Aussie intern Alexi took the Intensive Chinese & Internship Program for 2 months in the Autumn of 2013. She worked at a Chinese media company helping to organise and promote the world’s third largest beauty pageant.

1. What are you doing now?
I’m currently working full-time back in Adelaide, Australia and have also been continuing my Mandarin studies through The University of Adelaide since my return from Shanghai.

2. Have you been successful in finding a job?
After returning home to Adelaide, I spent the next few months easing back into life in Australia and working part-time, while looking for a full time job in my industry. I was recently fortunate enough to gain a full-time position as Sales and Marketing Coordinator in Business Development for the transcontinental rail company, Great Southern Rail in Adelaide.

3. Did your experience in China help you to find a position and, if so, how did it help?
Our product is sold world-wide and my role is specifically in coordinating business development for the International and Groups markets, so I think my experience doing business in China – a leading economy of the world – helped significantly in gaining my position at Great Southern Rail. Many of our clients are based in China and often come to Australia to travel on our trains and familiarise themselves with our products. My role requires regular communication with these clients and often allows me to host their familiarisations on train, so I think having a better understanding of their culture, and being able to have a basic conversation with them will be extremely beneficial!

4. Do you think your experience in china changed you in any way and, if so, how?
Definitely. Leaving your friends and family to go to a foreign country where you know nobody and can’t speak a word of the language is a daunting but unbelievable feeling. I felt the biggest sense of achievement when I got back and still feel so proud of myself when I get to casually throw into conversation that I lived and worked in Shanghai for two months – my only regret being that it wasn’t long enough.

Being in a situation where you are forced to learn the language, navigate around a foreign city, mingle with people from other cultures, and stick to a work-life schedule that may differ significantly from what you’re used to teaches you so much about yourself. It develops your confidence and independence and makes you realise that there is so much more of the world to explore. Living in such a fast-paced city – one that has developed so much in just thirty years – inspires your ambition and helps you create bigger goals. The Startup China internship not only helps you gain work experience, but a cultural and social one, to ensure that your overseas experience is not wasted.

5. Do you have plans to come back to china in the future?
Of course! My internship finished in December 2013 and I’ve already been back again for a quick trip to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in April 2014! I’d love to come for a longer period of time but it’s much harder now that I’m working full-time. I’d really love to live and work in China for a few years, particularly in Shanghai or Hong Kong, and am hoping that I find an opportunity to do so sometime in the near future.