Joshua Williams graduated with a Geography degree last year and has recently completed an internship in China. He gives us an insight into this fascinating experience and his plans for the future.
“After graduating with a Geography degree from the University of South Wales last summer, I still hadn’t made my mind up about what I wanted to do with my degree. So after a summer of holidays in Europe and continuing with my part-time job, I came across an incredible opportunity from an organisation called Intern China, which offered support in finding internships in China.
“A requirement for gaining the internship was a bachelor's degree. After completing applications and passing some interviews, I was offered a role as Events Assistant with the British Chamber of Commerce, in Southwest China. After a bus ride to London and two flights later, I finally arrived in the southwestern city of Chengdu, located in Sichuan province.
“I had participated in many field-trips during my three years of study, including Cornwall, London, New York and Hong Kong. The latter proved to be most useful, particularly within the interview process, as I was able to talk about how I had visited Asia before and therefore had a small idea of life in Asia. However, coming from a small Welsh village in the valleys, to a foreign city of over fourteen million people was a little surreal, to say the least. Thankfully, the culture shock only lasted a few days and I quickly acclimatised.
“Chengdu, found on the Chengdu Plain, is known as the ‘Land of Abundance’ and it is where I was introduced to some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted and some not so nice – I now confidently know I do not like fish head and tofu soup. The city is known for its laidback feel, its spicy Sichuan cuisine and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
“I was able to apply skills and knowledge gained as part of my degree to my internship. For example, the second-year module of my degree, 'Participatory Geography', provided me with transferable skills such as how to communicate with community groups and organise meetings and events. Also, having the ability to work under pressure and to deadlines meant I could meet my targets during my internship, for example, when working on marketing materials.
“My internship has taught me additional skills, such as website marketing, how to create, edit and publish newsletters, and generally what a nine-to-five job feels like. The fact that I’ve worked abroad, and with such an esteemed organisation, is sure to make any future job applications stand out from other applicants.
“Office working hours in Chengdu were very similar to in Wales. However, China has Golden Weeks and I was lucky enough to have my internship during the Chinese Lunar New Year Golden Week, which is a seven-day holiday (however, you are required to work two days back).
“Two months in China was definitely not enough time to really immerse myself within the culture and learn the language. I’ve had some great experiences I’ll never forget – ordering food on a Chinese menu without any knowledge of what I’ve ordered, visiting Beijing and the Great Wall of China, visiting pandas, temples and mountains, watching my first basketball game (go Blue Whales) and experiencing Chinese New Year and Spring Festival.
“My future plans involve a career of teaching English in China and I am currently undertaking a TEFL qualification to achieve this.”