10 Ways to Make the Most of your Internship in China

10 Ways to Make the Most of your Internship in China

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Shanghai lights


With only 2 or 3 months to gain as much as you can from this once in a lifetime overseas learning opportunity, time is of the essence.  Follow our tips to make the most of your summer internship abroad in China.


1)    Eat that stinky tofu, even if it’s only once!  

When you push yourself to your boundaries, you really figure out what you are capable of, build your confidence and experience more adventure and excitement in life!  Taking a risk doesn’t mean that it will always work out and you may find that you really quite detest that stinky tofu you were so curious to try on the street stall.  Fact is you wouldn’t have known this if you hadn’t tried it in the first place.  In turn you will learn more about yourself and in this case, discover more about Chinese cuisine along the way. In Shanghai, late night barbeque is a must. These tiny little stalls pop up around 9.30 or 10pm, and you can spot them by the steam rising under their bright lights- try either barbecued meats and vegetables or delicious stir-fry after a night out.

2)    Socialize with other interns

You are more likely to relate to other interns since you are all on the same boat as them with being new to a 9-to-5 as well as China.  Unlike your full-time colleagues who are settled and have maybe visited the Great Wall 10 times already, you are on the other hand probably just getting a feel of the working world for the first time and adjusting to life in a new city.  By bonding with other interns you are able to share many ‘firsts’ for an even more enriching experience outside of internship hours. You will also find that this helps you quickly settle into life in your new city—other interns will be excited to show you around and introduce you to that local wonton place that you wouldn’t have even noticed beforehand. Even better, live in a shared apartment with your fellow interns. Having flat-mates will allow you to settle in quicker and provides you with friends already in China to show you around.


3)    Don’t blame it on the weatherman

You’re new to the country and therefore new to the climate.  Checking the weather that day/ week can help you to plan your outfit or activities.  Summer in Shanghai for example, can be gorgeous and sunny for days, but being prepared for the showers during the rainy season can really help you to better prepare for outdoor/ indoor activities accordingly.  Shanghai and Hong Kong can also be incredibly humid in high summer, and it can feel like you are walking through maple syrup. You will quickly adapt, as well as realizing how indispensable air conditioning is. Don’t forget- temperatures in Shanghai also drop to freezing in January, with winter temperatures in Beijing dropping even further. If you’re here for an extended period of time, make sure you pack accordingly to avoid boiling in summer or freezing in winter.

4)    Keep your mobile/ social media updating to a minimum

Let’s face it—we all like a good Instagram. It can be tempting to show off your life in China to your friends from back home by keeping them posted of all your adventures abroad with hourly updates.  Although it is good to keep family/ friends aware that you are doing alright every once in a while, remaining hooked on social media sites takes you away from exploring and adventuring the amazing things in the country you are in!  In the same way, constantly talking to people in your home country may mean you are missing out on developing great friendships while in China.

5)    Sleep in less at the weekends

You’ve worked hard all week so of course it is understandable to not want to set an alarm at the weekend.  While this can be tempting, remember that you are in a new country for only a short amount of time.   So plan ahead and make the most of your weekend.  You could go around with your camera for long walks around hutongs, eat brunch with friends, plan a hike in a nearby town, or test your new language skills out at the clothes market and talk to as many locals as possible. 

6)    Indulge a LITTLE, gain a LOT!

While being an intern in a foreign country will probably mean you will be on a tight budget, don’t forget that it is okay to splurge a little sometimes. It’s not hard to live in Shanghai or Beijing on an incredibly tight budget—the metro costs 3 Yuan a journey, and a large, filling meal in a local canteen or even shopping center restaurant is easily less than 20 Yuan, with cheaper street food more than half that. However, both cities also provide plenty of places to indulge, and given that daily life can be so cheap doing so once in a while is definitely worth it. This is especially if you do not know when you will next go back to China, or if the thing you want to buy/ eat/ do is something that cannot be bought/ eaten/ done back home.  It is good to get the most of your bucks but sometimes once in a lifetime moments are just that, you won’t get that moment back again! So pay for a drink at that sky high hotel bar just to witness the incredible views and atmosphere, and buy local goods that you can’t get anywhere else.

7)    It’s all about day-to-evening wear

This will save you time and maximise your potential (going out potential that is)!  Having staple business casual clothes which you can dress up and down for day or evening wear will ultimately save you time if you have important after-work dates.  Otherwise it is always worth planning ahead and having spare clothes in the office, plus don’t forget emergency hair products, perfume/ aftershave and mints in your drawer. Shanghai and Beijing are huge cities with busy metros, and it’s far more convenient to travel straight from the office to dinner than have to go home, change and pick your things up first. 

8)    Do go for Happy Hour with your colleagues

Non-work related chats and really getting to know your colleagues after work hours can encourage better relationships with colleagues during work hours.  Make the time and effort to develop friendships with your co-workers and your internship will be even more enjoyable. It’s also a valuable opportunity to build your network internationally and discover what long term opportunities might be out there for you in China by understanding the path your colleagues took to get where they are. What’s more, your colleagues are likely to have been in the city longer than you, and can show you the best places to eat and drink.

9)    Got FOMO (Fear of Missing out)?  Good!

When you apply this to your work ethics as well as your social life, it will mean you will not miss out on funny things that happen in the office, it will encourage you to be on time, and develop good habits that are in general a positive for getting that great recommendation or report you need at the end of your internship.  Being on time shows commitment to your role and integrity, and will mean that you are given greater responsibility as they will see you as reliable and committed.

10)   ‘Sleeping beauty’ is named so for a reason

Getting enough rest the night before will enable you to work to your full potential at work the next day.  Boosting your health and mood is important for your attitude towards your internship placement as well as your performance.  Other advantages of setting your alarm earlier include better memory, clearer thinking and even stronger immunity (bit.ly/1nAQfGR).  You will thank yourself in the morning!


11) Explore China's incredible nightlife

During your time in China, exploring the incredibly varied nightlife scene is a must. Shanghai has everything there is to offer- from the exciting underground clubs of Arkham, Dada and Mansion to incredibly high end and places and mainstream mega clubs such as M1NT and M2. A city that never sleeps, you can easily party until 8 or 9am. There are also a copious amount of both Chinese and Western bars to choose from at every price level, some of which have astonishing views. In Beijing, explore the hutong bars in old alleyways and the buzzing area of Sanlitun. 


Get the most of your 24 hours as well as your internship.  Make the efforts and your internship of a lifetime will be something that stays with you much longer than when your placement is over.


Amy Wong
Marketing Officer

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