AustCham Beijing internship

 

In early 2014 I interned with the Australian Chamber of Commerce Beijing (AustCham Beijing) for two months as part of the internship component of the Australian Prime Minister’s Asia Endeavour Award.

 

How did you find out about the AustCham Beijing internship opportunity?

I identified AustCham Beijing as a potential internship host because of the positive experiences I heard from two RMIT classmates who completed internships with AustCham in 2010. Rather than directly contacting the Chamber via email or telephone, I attended an AustCham event in person and was able to meet directly with the team and the General Manager. I was fortunate to be already studying and residing in Beijing which made this option easy. I strongly recommend attending an AustCham event if you’re already based in China, as there are not only opportunities to meet with the AustCham team but also business people – and sometimes government people – from a full spectrum of organisations.

How long was the application process? What kinds of stages were involved? What kinds of tips do you have for others applying for similar opportunities?

As I was already studying in Beijing, I decided to attend an AustCham networking event (Kooka Monthly Drinks) as an opportunity to make contact with the Chamber rather than relying on a cold call. After collecting several name cards from numerous organisations, I emailed AustCham Beijing and Beijing Consulting Group the following week to enquire into potential internship opportunities. I was invited for interviews with both organisations and I decided to take the internship with AustCham. The role at AustCham offered more potential in developing my professional skills and I was also swayed towards interning at AustCham so I could work with one of my old RMIT classmates.
I thoroughly recommend internship seekers to identify potential internship hosts and attend networking events which expose you to senior managers or HR staff from those particular organisations. This is where living in the same city as the organisation makes a big difference as you have the opportunity to meet face-to-face. From my experience, cold calls and particularly cold emails have a much lower success rate.

What did you enjoy/gain from the program? Why do you recommend it to others?

Although I had the option of sitting at several desks, I took a gamble and decided to sit directly next to the General Manager. Sitting next to the boss quickly turned into an enormous positive as I was able to observe Nick effectively talking to stakeholders over the phone, and I took mental notes on his effective management style. On a personal level we also clicked really well and particularly as the only two male Australians in the office. I had lunch almost every day with the boss and learnt far more through hitting him up for advice than I did through my designated tasks at the Chamber. I would thoroughly recommend others to intern with the Chamber as there is enormous potential to network with the Chamber’s member companies as well as the board of directors. Interns at the Chamber are also typically entrusted with important and interesting tasks.

Negatives within the program?

None. I enjoyed interring at the Chamber so much that I typically worked a full week rather than the four days I initially agreed upon in my internship contract.

Outcome of the Program

As a direct outcome of the program I was offered a full-time position to work at the Chamber as a Relationships Manager. I worked at the Chamber for two years.

Funding or income

The AustCham stipend of 1,000 RMB per month in expenses (and redeemed through receipts) is low but I was fortunate enough to have been receiving financial support from an Australian Government scholarship while interning with the Chamber.

Tips and advice about the work / office culture

The work atmosphere at the Chamber is very relaxed and the staff are all very friendly. The work culture at the Chamber leans more towards an Australia style rather than Chinese.

Immigration

The Chamber can provide some support for interns. You will need to contact the Chamber to find out regarding your specific situation.

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Olly Theobald

Director at Asia Options.
Olly works in Hangzhou China and is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, e-commerce, Asia education, tech and foreign languages. Olly is a graduate from RMIT University and the Hopkins Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Olly speaks Mandarin and Korean.

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