In April 2011 I conducted my first internship abroad at the Australian Chamber of Commerce (Hong Kong and Macau Chapter) located in Hong Kong, as an Intern Communications Assistant. I conducted my internship after completing a semester of university exchange at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in which I was studying Chinese culture and Chinese history as part of the RMIT University Bachelor of International Studies degree.
How did you find out about the opportunity?
The position was not advertised as I was AustCham Hong Kong’s first intern.
My process of attaining the internship included emailing the General Manager of the Chamber with my CV and a Cover Letter which expressed my interest in interning for the Chamber. After a number of weeks, I received a reply email requesting an over the phone interview and this eventually led to a face to face interview.
What kinds of tips do you have for others applying for similar opportunities?
I would recommend that other students looking to intern for any of the Australian Chamber’s of Commerce (Beijing, Shanghai, South China or Hong Kong and Macau) should get in touch with previous interns and seek advice about their experiences.
On a general note, I would say that organising internships abroad are time intensive and require a lot of forward planning, and you must be prepared to wait a number of weeks (possibly even months) before hearing back from a company that you have contacted. So patience and persistence are key to attaining an internship abroad!
What did you enjoy/gain from interning at AustCham Hong Kong?
I had a thoroughly enjoyable experience interning for AustCham Hong Kong and Macau. Despite my young age, I was given much responsibility in the office, and I felt that my contributions to the work of the Chamber were actively recognised.
My highlights included assisting in the organisation of the Chamber’s annual business lunch alongside Austrade and attending the Chamber’s monthly [email protected] networking events.
Additionally, I also had the opportunity to attend the many events held at the Chamber’s headquarters which included a time management workshop, and lectures relating to the opportunities and hardships faced by Australian businesses operating in the Greater Pearl River Delta region. My experience at the Chamber provided me with practical lessons about doing business in China that I would not have had the opportunity to learn during my everyday university studies.
Negatives of the internship?
My experience at the Chamber was very positive. The only issue is that the property market in Hong Kong is inflated which can make renting in Hong Kong very expensive. So it’s best to try and stay with a friend whilst interning in Hong Kong, or request an extended stay at the Hong Kong university that you are attending.
My time at the Chamber assisted me in making many professional contacts in Hong Kong with whom I have maintained regular contact with.
I also believe that my experience interning in Hong Kong was instrumental in assisting me in becoming an inaugural recipient of the Victorian Government Department of State Development, Business and Innovation’s Hamer Scholarship the following year. I was able to utilise experiences from my Chamber in the interview process and this helped me to showcase my understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese business practices.
Funding or income
The Chamber did not offer paid internships, however, I was compensated for my travel to and from the office. This amounted to around $12 a day.
However, I was provided with the opportunity to attend many of the Chamber’s events and business workshops free of cost.
Tips and advice about the work/office culture
The Chamber’s office culture was a mix of both Australian and Chinese culture. Although English was the office lingua franca, Cantonese (and at times Mandarin), were used in the office.
I believe that a basic knowledge of Cantonese would prove useful for students seeking an internship in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong staff will often converse in Cantonese, however, English is usually enough to get by on a daily basis.
It is best to check the current immigration rules pertaining to internships or part-time work in Hong Kong as the circumstances may have changed since 2011.
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