Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

International Highlight: Internship in Shanghai

This post was written by Peer Career Ambassador Jenny Hai ‘16

Everyone, at one monumental point in their lives, has their epiphany. Fortunately, I too experienced mine during a semester abroad in Shanghai, China. Or at least in retrospect, that is what it felt like – although I have difficulty remembering the precise moment it happened.

I questioned what made me feel the vision so vividly. Was it when I was helping design the marketing materials in different languages? Or maybe when I was asked to contact and interview close to 100 foreign brands? Or perhaps it was when I was tasked with planning an English afternoon tea event with a Chinese flair.

Although I don’t remember the exact moment, I still remember the chill that ran through my body as I made the silent promise to myself – to do whatever it takes to pursue an international career. There it was… my dream taking its shape for the very first time.

I always knew I was interested in different cultures. I have always been on the outlook for the latest fusion food in Los Angeles, but making a career out of bridging international businesses and global strategies truthfully seemed very intimidating.

It’s funny how a dream creeps up on you. It looms in your shadow and before you realize, it has already taken form as a part of your living spirit. I believe it was sometime in January (took out -) when I first started my internship at The Ascott Hengshan Shanghai. I was in that city for the first time in my life, with a year of Mandarin in my pocket and a passion to learn more about global marketing.

I was placed at a brand new luxury serviced-living property smack in the center of the French Concession, the bustling international center of Shanghai. The day I walked in, my Bulgarian manager assigned us the task of researching the luxury lifestyle of Shanghai expatriates and the rising desire of the local Chinese to be a part of this trend.

Was the property a viable environment to begin an exclusive club membership? Was there enough interest brewing in Shanghai to launch a high society association? If so, what were the exquisite activities that this group could possibly be interested in? That was where I began my research, making phone calls to international brands that were making a large footprint in this market.

The project experience was phenomenal. Not only did I gain insight about the trends and market in Shanghai, China but also on the international brands that were making strategic entrances into the new land of luxury opportunity. Our research ranged from international art galleries to small Australian soap boutiques to global food chains.

That was when I knew, becoming a marketing guru in the States simply would not satisfy my curiosity. I was addicted to the adrenaline that rushed through after completing a conversation in Chinese with a startup juice company originating from Chicago. I was inspired by the global ideas our team embodied. I was energized by the opportunity for growth in a foreign country and the perspective shift that came along with understanding a different culture.

However, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, especially during the beginning of the internship. There were challenges I never imagined: the differences in professional etiquette, work processes, management styles, and even eating habits were uncomfortable at first. (One shall not be seated during a meal before the manager has seated!) But in the end, it was all worth it. I concluded my internship with a new dream and a refined career goal.

Now, I challenge you to do the same. Take advantages of the global opportunities available at Babson and on the web. Even if you do not end up forging an international career path, it will still be an eye-opening experience and a great conversation starter in interviews. Come visit the Career Center and talk to Rosita Brailovsky-Fine, our new counselor concentrating in developing international opportunities for students. Explore the web for international internships and scholarship programs.

As part of a continuation of my international career exploration, I will be launching a bi-weekly international highlight blog series. I hope to use this chance to interview alumni around the world and seek a better understanding of their post-Babson career journey. Hold on tight for the next series: an inside peek into the life of an alum working in Japan!