For most Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information undergraduates, going to China for their Professional Internship does not typically show up on their radar.
Many are concerned about their level of proficiency in the Chinese language when it comes to working there.
But as the second-largest economy continues to make huge advances in technology, more young Singaporeans consider it an asset to have working experience in the country.
In 2019, eight WKWSCI undergraduates - the largest group to date - completed their PI in China, double the usual three to four students.
Final year students Jerome Wong, Tang Wei Quan and Lo Hoi Ying (all CS’20) shed light on why they decided to take that leap of faith and the invaluable lessons they learned.
Jerome Wong (CS’20): Accounts Intern at Horizon Group
“Everyone says that China is very closed off and that they have their own advertising industry, but what does that mean and how is it different?”
JEROME WONG (CS’20): ACCOUNTS INTERN AT HORIZON GROUP
When Jerome Wong first heard of the Work and Study China programme through a senior who completed her PI at online magazine Time Out Shanghai, he was pleasantly surprised to hear of such opportunities offered by the school.
After all, he has always been curious about work life in China.
“Everyone says that China is very closed off and that they have their own [unique] advertising industry, but what does that mean and how is it different?”
Last semester, he took the plunge to find out more when he assumed the role of an Accounts intern at Horizon Group in Shanghai.
Wong’s role mainly involved being the point of contact between the company and clients as a member of the Accounts Department.
Through the eye-opening experience, he gained a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and consumer behavior such as the prevalent use of WeChat, TikTok and celebrity endorsements to reach out to potential consumers.
Over the five months of his internship, he came to realise how vital these strategies were for brands and companies, when it comes to breaking into the Chinese market.
“As the Chinese market continues to become an important consumer base for brands, I believe that the insights gained from my internship has better prepared me for the future.”
Tang Wei Quan (CS’20): Visual Reporting Intern at TechNode
“Living in China allowed me to experience the tech ecosystem there. For instance, mobile payments are so common that people don’t even bring their wallets out. You don’t get to experience such things until you’re living in the space for a long period of time.”
TANG WEI QUAN (CS’20): VISUAL REPORTING INTERN AT TECHNODE
What drew Tang to consider China as a place for his internship was his interest in the country’s rapid advancements in technology and its start-up culture.
Wanting to make the most of his internship experience, he self-sourced for a company that would suit his interests, instead of limiting his options to those offered by the Work and Study China program. Eventually, he decided on TechNode, an online publication that writes about the tech and startup scene in China.
As a Visual Reporting Intern based in Shanghai, Tang was mainly in charge of capturing and putting together videos and animation.
His internship also gave him the opportunity to interview venture capitalists and attend corporate-level tech conferences that would otherwise be inaccessible to a student.
Living in China also opened his eyes to how different the culture and norms of the country is.
“I got to experience the tech ecosystem there. For instance, mobile payments are so common that people don’t even bring their wallets out. You don’t get to experience such things until you’re living in the space for a long period of time,” he said.
Lo Hoi Ying (CS’20): News Intern at Sixth Tone
“Be aware and understand that the country that you are going to is a very special one. You can’t look at China through a Singaporean lens.”
LO HOI YING (CS’20): NEWS INTERN AT SIXTH TONE
With the intention of pursuing journalism in the Greater China region in the future, interning in Shanghai was a natural choice for Lo, even if it was an unpaid internship.
Lo’s day-to-day job at Sixth Tone, an online publication that covers a wide range of issues in modern-day China, allowed her to come into direct contact with government press releases and newsmakers regarding pertinent social issues.
Reporting on news from a large country like China and experiencing the nation’s strict censorship were just some of the many invaluable takeaways that Lo would not have gained in Singapore, she said.
In terms of advice she has for future batches, Lo encourages them to read Chinese news for some contextual knowledge.
She said: “Be aware and understand that the country that you are going to is a very special one. You can’t look at China through a Singaporean lens.”