“The programme has given me lifelong experience, new friends and quality work experience to add to my CV – this will set me apart from my university cohort.”
Like any internship, I hoped to gain experience working within a professional financial environment. However through the CRCC Asia Generation UK-China programme, I knew that I would be exposed to so much more than a placement at home, as not only would I gain valuable workplace experience, but experience a business culture beyond what could be found in the UK. Moreover, I was excited by the prospect of day-to-day living in China, a country that that carries historic intrigue, cultural significance and has grown to become one of the modern world’s economic powerhouses; all elements which created an interest in the country for me.
My application to Shanghai was successful, my flights were booked and I was away.
Supported by the ‘on the ground staff’, I quickly settled into my new accommodation (with a 30th floor view overlooking the Huangpu River, not so bad) and set about trying to learn how to navigate the city; which turned out to be easy between the metro, taxi and of course, bike sharing!
The first weekend set the precedent as to how communicating with local people from day-to-day would be and so I learnt some emergency mandarin including 这个请, 多少 and 啤酒.
Arriving at work the first day I was greeted by my manager who welcomed me to the company, a small bespoke investment bank called Evotech, and I soon set about my tasks. My role within the company mainly involved producing industry reports to provide insights into various sectors that the firm would be investing in, not only helping inform my company but I personally gained knowledge on these industries and how firms operated within their respective sector. For example, one of the industries I researched was the FinTech sector in China, in particular Peer-2-Peer lending, a growing means of financing for individuals and small businesses, and mobile payments. In metropolitan China, cash is becoming ever more obsolete as mobile transactions are becoming the new norm. I can vouch for this as I set up a Chinese bank account in my first week and started uploading my money to China’s most popular payment apps: WeChat and Aliplay. In doing so I unlocked a whole new level of access in Shanghai from easy purchasing, food delivery, bike sharing, ordering a DiDi (China’s Uber) and more!
I was not limited to exploring Shanghai, the CRCC Asia programme empowered students with the freedom and opportunity to travel where they could fit it in. For myself, I was able to spend my birthday weekend in Beijing. I had been told that no two Chinese cities are alike and now I have the experience to say I agree. In Beijing, while still one China’s largest cities you can find more of the old China – the temples, the story’s and the monuments left behind by former Emperors and Empresses. And see the mark of the current government of China.
Also, I had the opportunity to travel to Shandong province and visit Confucius’s tomb, climb Mount Tai and visit several smaller cities. It was very much a cultural trip exploring sites and viewing customs that, in some cases, have existed for over 1500 years.
Back in Shanghai, I was never bored. After work I would always be catching up with fellow interns over hotpot, attending CRCC Asia’s China Business Seminars which provided the opportunity to network and meet potential contacts, or taking in the view at the Bund. The impression left about China, and Shanghai in particular, is that it is a city of opportunity across all sectors.
The programme has given me lifelong experience, new friends and quality work experience on my CV to set me apart from my university cohort. That work experience should come in handy for securing a job when I return to Shanghai after completing my degree!