Balancing a Successful Internship in China... Without Going Crazy

Balancing a Successful Internship in China... Without Going Crazy

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Internship in China

internship in China

When you are on a full time internship alongside learning Chinese, you will of course want to explore and enjoy your time in the magnificent city you are briefly living in too. The internship-life balance is not easy to achieve but there are ways how you can work hard and play hard in China, without going crazy.


To the procrastinators

Sometimes as an intern, you may feel as if your work is not fully appreciated by your placement company or that it isn't valuable because of your short-term stay. There are those who will start to take slacking off as an easy way out as it doesn't feel like you're benefiting from the internship and that they're not benefiting from you.

Although you are interning abroad, keep in mind that China is like any other country; employers will not tolerate anything that compromises the quality of their work. Furthermore, remember that you're there to gain experience as well- talk to other people in the office, look for different work, and try and make the most of your time there!


​How to avoid procrastination?internship in China

1) Think of your future

Your duty as an intern is to perform to the best of your ability in good time and form.  This is especially important if you want a letter of recommendation at the end of your placement. 

Internships are supposed to give you a kick-start into the rest of your career and you don't want to start on the wrong foot.  

The Chinese business world is aggressive due to a combination of factors - deeply embedded Confucian principles, the influence of the present day government, and a strong, business-oriented mentality.

As an intern in China, you will discover how this society does business.  More importantly, you will learn how to incorporate what you learn into your own professional skills, so it’s worth paying attention to keep on top of the game.


2) Make lists

According to Forbes columnist Susan Adams, in her article “How to stop procrastinating?” it's best to:

  • Keep a to-do list, and update it frequently
  • Prioritize: tackling the most urgent matters first

While not everyone is a 'list-making' person, just try your best to make it a habit.  You will quickly learn that the sooner you get things done, the sooner you’ll stop worrying about them.  Procrastinating consumes both time and energy that could be better spent! Work efficiently so that you can enjoy your free time. Also remember to set goals and keep a track of them so that all of your actions will lead you to meeting your targets.


interns in China

To the workaholics

So on one extreme, you have the procrastinators and on the other side, you have the workaholics, those who don’t know when to stop to take a breather.

Weekends seem to be just an extension of the working week for workaholics. In some cases it can be justified, but in the long term, this kind of attitude can be seen as an obsession with their jobnot a healthy lifestyle to lead.

Signs of a workaholic:

  • You’re talking business during social events
  • You regularly have to leave appointments to deal with ‘emergency meetings
  • You’re spending too many hours in the office beyond your regular working hours

How to not overwork


1) Take regular breaks

It is important to remember that 'long working hours' and 'productivity' are not synonymous. In fact, they might even contradict each other. If you’re spending a lot of time on simple tasks, then you could be seen as inefficient. 

There is a reason why these people are known notoriously as “workaholics”. (If you still don’t get it, workaholics are to work what alcoholics are to alcoholism.)  Keep in mind that although some Chinese business places might encourage this sort of behaviour, even the Chinese take occasional breaks, and consider lunch breaks as a very important part of the business day.  Don't forget that you're in a brand new, exciting city- take time to explore it and meet new people!


2) When you're not working, relax

Working in moderation requires effort, because it represents a drastic change in habits as you fill up times of non-work with other things. Tammy Strobel writes on that to turn a workaholic's boat around you should:

  • Spend more time in nature (take nice strolls and do things that relax you),
  • Find a hobby that can replace the void filled by excessive working.  
  • Set very clear boundaries (work is only for working hours),
  • Get enough sleep (better yet, unplug all communication devices before going to sleep)



Organisation is the key an internship in China

As any Feng Shui master would preach, finding balance and symmetry is essential in order to attain prosperity in life.  So how can you achieve a proper balance between work and fun?

Avoiding the extremes is not enough.  If you really want to see a difference in your life, you must relearn the way you organize your life. Include work performance and meaningful activities as your top priorities and designate the correct amount of time to them.

​Keep a schedule to organize your day clearly, and make adjustments if you notice imbalances in the attention you devote to each respective task.

Remember that China is a place where people emphasize the importance of finding inner peace.  Once you find it, it's for certain that your life and your internship will make a turn for the better.


By José de la Luz Sáenz Garza and Amy Wong

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