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English>>China Business

Work experience a trying business

By Shi Jing  (China Daily)

13:41, July 30, 2012

A woman asking for information about overseas internships for Chinese college students at a Beijing-based institution. There are mainly two kinds of internship available to Chinese students - volunteer work and business-related work with companies. The duration usually lasts from six weeks to one year. (Photo/China Daily)

Some students disappointed in jobs but others report rewarding times

When some college students are savoring their summer vacation at home at this time of the year, indulging themselves in online games or soap operas, some of their peers are marching into a brave new world, struggling in an unfamiliar country to build their futures.

The Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales is probably the best-known agency to organize overseas internships for Chinese college students. During its 10 years in China, AIESEC has helped 6,000 students to complete overseas internships.

There are basically two kinds of internship with us - volunteer work and business-related work with companies. The duration usually lasts from six weeks to one year.

As internships may incur some costs, AIESEC usually charges volunteer interns 2,000 yuan ($317) a person and 3,000 yuan for business-related work, said Zhang Keyan, vice-president of the marketing and communications department of the Member Committee (National Office) at AIESEC Chinese mainland.

For the volunteer work, Zhang and his colleagues usually work with NGOs to promote local healthcare and environmental protection services in less-developed areas.

As to the business-related programs, they sometimes work with AIESEC's long-time partners such as the private educational service provider New Oriental Education and Technology Group to introduce overseas interns coming into China.

The students with AIESEC experiences are always given positive comments by their former employers. For example, AIESEC has frequently heard such comments from the world-leading food manufacturer Mars Inc, its long-time partner, saying that interns or employees with AIESEC experience are always armed with the necessary skills and leadership ability and usually seeing the world with an international vision, Zhang said.

Zhang benefited from AIESEC. Still a college student majoring in communications at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, He is now taking a year off from his studies to fully concentrate on his current job with AIESEC.

"I know it may sound a little bit emotional to some people but I did not make this decision hastily. I was thinking of starting up my own business upon graduation so experience with AIESEC will help me a lot in my future career," Zhang said.

Zhang was once in India for two weeks on a volunteer program with AIESEC. The short trip helped to test the knowledge he learned at school. It also helped Zhang to understand the differences between nations. People will have a bigger heart if they see more of the outside world, he added.

According to a recent online survey involving 498 interviewees conducted by the Shanghai-headquartered private education company EF Education, about 61 percent of young people under the age of 28 have experienced studying or interning overseas, a quarter of whom are from first-tier Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

A growing number of young people hoping to broaden their horizons with overseas experience turn to agencies for help. About 18.1 percent of the interviewees opted for programs involved in cooperative deals with educational agencies and public schools, with those interviewed in Beijing showing the highest preference for such programs.

A total of 13.3 percent of the interviewees in Beijing chose this method to go abroad.

International internship programs have been very beneficial for our team. We learned how to teach and train our new members. Program participants have brought many creative ideas and concepts to us. This really improved our company's international strategic plans, said Li Dong, a senior manager at Shanghai Advertising Co, which is seeking long-term cooperation with Shanghai Foreign Service Co International Training Center for overseas internship programs.

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