Kai Wei with the other interns and mentors in Shenzhen, China.
“What if I have forgotten all my Chinese vocabulary? What if I cannot converse with my boss there?”
If you have such of the above concerns, fret not! Kai Wei, a Year 2 NUS business student, too, was rusty with his Chinese language back then but still aced his internship! Want to learn the trick? Read on!
Language barrier? Nah, not a big deal
Start-up companies recommended by AIESEC would have already undergone the necessary filtering to ensure their projects are suitable for the majority of their customers. Most start-up opportunities take in interns from all over the globe, with the main conversational language being English. Don’t believe me? Lets hear from Kai Wei himself:
“My team of interns was a really good mix of people from East and West! Besides me who came from Singapore, there were people from Taiwan, Korea, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, and Slovakia. A German intern also joined the team a few weeks in. Everyone was fluent in English, so we other than some accents being harder to understand, we had little issues communicating beyond. “
Actually, there is no trick to improving your mother tongue (oops! 😏). In fact, you probably won’t even need to use much of it since they are all English speaking. As long as you can speak fluent English, you will have no problem in communicating with your colleagues! (But if you would want to challenge yourself, then by all means, have a go with the Chinese locals there!)
Kai Wei’s roles and responsibility as an intern
Let’s now delve more into the tasks that Kai Wei was managing for his 7 weeks of internship. He was posted to Huaqiangbei, the heart of Shenzhen’s electronics industry, where he worked for a start-up specialising in innovating instruments for smartphone repairs. He found the internship very enjoyable and described it to be “not just a typical internship – it was a life-changing experience”.
Lets take a look at why he said that.
# 1: Approachable and supportive colleagues
Kai Wei was greeted with very welcoming full-timers and an uplifting working culture. They placed much emphasis on employee welfare – for instance there was a weekly ‘tea time’ which they would meet new members from different departments while they were treated to good food and simply put, it was to give everyone a short break from work.
Not only that, Kai Wei realised working under a start-up meant a greater allowance of flexibility given by his managers. For all you potential candidates who want to try something more than what was assigned, read carefully.
“I was not satisfied as I really wanted to do something related to my major in business analytics. Thankfully, my manager was supportive. After discussing some projects I had in mind, he agreed to support me in doing them! It made my work experience so much more fulfilling, and also allowed me to add more value to the company.”
So there you have it, the golden rule of ‘ask and you will be given’ indeed holds!
# 2: Company visits and city-walks
Besides working in a start-up, Kai Wei and the group of interns also had the opportunity to visit two other start-ups within Shenzhen’s growing technology-based sector, where he was amazed by the boost of creativity of their work. He also had the chance to participate in a City-Walk tour to Foshan and Guangzhou, where they toured famous places guided by the locals.
“It was a really good way to explore the cities, while making friends with locals who were knowledgeable and friendly. We even stayed over in a rented apartment with them, and had lots of fun conversations, among other escapades like exterminating cockroaches and enjoying wine!”
To wrap everything up, Kai Wei was very thankful to have been given chance to work in an international start up, and was glad to have taken that the leap of faith to embark on an AIESEC experience, shaping him to become a more socially and culturally adept person. So if you are inspired by his story, click here aiesec.org.sg/iminterested to secure a spot in one of our Global Entrepreneur opportunities!
Kai Wei and some of the other interns having fun exploring the country!