Resilience, skills and employability through the ‘China experience’

For anyone looking to enrich their university education and gain a unique set of skills and experiences, China is definitely a place to visit.

China’s global education and economic influence is still continuing; it dominates the list of leading universities in the developing world, and it’s strategic importance for UK companies is well illustrated with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative; launched by the Chinese president in 2013, it sets out to improve and create new trade routes, links and business opportunities between China and over 60 countries across Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa. As the report highlights, the ‘potential exists for powerful partnerships between British and Chinese companies.’

With a wide range of study and work experience programmes, China has become more accessible for today’s students and graduates. And the good news is that steps have been taken to provide opportunities for students who may not ordinarily consider going to the country.

One initiative has been the British Council Generation UK – China programme. Backed by the government, it aims to develop the global employability and prospects of UK students through funded internships and academic scholarships. By 2020, the hope is that 80,000 students will have benefited from the programme. The British Council have been working in partnership with a number of internship providers, one being InternChina.

Right now, the programme is being promoted across the UK, and this week, I attended a presentation where a couple of UCLan students spoke about their internships. What became apparent was how exposure to this fascinating culture, language and business world enabled students to gain some amazing skills and insights. Resilience, adaptability and cultural awareness were key themes, and all very much what graduate recruiters are looking for in today’s changing world of work.

Coral Simpson, a Business Management in China student, spent her year abroad working as a Marketing & Sales Intern in InternChina’s Zhuhai office, involved in a range of promotional and design activities. What struck me is her experience of seeing first hand the cultural differences, in particular the Chinese concept of Guanxi, which is about networking, and also the value given to the use of business cards. Knowing about these differences is vital in becoming a global graduate and working cross-culturally, whether in the UK or abroad. You can hear more about Coral’s experiences here on this video and also read on the InternChina blog.

Ross Simmons, a Law student, undertook an internship for a domestic law firm in Chengdu.

“During my two months in Chengdu, I provided research and advice on outbound transactions for a domestic Chinese law firm who had a roster of internationally focused clients. I also conducted weekly seminars for lawyers on legal issues in the UK; for example, the role of judicial review in respect of legal challenges to the recent EU referendum decision.

As a British Council Generation UK funding beneficiary, I was invited to attend a VIP meeting with Sir Martin Donnelly KCB CMG, where I was invited to give my opinion on how outward mobility benefits students like myself and the role it plays in bringing the UK and China closer together.

It took a lot for me to take the leap to China given that I had never travelled further than two time zones until now. The opportunity has tested my resilience when in a situation of adversity, and this is a quality that I can explain to prospective employers that makes me stand out from the crowd. I now have that international dimension that employers value in a time where globalisation is at its height.”

Thanks to Ross for sharing his story and photos; you can find out more on his personal blog as an aspiring lawyer.

Applications are still open for the 2017 Generation UK China programme with Intern China, and the deadline is 12th December 2016. For more information visit the website (there are also other options for anyone not eligible for the Generation UK funded programme).

Going abroad generally is a daunting experience, and there is lots to consider. My blog post on 5 common questions for going global helps to think through initial concerns and issues. But for anyone who has the chance and means to undertake an overseas experience – to China or elsewhere – then my advice is to go for it. It will be a fantastic investment in your future career whether you stay in the UK or take the leap internationally. And personally, you will learn so much more about yourself, giving you the confidence and motivation to achieve your goals and ambitions.

This is my last post for 2016 as I will be taking a little break, but I will be back in the New Year with lots more interesting articles and content. Thanks to everyone for their continued support in reading and sharing my blog, it has been amazing and I am truly grateful. In the meantime, do have a lovely Christmas break, or a well deserved general time off if you don’t celebrate, and best wishes for 2017!

 

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