume listing an internship in China will be sure to catch the eye of your potential employer, and could prove to be an excellent conversation-starter!
Effective communication is vital in the workplace, and this will certainly be heightened when you are introduced to life in China. Even if you do not speak a word of Mandarin, you should want to work to learn the communication styles of your office space. After work, simply learning common phrases like “where is the train station?” or saying “thank you” after receiving your meal at a restaurant can prove to be very beneficial as you work to adapt to the culture of China. You will also come to learn how communication is treated much differently in informal settings vs. in the business setting. Understanding how you should communicate with your supervisor vs. your friends, how you can effectively get your point across even in the presence of a language barrier, and even the perception of your body language are things that you will learn and will allow you to improve your overall communication skills.
Many of us are unfortunately keen to believe that the world revolves around our every want, need, and action. While confidence is an excellent skill to have, sometimes the line between confidence and cockiness can blur. During the bustle of our own lives, it becomes easy for us to forget just how large and diverse the world really is, with so many different avenues and approaches to success and well-being. Traveling to China will allow you to see and experience so many aspects of life that are completely different from those that have made you who you are today. Humility is incredibly important to possess and continue to sharpen, especially as you start your career journey. In Chinese culture, it is important to understand when to speak about one’s accomplishments and when listen and learn from others. Aside from simply expressing these things outwardly, being able to glimpse how another culture operates and continues to thrive may provide valuable lessons about humility and one’s place in the world.