November 1, 2013

Internship Search While Studying Abroad

During the process of preparing to enter Weatherhead’s new Global MBA program, one thing that came up repeatedly was the difficulties the program’s structure would introduce in finding an internship during the summer after our first year. Due to our location in Asia, we were told, the interviewing process would not be as straightforward. This is not to say that any doors would be closed, but that we were going to have to approach our search from a different angle.

With this in mind, I decided to take a more experimental approach. Before my arrival, I established a relationship with the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai to see if they might be able to help me. The Chamber facilitates a wide variety of programs involving companies with ties to both China and the US, and many of its members are mid- to high-level executives. It organizes both networking events as well as educational forums for various issues that might be of interest to its members. I attend these when possible, and I have made a number of connections that I consider likely to lead to internship opportunities in the future. I  have already arranged a couple of projects that I work on in my spare time outside the classroom that are providing me with invaluable experience to better understand what work-life is really like in China.

In addition to the Chamber, there is a social networking site called Internations that serves as a hub for many professional and personal networking events in cities with large expatriate populations. I have attended events organized on this site in other cities and typically found them quite worthwhile, so I decided to check out their community in Shanghai. By far this is the best, most tight-knit expatriate community I have encountered. Everyone is eager to meet new people in a similar situation to their own, and everyone has an interesting story about how they ended up in Shanghai. While I keep my ears open about potential internship opportunities at Internations events, they are also worth attending just for the camaraderie. The vast majority of attendees are established professionals who can always provide insightful advice about living and working in Asia.

Of course, it is important to remain connected with Weatherhead’s Career Management Office and to fully explore all options they offer. I think it will be very important for future Global MBA classes to realize the extraordinary opportunities that exist in a city like Shanghai. While the language barrier can be intimidating it is not insurmountable as almost everyone in business speaks at least some English. In many ways, students will be able to directly interact with high-level executives. In Shanghai everyone is looking to do business, and that means keeping their options open. Let yourself be one of the options.

Christopher King, Global MBA '15, Global MBA Contributor
As part of the Global MBA program, Christopher King hopes to leverage his past professional experience in Asia into a long-term presence there. He hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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