November 4, 2019, by svaccarini

Reflections on an internship as Events Manager for a local NGO in Chengdu province, China

By Elspeth Turner: 3rd year MSci International Relations & Global Issues.

I travelled to Chengdu, China to complete a month-long placement at an NGO. The NGO’s main goals were the development and promotion of community culture and creating a harmonious community atmosphere, building community cultural soft power and promoting cultural reform, and a development of a sustainable community spirit. For my role as an events manager, my main responsibilities included planning, implementing and executing new and current projects for the community. Being able to deliver on time and within budget and managing operational and administrative tasks to ensure specific projects are executed efficiently. I also assisted with marketing tasks and creating eye-catching and interesting English promotions and volunteering at some events.

I think my greatest achievement was leading an English class to a group of primary school aged children. They had very little English knowledge and by the end of the class they could almost perfectly pronounce a couple of the words and more importantly they understood the meaning of the words.

I think my biggest challenge was the initial culture shock. As I had never been to Asia before so in my first few days there everything was so different and new. But luckily I was living with an amazing host family who made me feel so welcomed and made the transition as smooth as possible, and even after a few days once I was in a routine I soon settled in.

I think that by living in China and completing a month-long internship at an NGO gives me a unique perspective on the world and that by living with a host family there it has equipped me with skills that will be easily transferable to any workplace. These skills are mostly focused on the matter of communication as I did not speak any mandarin when I went to China, so I had to really improve how I communicated in everyday situations.

My placement provider was from InternChina. My experience with them was completely positive and they made it an extremely smooth transition into China. Just a few examples of this was that they sent someone from the company to collect me from the airport and introduce me to my host family, they also took me to the NGO I would work at and stayed with my whilst I introduced myself and asked questions, and they even asked question on my behalf that I would never have thought of. They also took me for lunch on my first day and let me know that I was welcome at the office whenever I needed to, they also supported us the entire time through WeChat messages and arranged social events with the other interns to create a community environment. I could not recommend them enough to other students wanting to complete an internship in China.

Elspeth’s top tips for undertaking overseas placements:

  • Make sure the placement is something you would really enjoy completing
  • Do your research into the country and consider if you think you can see yourself there – try finding blogs or YouTube videos on people who have done internships in that country or just lived there
  • Make sure you’re in a financially stable place to do an internship – and so you can explore the country in your time off from the internship
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