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How To Interning In China
Whether you're in school or a recent graduate, an internship is your first priority when you start thinking seriously about entering the workplace. China is a vast country with many opportunities and, fortunately, there is a shortage of qualified professionals in certain areas. Here, you can get the perfect China internship you've always dreamed of. Internships always add points to your resume, and it's to your advantage to do so in a foreign country that's very different from the Western world.
Where to find an internship in China
The first ally worth utilizing is your own school/college. Leverage their network of contacts and their knowledge of internship opportunities in China. Your alma mater may also have some sort of "deal" with a Chinese company that can help with your internship. Go to your job center and see what they can do to help you.
Your university may already support a third-party internship agency, such as China Resources Asia or the Hutong School.
Your second biggest ally is the American company that you know is thriving in China. Take the opportunity to apply directly to these companies from within the country, interview them at their headquarters, and discuss the internship terms in person. This is especially helpful if you already have a dream company: it could be the start of a long-term relationship with the same professionals!
The last partner you'll have in your search for an internship in China is the Internet. There are many websites that list internship opportunities in various cities in China. Be sure to read reviews of China internships written by past participants, which can help you discern if a company is a scam (which can be an unfortunate reality). If you want to do it on your own and arrange your China internship independently, you can check out websites such as Beijing Renren.com, which has many classified sections.
Choose your area of interest
Don't go to China expecting an internship at an oddball company, have clear goals. Be purposeful and be clear. Be confident in your self-assessment of your current skills and be proactive in identifying what skills you hope to gain in your internship. The key to standing out from other students applying for internships in China is to do your homework: research the field from multiple angles. Find out how Americans view the industry abroad, how the field is performing globally, the history of the field in China, and where it is headed.
Learn what the industry and/or company is lacking and be prepared to show them how you can provide new knowledge and ideas, whether it's previous work experience or your own academic path. Expressing a genuine interest requires not only an understanding of the field itself, but also a certain knowledge of Chinese culture. Choose to intern in a field that will allow you to gain cross-cultural understanding in a multicultural work environment.
Get the Paperwork Done
Be sure to start an open discussion about your visa options before confirming your acceptance of the internship offer. Depending on the length of your internship in China, you will be eligible for a different type of visa. It's worth noting that by applying to a third-party agency, you'll have additional help to help you through the visa application process (as it can be a bit tricky). Their fees may be a little higher, but in such cases, having their guidance will often cost you more money.
Be sure to follow the instructions of your visa application closely - a missing document, or an incomplete scan of your passport, can result in a rejection. But don't worry, you can apply multiple times! As an intern, you can apply multiple times.
As an intern in China, you should be able to obtain a business (F) visa in your country. Sometimes companies will also require you to come to China on a tourist (L) visa and will send you a formal "invitation letter".
Since U.S. citizens can stay for up to 90 days on a tourist visa, companies are more willing to change your visa type when you are already in the country. If they do make such an offer, be sure to make sure they cover all the costs of your visa replacement. You can also be asked to fill out an alien medical examination form and should check with your doctor to ensure that your vaccinations are in compliance.