Laura Coughlin - General Business Projects in China
I had always dreamt of travelling after university. But straight out of graduation and a fresh degree in hand, I was worried that a backpacker holiday would be a step back when kick starting my career. Projects Abroad offered me the solution, immersing myself in an entirely new culture whilst gaining invaluable work experience.
Shanghai was a distant land in my mind, where buildings resembled space ships, the night sky was lit up by billboards and dog was on the menu. But Shanghai exceeded every expectation I had. Futuristic buildings stand alongside historic mansions. Food can be eaten in delicious street stalls or 5 star internationally renowned restaurants.Streets are safe, the people are warm and docile (except when behind the wheel of a car!) and I'm yet to find canine cuisine.
Many of the top companies in the world have an office here and grabbing my chance I opted for an internship. Projects abroad made this possible. I was met at the airport, introduced to the China Projects Abroad team welcomed and treated to lunch all within my first few hours of arriving. In a city so daunting, I immediately had an apartment with awesome housemates and a new group of friends all doing different internships in the city.
We explored Shanghai together, finding our favourite restaurants, bars and markets etc, whilst during the week we headed to work. I was fortunate enough to get a placement with Shui On Land, a property development company who build incredible complexes in China. Their most famous is an area in Shanghai called Xintiandi.It's an area of renovated old 'shikumen' style houses that have been turned into beautiful boutique stores, international restaurants and a 5 star hotel.
Whilst on my placement, the other interns and I were given many responsibilities including, organising and executing the press opening of the new spa within the hotel. This was one of our earlier tasks, and we were trusted enough to do a good job. We also conducted both primary and secondary research regarding large new, multi-million pound developments in China, whilst also being allowed to sit in on important management meetings. I would have never expected that I would be given as much responsibility as I had and it showed how valued we were within the company.
To say I love Shanghai is a colossal understatement. The opportunity for a great career is obvious. I was meant to be in Shanghai for 3 months. I thought I had finished with my studies. I thought I'd be in London now hitting a 9-5pm job. It's been over a year and I'm at the Shanghai University studying Chinese, with a job offer at the same company I interned at. What does that tell you about my 'Projects Abroad' experience?
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Programme Advisors.