Now that you’ve decided to embark on a China internship, choosing the right destination comes next: although China’s two largest and most prestigious mainland cities rarely fail to dazzle their visitors, there are a number of factors to consider before you decide whether to intern in Shanghai or intern in Beijing.
Rivalry and Respect
Much is made of the healthy rivalry that exists between China’s two powerhouse cities. If you intern in Beijing you’ll regularly hear your Chinese friends and colleagues extol the virtues of their capital city: it is China’s political and cultural heart and contains an abundance of exemplary Chinese architecture, art and tradition. As a Shanghai intern, you’ll be welcomed into the city known as China’s commercial powerhouse, famed for its modern, multi-cultural outlook, its cleanliness and its sophistication.
These diverse factors certainly make a difference to the overall atmosphere and experience of each city: for instance, the pace of life in Shanghai tends to be very fast and doing business can be absolutely cut-throat, but at the same time the city feels slightly less chaotic than Beijing due to its clean, well-planned streets and organised traffic system. Beijing is a city of greater contrasts: you’ll find old, dilapidated Hutongs and traditional courtyard style homes nestled beside vast modern office complexes in the space of a few blocks, and five star restaurants compete with back street dumpling sellers.
If one of your aims while in China is to get to grips with the language, it’s worth bearing in mind that many Shanghai residents speak their own local dialect, known as Shanghainese (although the vast majority can also speak Mandarin Chinese). For keen linguists this can provide a fascinating insight into huge diversity of accents, dialects and regional variations in the Chinese language. However, it is the Beijing dialect that is considered to be the ‘text-book’ manner of speaking Mandarin, and a Beijing accent and speaking style will be understood and respected throughout the country. However, whether you intern in Shanghai or Beijing you’ll receive Mandarin lessons as part of your internship from top quality teachers.
Range of Internships Available
In both Beijing and Shanghai, CRCCAsia is able to offer internships in almost every sector and with every kind of employer, from NGOs to multi-national corporate firms; so whether you choose to intern in Beijing or intern in Shanghai your experience will be highly beneficial.But you may wish to consider, for example, that Shanghai has become a magnet for offshore banks and other commercial institutions so, if your heart is set in a career in finance you may find it beneficial simply to be immersed in the atmosphere of a city in a constant state of commercial boom. Beijing, on the other hand, is the seat of government and Beijing interns with political interests can get a lot out of visiting the many political institutions and museums in the capital.
In a Nutshell…
As an intern’s destination, China has it all: fascinating history and culture to explore, a huge range of industries to intern in, a plethora of social and networking opportunities, and a booming economy. Whether you choose to intern in Shanghai or in Beijing it’s difficult not to be dazzled by your China experience, but the above advice should help you to select the city you’ll get the most from.