In addition to our internships, we all have Chinese class once a week, as well as our internship seminar course. Our internship seminar course is a two-and-a-half hour class, which meets Thursday nights after we arrive home from our respective internships. After a long day at work, everyone from the program gathers to address issues in the workplace, as well as our individual intern experiences and how they may be similar and/or different to previous internships in the States or elsewhere. Although having class after a full day of work isn’t ideal, this time gives us the ability to hear about each other’s experiences and how these occurrences relate to our companies, fields of study, fields of work, Chinese culture, and more.
Some of the topics we address include, but are not limited to, time management, conflict resolution, the boss-employee relationship, communication, and other key transferable skills and knowledge that’s important to comprehend for any job or internship. We have also been discussing the differences between Eastern and Western culture, sales/marketing jobs compared to research/design jobs, start-up companies versus multinational companies, and lastly “soft” product sales as opposed to “hard” product sales.
There are definitely many differences that we’ve identified between Eastern and Western business culture. However, I’m learning to navigate and understand those differences each day, trying to look at the motives behind Chinese business culture from a native perspective, instead of from a Westerner’s point of view.
Some of the key differences that we’ve discussed in class are:
- Achievement/Birthright – attitudes towards status
- Universalism/Particularism – attitudes towards authority
- Relationship/Task – attitudes towards accomplishing goals
- Individualism/Collectivism – attitudes towards collaboration and reward
- Short-term/Long-term – attitudes towards time
- Indirectness/Directness – attitudes towards explicitness in communication
- Expressive/Neutral – how much emotion is conveyed
- Schedule/Flow – how time is perceived and organized
These eight categories have helped us better understand our interactions at work and why Chinese culture may lean more to one side of the spectrum, while Western culture may lean more towards the other side. We not only discuss the extent to which each culture highlights these particular tenets, but also how to negotiate our own personal values with Chinese cultural values and how to be a successful intern in a foreign environment.
There are a variety of different internship placements on our program, which provides a range of diversity when comparing opinions and internship experiences. Kids on my program are working at non-profits, music companies, financial technology companies, schools, engineering companies, and more. Each person has different assignments and relationships with their coworkers and bosses; each company has varying leadership styles and expectations for their interns. This mixture makes for a dynamic discussion-based class to end the workweek, giving us a new outlook on our internship for the upcoming week with advice for how to make the most out of the upcoming week if needed.
My Chinese class is a continuation of class from the first two weeks of our intensive language study. However, our Friday class is only three-and-a-half hours, once a week, instead of six-and-a-half hours per day, four days a week! The structure of the class is similar to the first two weeks; we work on translating lesson dialogues regarding relevant topics such as upcoming festivals, the environment, the government, education and the Chinese college entrance exam, Chinese history, and more. We’ve also learned popular Chinese songs, played games, debated, and more, in order to use the new vocabulary and grammar structures from our lessons and practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
As I’ve mentioned before, part of my reason for interning in China was not only to get experience in a job setting, but also to continue studying Chinese and learn relevant terms in hopes of becoming business proficient at some point. Although most of the conversations I have at work with my boss, supervisor, and coworkers are in English, I love eating lunch with my coworkers so I can pester them with questions about why they’re working in Shanghai, how they started at MindSpan, and what they do for the company, and more, in order to practice my Chinese! I’m grateful that my coworkers are willing to talk with me and be patient when I say something they can’t understand or they say something I can’t understand.
Although my summer program is flying by and I’ll be headed back to the States in about three weeks, I’m excited to continue learning through my internship, internship course, and Chinese class and hope that I can practice my Chinese as much as possible during the time I have left here, before I have to go back to hearing English every where I go and understanding what everyone’s saying around me… what a weird concept! But for now, I’m enjoying being enveloped by Chinese and trying to cherish my time here as much as possible, as my mom always reminds me!
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<p>Ever since I was a child, my life has always been linked to helping other people. I founded Kids Helping Kids when I was in sixth grade after I was in a serious car accident. While in the hospital, I heavily relied on the support of my friends and family as I had recovered. As I reflected on my accident and the serious injuries I had suffered, I saw the incredible power that I was shown as everyone came together to help me heal. The idea to start KHK was inspired by the small acts of kindness I witnessed from so many. I was so moved by the generosity of my peers that I wanted to harness that energy and share it with others, who may not have the same access to support. Kids Helping Kids has changed the way I view the world and others around me. I love volunteering because of the experiences and lessons I gain. It has shown me the power I have to make a difference in another person's life, and the impact that the people we serve have on my life.</p>