Can you tell us about any projects or work experience that you have gained in your internship?

Before beginning my current client assignment, I had the amazing opportunity to help my firm itself get a footing as a newly-established company and develop strategies for success. This included designing a journal template which the firm will use to send updates to its associates and clientele. I was also given an inside look into the process of starting a Foreign Owned Enterprise in China and had time to conduct extra research on the Chinese Value Added Tax (VAT) system.

Are you using the accounting skills that you acquired in college to do hands on-work? If so, in what way? 

After starting work with my client, an American semiconductor company, as an intern project accountant through my firm, I definitely had the chance to apply skills I learned in college as well as develop all-new vocational skills. Learning how to navigate Enterprise Resource Planning software, file monthly and quarterly returns, and update financial statements are useful skills that go beyond standard classroom knowledge to better develop myself as an accounting professional. The universal skills I have adopted thus far will help strengthen my resume and better-prepare me for landing a career back home.

What is the strangest thing you have encountered so far?

Having visited Beijing twice before on study-abroad trips through my university, I had some familiarity with China, although My China Opportunity has provided me with the accommodations to live and work here for a much longer time period. As such, I am able to get a better feel for the pace of life and feel of the city’s culture that I couldn’t otherwise. In terms of the strangest and most interesting encounter with a local in Beijing, after reaching the peak of our group camping trip to a secluded segment of the Great Wall, I met with an elderly man who made the long journey up and down the mountain (much faster than we could despite his heavy gear) every day for 50 years to sell beverages to hikers. I sat and had a nice, long chat with the gentleman in Chinese and was able to learn a bit about his fascinating life. It’s experiences like this that one can’t otherwise have on a speed-trip through the city and learning Mandarin also helps one share stories and cultures with the locals (especially among elderly folks who are rarely able to communicate in English).

Also, as a gym nut, I’ve had more strange encounters at my local gym than I can write about here. (e.g. stepping outside to take a smoke break with the guys between every set… seriously?)

Is there any advice you would give to future interns, before they come to China?

Come with an open mind and heart. Don’t expect most things to be like they are back home because they won’t be – and that’s neither a good nor bad thing in most instances – things just work differently in China and that contributes to its charm. Don’t stay cooped up in your apartment on free days, but make the effort to go out and explore the city’s many landmarks, hutongs, and restaurants. If the weather is bad, try visiting one of Beijing’s many museums, the aquarium, or shopping malls. For instance, after exhaustedly finishing work and tutoring in the late evenings, I would still take the subway to Wangfujing shopping district to eat, check out the bookstores, and relax rather than simply going back home. It’s these experiences that will stick with you long after returning home.

Finally, make a concerted effort to learn as much Chinese as you can before coming. The more the better. You can get by easy enough knowing just English in Beijing, but the more Chinese you can speak, the better able you will be to delve into local culture and mingle with local folks.

Please describe a typical week in Beijing 

On the weekdays, I wake up at 7:30am to get ready and begin my ~1:15 commute to my client site on the other side of town to start work at 9:30am. I finish at 6:00pm most days and have Chinese tutoring three days a week from 6:05pm to 7:35pm after which I begin the same subway commute back home or somewhere to enjoy dinner. On the non-tutoring days, I’m able to drop by the gym for a lifting session before it closes its doors. Despite the long commute, I’ve been able to read novels or listen to podcasts on the subway to use that time productively (besides, taking a seat on the air-conditioned subway beats driving in traffic on the highways back home)!

Luckily, my weekends are completely open so I’ve been able to get the most out of them and explore the city. I was even able to celebrate the extended Dragon Boat Festival weekend in Dalian – a rapidly growing, beautiful costal city in Northeastern China and plan to take a short trip to Tokyo if time allows!