I have a passion to travel around the world, experience diverse cultures, work in different environments, visit heritage sites, try new dishes and learn new languages. I often read articles on the growth of China as a country and its economy. I realised that China was the ideal place to face this challenge.
I wanted to network with people from businesses and organisations within the renewable energy industry. I was also keen to connect with other interns from around the world.
I was given the opportunity to work for a green technology firm, New Energy Nexus in Shanghai, China. New Energy Nexus is a program who focus on accelerating energy start-ups. The program consists of a network of accelerators, start-ups, companies and investors.
During my placement, I wanted to learn more about the renewable energy industry and China’s concerns towards the sector. At the same time, I wanted to understand the management and marketing sides of a business. I was keen and open to learn new skills and techniques.
I was given responsibility of numerous projects which involve research, presenting, project planning, events planning, content management, creative writing, website development, graphic design and marketing. Each day, it was my responsibility to meet deadlines and present the completed work in a professional manner. I attended regular meetings and pitched new findings and ideas. I had carried out regular research which allowed me to improve my knowledge and understanding of the renewable energy industry.
I had an amazing supervisor, Andrew, who allowed me to be more independent with my work, identify my strengths and weaknesses and improve on areas where needed.
Travelling to and from work was different! I would usually drive in the UK, whereas in China many people either walk, cycle or take the subway. My journey to work would usually take an hour and ten minutes (sometimes more). It would involve a twenty-minute walk to the subway station, forty minutes on the subway with numerous stops and a ten-minute walk from the subway station to the office. At peak times, the subway was always full of people. The journey can be tiring with the humidity and heat. I would often turn up to work with sweaty clothes. I couldn’t complain – It was part of the joy of experiencing the Chinese lifestyle!
The language barrier was a huge battle. Google translator was a life saver! I attended Mandarin lessons whilst in China and practised by greeting, ordering food and asking for the price. Luckily, I worked in an international office where everyone spoke English. This challenge wasn’t too bad!
The food was very different, especially when finding breakfast. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was the same. A popular Chinese breakfast was porridge but this was no ordinary porridge. Chinese porridge is a mixture of broken rice, soup and vegetables. It was available in different meats. I found it difficult to have a heavy breakfast which included rice or noodles. Instead, I bought fresh fruits and yoghurt. This was a great alternative to start my morning.
During the weekend, I wanted to travel beyond Shanghai. I travelled to a historic scenic town called Wuzhen. Wuzhen is part of Tongxiang, located in northern Zhejiang province. This was a two-hour car journey from Shanghai. Wuzhen is also known as a water town, with very few people and nobody who spoke English. I had no choice but to put my Mandarin to the test!
Two months was not enough! I wanted to stay longer! I was left inspired by culture, motivated by work and addicted to travelling.
The CRCC Asia China programme has given me a positive impact on my professional and personal development. I have a positive view of China and an interest to return. I have made life- long friends and new connections. I have visited many places and learnt a new language. This was an experience that I cannot forget and would highly recommend to anyone.