Gabrielle Davitt – Entertainment & Media
Gabby graduated from Staffordshire University in the UK with an honors degree in Photojournalism. She completed our 3 month Intensive Chinese & Internship Program in Shanghai.
What kind of company did you work for and what kind of tasks did you do?
My internship was based in the fashion photography industry. I worked at a fashion agency located in Shanghai, where they organize, plan, and shoot for publications such as Harpers Bizarre, Vogue, GQ etc…
I interned there for 2 months and my role was primarily to assist the in-house photographer, and lighting technicians. I was also given opportunities to help with the post production, such as editing down the images. On occasions I would also help with proof reading the English proposals for prospective clients, which meant I was able to sit in a couple of meeting with my boss and the production manager. Projects completed during my internship included a campaign for the fashion brand Dazzle, a summer “look book” for Vogue magazine, as well as a cosmetics line for the brand Lancome.
What was your company like?
The company is a fashion agency which means they are hired to shoot for other companies and brands, as well as representing photographers who come over to Shanghai. For example, whilst I was interning, they took on legendary fashion video maker – Jon Wright – as a client for when he works in Shanghai. The company is one of only a few companies responsible for making Shanghai the capital of fashion in China; having worked with and represented some of the biggest names in the industry. The offices are big, spacious, and very chic.
It is a very laid back environment with all the employees’ offices being examples of a creative person’s work space. Many bring in their dogs a couple of times a week, so the atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed. My co-workers were eager to learn from me (English language wise) as much as I was from them. In pretty much all the places I have visited whilst in China, I have found the Chinese to be very friendly, hospitable, and more than happy to teach me.
Why did you choose to do an internship in China?
I chose China (specifically Shanghai) as it is rapidly becoming a big name for fashion and fashion photography. I recently graduated from university before coming here, so was eager to see a little bit of the world whilst also adding to my experience and CV. My parents also lived in Hong Kong for 2 years before I was born and had nothing but positive things to say about the experience, so I have always been keen to visit Asia and obviously try some of the delicious food I have heard so much about my whole life.
What was it like working with Chinese colleagues?
At first, working with Chinese colleagues was daunting, not only because of the language barrier but the different customs as well. However the 1 month of intensive Mandarin lessons I received when I first arrived here really made a difference to my confidence and was also a great way to break the ice at work. The Chinese are not easily offended if you say anything wrong and are keen to practise their English themselves.
On my first day, my colleagues were very tentative to make sure I had everything I needed and made an effort to bring me to lunch with them. I also sparked up a very unlikely friendship with the receptionist (Jessica) whose English was about as good as my Mandarin, so we had/have a lot of fun trying to communicate with each other.
What was the highlight of your time as an intern/your time in China?
The highlight of interning at the photography company was definitely the Vogue Summer “look book”. It was a 2 day shoot of quick changes and quick shooting. The photographer was incredible and was more than happy to let me watch over his shoulder at times. You really cannot imagine the amount of hard work and effort that goes into these shoots.
The highlight of my time in China was defiantly the weekend trip myself and the other interns and language students took to Hangzhou. We spent the weekend cycling around West Lake in the sun and relaxing by the lake side. The friends I have made here are definitely lifelong buddies!
What made you choose Internships China ?
I choose Internships China mainly because of everything included in the package. The language lessons, the social and cultural activities and the help you receive before arrival and during your stay. It all sounded perfect on the website.
As this was my first time in China and travelling on my own I felt a lot more comfortable knowing that there would be people around to help if I ever needed anything.
What did you think about Internships China and the services we offer?
From being greeted at the airport with Oreos to the accommodation, the reps, the greeting meals, and the farewell hotpots; everything that Internships China does for you whilst you are out here is great. They are around 24/7 for inquiries and emergencies, and always have advice for day trips or bars you may want to visit. The pre-departure package they send you before your trip is also extremely helpful in making sure you remember everything you need. When you arrive, they also set you up with a Chinese mobile number/SIM and a metro card. As well as this, you also receive a welcome booklet which includes restaurants, bars, clubs, tourist spots, metro info and pretty much anything you will need.
What did you think about the orientation and social/cultural events?
The orientation you get when you arrive is a great way to introduce yourself to the Chinese culture; they also give you a basic history and a list of do’s and don’ts.
When you first arrive you go to a lovely restaurant for a greeting banquet (I recommend the white radish!). As well as that, there is usually an outing every week in your first month as well as an activity at the language school, That’s Mandarin, every Wednesday. I attended calligraphy, Shanghainese, knot tying, tai chi, and the tea ceremony. All of the activities are great fun and there are drinks (including beer) for you to enjoy whilst you learn.
What did you think of your Intensive Chinese classes?
I was given 1 month of intensive Mandarin lessons when I first arrived in China, which consisted of 4 hour lessons 5 days a week. The teachers are truly great at what they do, and are always happy and cheerful. I reached a beginner level by the end of my 1 month and I really do feel confident with my Mandarin speaking abilities. I was able to use most of what I learnt in class on a daily basis in Shanghai, as they obviously teach you the things you will be needing to say the most. For someone who had never spoken a word of Chinese before in her life, I feel extremely proud of my capability now and enjoy showing off to my friends.
What would be your advice for other interns coming to China?
My advice for other interns would be to make sure you make the most of your time here. Use your weekends to see things, even outside of Shanghai. The high speed trains are a great/cheap way of getting out of the city. 3 months went by almost too quickly for me, I would personally have liked to stay for perhaps a couple more, even if it was not working and just travelling around China, as I feel like that could have been a nice way to end my time here.
I would also say do not be afraid to speak to the locals, they are all really friendly and usually very excited to talk to a Westerner (maybe be prepared to have your photo taken a lot, especially when visiting the smaller towns out of the city).
Would you recommend Internships China ?
I would recommend Internships China to anyone, particularly those who perhaps have not travelled on their own before. The reps are so helpful and you really do not need to worry about anything once you are here as they are always on hand. The accommodation is great, the location, the rooms and the service. I really can’t fault them.