Foreign students flock to China for internship

Updated: 2011-06-21 16:16

By Li Aoxue and Liu Xiaozhuo (

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

BEIJING – An increasing number of foreign students are coming to China for internship to build up their credentials for future hunt for jobs.

Thanks to his six-month internship in China, Luke Saunders from the United States, made it into the Boeing US-China Bilateral Trade Internship Program in Washington, D.C.

What the interns say:
Foreign students flock to China for internship Sabine May: In China anything is possible
Foreign students flock to China for internship Tahsin Kadry: Beijing is my home
Foreign students flock to China for internship Christopher Kausch: China, the next great leap forward for interns

"The internship helped my resume a lot," the 25-year-old graduate who has a degree in International Studies and a minor in Chinese told China Daily. "The employer sees my experience in China and asks me to join the program."

During internship, Saunders worked at a Shanghai trade company which helps foreign firms, especially African ones, do business in China, engaging in marketing, preparing proposals for potential customers, and attending social networking events.

"My communication skills got improved during this period of time and I have also learned a lot from the business field", Saunders said.

He took on the internship after finishing an intensive language class at Capital Normal University in Beijing. Before coming to China, he had taken Chinese lessons for several years in the US, as well as multiple courses on Chinese literature, culture, politics and business.

"My interest in China has always been strong and I would like to know more about China by working here", Saunders told China Daily.

Saunders is among an increasing number of foreign graduates who found internship through Uoutlook Education Company.

"The application for internship here is increasing recent years, as US economic outlook is gloomy and more American companies are looking to the Chinese market," said Fu Qiang, its program director.

Having a working experience in China is a very competitive advantage for western students to find a job in their home country."

Beijing-based Mei Hua Hong Lian, the Chinese branch of American educational company Go Abroad China Foundation, is also part of this business, among three to four such firms in the Chinese capital.

Its general manager, Feng Zhaozhao who studied in the United States, said his company wanted to open a passageway connecting Chinese companies and foreign graduates seeking Chinese internship.

"Hiring foreign interns is a good choice for most Chinese companies," Feng said, explaining that the cost is lower than hiring foreign staff and those foreigners can help improve the English-language skills of the Chinese employees.

International Business Exchange, a human resource service company operating in coastal cities of Qingdao, Shandong Province, and Zhuhai, Guangdong Province recruits European and American interns, providing them job opportunities in China.

Found in 2007 by Frank Lenhardt from Germany, the company helps about 150 to 180 European and Americans each year to find internship in the Middle Kingdom, said Lenhardt.

His company has introduced more than 600 foreign graduates to some 200 companies in almost 25 industries since its founding, according to him.

Talking about the reason to operate in coastal cities rather than Beijing and Shanghai, he explained that foreign interns need to know more about China which can be best represented by coastal cities, not metropolis.

Lenhardt said he plans to open an office in Xiamen, Fujian Province next year.

While aiding foreign students’job hunting back in their home country, internship in China has helped some find jobs in China.

Rory McBrid from the United States landed on a job of American project manager at Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company after working three months as an assistant of an Fudan University professor who runs a program helping Chinese students find universities in the US.

The 3-month experience helped McBrid, majored in international relations and economics better understand business development, which he could learn little from his classroom.

"My internship is a very constructive learning experience. It does not directly apply to my new job, but helps me to understand the Chinese business environment," said he.

Besides overseas graduates, more and more Chinese companies are finding benefits in foreign internship and are extending warms arms to them.

Shanghai LiKang Disinfectant Hi-tech Company, Ltd currently has two foreign interns. Huang Chunming, its marketing and strategies director wants more.

"I would like to see new foreign interns coming to my company as they are of low cost and have a more serious attitude toward work", Huang said.

Sun Jiafeng, partner of Shanghai Hongtai Law Office, said foreign interns worked even harder than their Chinese.

"Some of the foreign intern paid a lot for this internship experience, having to pay for their international air tickets and accommodation in China. They therefore treasure this opportunity and try to learn as many things as possible", Sun told China Daily.

However, some foreign interns may find themselves unfit for their planned internship due to cultural differences.

Yu Hao, director of Chinese Association for Science and Technology California Chapter at Los Angeles, said the Exchange Student Summer Internship program did not go well in recent years.

"Students’ expectation about their placement in China is different from what they actually do after they arrive China, some may not cooperate well as different cultures exist", Yu told China Daily.

For example, one US student finished her internship of teaching Chinese students English one month ahead of original schedule, Yu said.

"While the students’ parents said their kids learned nothing from her, her intention is to cultivate students’ interests in learning English."


My China story

Foreign readers are invited to share your China stories.


Though Elisabeth Koch did not attend the Aprilweddingof Prince William and Kate Middleton in London, her tailor-made hats might have.

Mom’s the word

Italian expat struggles with learning English and experiences the joys of motherhood again.

Suzhou: Heaven on Earth
The sky's the limit
Diving into history