I found out about the CRCC Asia Internship Program through an email I received via my university’s careers department. Usually I’d scroll through or delete these emails, however upon further reading I realised that this was an opportunity not to be missed – working and living in China! Understanding that in an increasingly competitive graduate job market it is important to stand out from the crowd I knew that this would provide me with the chance to do just that.
After the application, interview and liaising with the helpful CRCC staff, I was ready to depart from Dublin airport. It was extremely nerve-racking having never done anything like this before but after meeting a fellow intern in the airport we boarded our flight to Hong Kong via Dubai. The geek in me also enjoyed flying on the A380 for the first time (China was full of first-experiences!). After landing in Hong Kong airport, we met other students who had arrived on the flight from Frankfurt and took the ferry to Shekou Port, Shenzhen where we were greeted by CRCC staff.
After a few days of settling into the excellent accommodation and having the obligatory induction day, meals and nights out (Chinese nightlife is crazy!) where all the interns got to know each other very well, it was time to start our first week of work in Shenzhen. On the first day the excitement and nerves on the minibus was palpable as we all got dropped off at our companies to meet our managers. However, I and another Irish intern soon got used to our surroundings in iSoftStone. The staff in my office were more than friendly – many of whom had never met someone from outside China before. They were very interested in my background and why I would want to come to their country of all places. A major part of the CRCC Asia internship is the exchange of cultural knowledge, something I threw myself into with the staff at my company.
iSoftStone are an IT company with offices spread throughout Asia, mainly in China. The Shenzhen offices were in a modern business park, easily accessible via the shiny new Shenzhen Metro network and surrounded by many other technology companies. The work involved various tasks from programming on a large-scale project that was in progress when I began through to testing and attending various meetings with managers and fellow staff. The working day was slightly longer than I was used to back home but this was broken up by a long lunch break which included around a one hour sleep! I’ll never forget the shock I experienced on the first day when, after having finished their lunch, staff pulled camp beds and blankets from under their desks the office fell silent. Just one of the many unusual quirks of living and working in China.
I had never heard of Shenzhen before applying for the CRCC Asia internship (surprising given it has a population upwards of 10,000,000 people!) – I had actually initially applied for Shanghai. However, after being told I was to be based there I read up information about the city and I could not wait to arrive. It is, by far, the largest and most interesting city I have set foot in. The nightlife, recreational areas, transport, cityscape and close proximity to Hong Kong made the two month internship very interesting and exciting. When I go back to China I definitely plan on staying or working there.
Whilst in Shenzhen I made many friends who live throughout the world – people I would not have had the chance to meet had I not taken part in the internship. I am in regular contact with my colleagues and friends based in China through WeChat (a Chinese version of WhatsApp) and in the months after coming home from China, the group I was living with have had reunions in Ireland, the UK and more recently we completed a small tour of Italy.
The CRCC Asia experience in Shenzhen has definitely been the most valued thing I have taken part in. One of the main advantages of the internship is that it makes me stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs – for most employers it is the most intriguing part of my CV. It has provided me with a great professional and social experience unrivalled by any other programme and I would recommend it to anyone.