In search of fruitful internships in China

Updated: 2016-08-20 01:04

By YU RAN in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Unlike some of his peers who were eager to secure internships with major corporations, Lane Russell was more interested in learning the ropes at small and medium-sized enterprises instead as he believed that such companies would allow him to take on greater responsibilities and work more closely with the senior staff.

That was the main reason why the 20-year-old Princeton University undergraduate decided to intern at a small financial company called A Street Investments in the United States last year, and at China Market Research Group in Shanghai this year.

"The smaller companies have a more personal feel, and they are easier to thoroughly understand. Getting to know the directors and learning from their expertise has been the highlight of my experience," said Russell, who is majoring in economics and will enter his third year of studies in September.

"Also, the experience with an SME is just as relevant in terms of work content as a larger firm, because we do the same type of work."

During his eight-week internship with China Market Research Group, a strategic market intelligence firm, Russell worked as an associate consultant and was tasked with analyzing market data and offering insights to clients.

"I got the chance to work on documents that were presented to clients and had learnt from the company founder how to be professional during consultancy sessions and in conducting myself in the Chinese business world," added Russell.

"Only in an SME is it possible to have a close relationship with the bosses and the management at the company," said Russell, who studied Mandarin for two years and is planning to return to China to understand Chinese business culture further.

China Market Research Group, which has around 20 fulltime staff, normally hires three to four interns every year, most of them from top US universities like Princeton and Harvard.

Shaun Rein, the founder and managing director of China Market Research Group, said that interns from abroad often provide the company with different perspectives that can lead to the creation of better market strategies for clients.

Another person who shares the same sentiment as Russell is Joyce Wang. The 19-year-old Chinese American student at Williams College had chosen to do her first internship at a startup company called Sogu Tech in Shanghai.

As she is currently doing a double major in computer science and economics, Sogu Tech, which deals with technology and finance, seemed like the perfect fit.

During her internship, Wang was assigned to create the front-end aspect of a website and got to learn much about basic machine learning principles and Java web application development.

"Interning at a smaller company entails the assignment of more responsibility and hands-on work that involves a little bit of everything. I came in with little to no practical programming experience and now know how to build websites, albeit fairly basic ones," said Wang.

"After coming to Sogu and talking to my peers, I realized how the computer science taught at school is based mostly on theory and how there's little being taught about practical programming skills. As such, I'm really grateful to have had this opportunity and gain early-on a competitive advantage for future internships."