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I’ve talked a lot about what it’s like to work as an English teacher or college counselor in China, but what about interning? My very good friend Lena from Lenaaround is currently getting her Master’s Degree in Beijing, while also working as a part-time intern. Today she’s going to talk a little bit about her experience, and tell you exactly what you need to do to become an intern in China!
The following is a guest post by Lena of Lenaaround.
I had just started my master’s degree in Beijing but after a few weeks stuck in a burning hot classroom with a bunch of newbies who knew nothing about China and actually didn’t want to know anything anyway (free scholarships are apparently a good enough reason to go to China for two years), I was so over that experience. It was my hundredth time, or something like that, in the dragon country and I was ready to learn how to be a grown-up and go to work. Of course, I couldn’t do that because I was on a student visa and in theory, you aren’t allowed to earn money on that visa.
Well, “in theory”, of course, because most people do it anyway, but only as English teachers and I was kind of over that as well.
I Don’t Want to Teach English
Now you’re probably thinking; ‘wow, what a negative soul there’. No no, it’s not like that, I’d just already tried those things in China and I was ready to get back to my actual purpose of being here; to build up my career, create my brand as a China specialist, learn how to earn money on my own through YouTube and finally be able to publish a book about my crazy, funny, insane adventure in China.
I have many dreams and they are filling my head so the thought of spending one more minute in that burning hot classroom was unbelievably hard. I’m still a good student, though, so I stayed until the bell rang. (In one building the bell sounds like when we had fire escape practices in my high school at home. Every time it starts ringing, I wish I could turn down my hearing aid but no, still too young for those things.)
When the bell rang that particular Friday as the heat was making my head boil, it was ringing in to holiday (is that an English phrase? I don’t know, sometimes I just make up sentences when I think they sound nice. Yes, they don’t even have to make much sense. That’s how laid-back I am, sometimes too much I assume).
Deciding to Find and Internship
Anyway, it was the day before Golden Week and I had yet another full week of nothing to do. I started stressing. That’s me. I’m one of those people who can’t relax, so I went to the nearby café every single day to prepare my YouTube videos and spam my social media channels with weird thoughts or something like that.
But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t gaining enough from it. I knew I was going to a travel conference the week after. I also knew that I was going to film a culture program for CCTV’s social media, but it still wasn’t enough. In the moment, I felt a sudden panic rising, and I was shifting nervously in my seat in the quiet café. I knew that it was time to do something real about this problem.
In that moment I’d decided to find an internship.
Finding an Internship in China
I’m one of those spontaneous people. I once bought a ticket to Australia on a whim. It was February and cold in Denmark. I’d met a cute couchsurfer and when he said I should come and visit the next December, I was like; ‘hell yeah!’. People thought I’d gone crazy. No no, just me being a bit too spontaneous. Sometimes good, sometimes not so much but anyway, this time it was a great spontaneous move from my side. Okay, enough appraisal for Lingling (My Chinese name and how I refer to myself, weird, I know!)
I took a sip of my Diet Coke and turned on my computer again. I went to Yahoo (Because Google is blocked, Yahoo is the new place to go. Well, not really, but it’s faster). I searched “internships in China” and “internships in Beijing”.
I knew about all the agencies who really want to help you and that is great too. I went to China the first time with an agency as well (19 and naïve – I didn’t even know what a visa was lol, don’t judge!) but now I’ve been in China for three years (back and forth to Denmark during the last five years) so I wanted to find one on my own.
Where to Look for Internships in China
If you want to find an internship in Beijing, I recommend looking at The Beijinger where what’s going on in Beijing is all posted and up to date. Many other websites have internship suggestions as well but a lot of them are outdated. I searched through The Beijinger and I also looked at eChinaCities, which is another great website where you can find anything and everything for China.
There weren’t many options for me, but I found a few and feeling eager to accomplish something I sat down and put together a few applications. I forwarded two of them and then I suddenly felt much more relaxed. I had finally done something for myself and my career and I leaned back in my seat and drank the rest of my Diet Coke.
A few days later I received an email and when I opened it, I started jumping up and down. I had gotten an interview for one of the internships, I’d applied for! How lucky could I be? I hurriedly texted back that I was ready to talk on the following Wednesday and by the end of the month I had completed the interview, went to the great travel conference, filmed my TV show, signed a contract for the internship and visited the office for the first time.
The Chinese Internship Experience
My internship is at a great language school where they teach intense Chinese courses. I remembered the school because I was once a student here and I thought interning there would be such a great experience. I wanted to combine my earlier work experience with YouTube and other social media channels, and a passion for China in this internship. I would be able to learn how to work in a multicultural office, how to work with social media for a company, and how to combine work and my passions together.
The most amazing part is that I also get to practice my Chinese daily because we have branches where they don’t speak English at all, so all contact with those co-workers is solely in Chinese. We also speak a lot of Chinese in the office, which again is a great way for me to practice more of the language in another environment. I’m already strong in talking about boys and love, whereas here I’m learning how to explain what a guest post and blogging mean.
I couldn’t be happier with this internship experience where I have three days of full-time work in the office a week because I also still have two classes to go too. I bike to work every day so I also get a good 30 minutes of exercise every morning and evening. See, now I’m not so negative anymore right? Haha, I was just looking for the right thing for me to do and I found it in this internship.
How to Intern in China At A Glance
Curious about finding your own internship? Lena made a video on her You Tube Channel with all the steps you need to follow to get a great job here in China!
How to Find an Internship Online
Use an expat website like The Beijinger and E-China Cities for internship job postings. This is great because it’s easy to use and completely free!
If you’re not on an official work visa, you’ll probably be given a “stipend”. Lena makes 500 RMB ($72 USD) a month. It isn’t much, but for a student, it’s not so bad! They also give her 80 hours of Chinese classes for free.
Never Been to China?
Find an agency! You have to pay a small fee, but they’ll find you a job and help you with your visa. Lena used Immerqi to find her first internship in China. She even has a promo code (LENA50) for $50 off your program fee.
Immerqi is great for internships, but if you’re looking for a job in China, be sure to read my Ultimate Guide on How to Find a Job in China and check out my China Job Board where I’ve curated an awesome list of jobs just for you!
Do you have any questions about interning in China? Let us know and we’ll be sure to get back to you! Do you want to guest post on Adventures Around Asia? Check out my Editorial Guidelines!
Lena (Lingling) is a YouTuber for Lenaaround and intern at LTL Mandarin School, Beijing. In her spare time, she likes to run around Beijing to meet new friends both in English and Chinese, goes to class once in a while so the professor will remember her, and eats a lot of cheap sushi from Seven Eleven.