Student Experience- Advice from interning in Shanghai, China

August 15th, 2011 - No Comments

Hortense Fong gives fellow students advice on interning abroad based on her experiences on internship with Goodyear in Shanghai, China.

My internship has taught me a lot, but I have also learned a good bit outside of work. The first thing I learned was how to find an apartment. Before arriving in China, Goodyear provided me with some websites about renting shared apartments. I learned quickly that the turnover rate for shared apartments is very high in Shanghai. It took me nearly a week to find a suitable apartment, but the apartment I ended up with is fantastic. It’s large, clean, and my flatmate is a lot of fun. The second thing I learned, or rather confirmed, was that Shanghai is a great place to meet new people and network. Everyone here is looking to meet new people-expats because the area is new to them too and locals because they are curious about foreigners. One concept that nearly everyone here is familiar with is the idea of guanxi, or the power of relationships. Knowing the right people in China can take you a long way, for better or for worse. It is a concept that all my professors brought up when I studied in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Finally, for those who are considering interning in China, I learned last year that bringing tissue paper and hand sanitizer everywhere is a good idea. Be prepared to use a squatty toilet as well.

My two greatest pieces of advice would be to: try new things and travel. Eat duck, cow intestine, or maybe shark fin. Bargain to a tenth of the asking price. Have clothes custom made for less than the cost to normally buy them. Go clubbing with the locals. Squeeze onto a crowded subway during rush hour. Learn Chinese. All of my coworkers that have been taking Chinese classes have learned remarkably quickly. It has made communicating with locals much easier for them and the locals are impressed. Next, it’s important to travel. As my coworker once said, “Why do you make money? To see the world.” Between last summer and this summer, I have visited Dalian, Qindgao, Hangzhou, and Suzhou and I will be traveling to Hong Kong soon. In Dalian, I met Russians who looked oriental. I had no idea that there would be Russian influence in Dalian (since it’s nowhere close to Russia). Because of Hangzhou, I now have a very good idea of where silk comes from. Every new place I go, I learn more and more.

Here are some pictures from my experiences.  The first is a picture of me at one of Goodyear’s tire retail stores. It was fairly close to our office building. The second is of the Pearl Tower in Shanghai. And the third is of a Penn State flag in a restaurant opened by a PSU graduate who is now living in Shanghai.

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