November 4, 2014, by Jackie Thompson

Reflecting on My Summer Engineering Internship in the UK

By Naichen ‘Billy’ Xing

As a non-EU international student from The University of Nottingham Ningbo China Campus, I had been looking forward to finding work experience in the UK. The Nottingham Internship Scheme helped me discover the ideal opportunity: an engineering internship for ATG Global.

Grasping the opportunity

Through the Careers and Employability Service website, I found out about the eight-week Nottingham Internship Scheme working in small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the local area. I had almost given up the thought of doing an engineering internship when the offer of an interview came through the day my exams finished.

The Careers and Employability Service helped me prepare for the recruitment process. I had a CV review and attended a mock assessment centre. These sessions help me to develop my skills as well as improve my confidence.
After two rounds of interviews, I was successfully selected as one of two manufacturing engineer interns by ATG Global, an engineering sourcing company based in Keyworth.

My work involved helping to determine the company’s product manufacturing specifications and creating and maintaining CAD models and drawings. As I can speak both English and Mandarin, I was also involved in contacting ATG China’s office to assist in communications and helping to contact a supplier for a company visit.

Learning about British culture

I never expected to be making coffee for colleagues before my internship, and I did not know how! As a lover of Chinese green tea, I had to decline the warm offers for coffee from colleagues every day. In order to compensate, I volunteered to make coffee for them every day. For me, this helped improve relationships with colleagues and is the first meaningful lesson I learnt about British work culture.

The other very apparent difference between British and Chinese work cultures is the relationship between the manager and their staff. In China, there is a very clear hierarchical relationship and as a result staff might be very cautious about what they say, and not say something contrary to their manager’s wish. This is not the case here. When I had a problem, my manager was always very willing to help me and explain everything in detail to make sure I understood clearly. He also encouraged me to express what I thought instead of just following his thinking or instructions. His attitude really encouraged me to think independently and enhanced my progress at work.

Looking back on the internship

In addition to the technical knowledge and practical skills I’ve gained through my time at ATG Global, this internship offered me a platform to learn how to behave professionally in a working environment, how to communicate with my colleagues and managers, and how the company operated.

In addition to receiving the Internship Grant, the Careers and Employability Service had lots of helpful information on how to make full use of the internship. An internship with a small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) is just as valuable as working for a big company and I really hope more international students get this chance in the future.

Cheers and good luck! Billy

If you’re interested in working for an SME, register your interest in joining the Nottingham Internship Scheme and hear more from Billy in our video on his experience at ATG Global. 

Posted in International StudentsWork experience