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Student intern in China, explore business and culture

| Wednesday, September 30, 2015

For those who are interested in working abroad, specifically in Asia, look no further than Notre Dame International (NDI).

Miranda Ma, the Asia advisor of NDI, said this past summer, NDI introduced an extension to the Summer China Business and Culture program. The program traditionally offered Notre Dame students the opportunity to study the business environment in China and Chinese culture, all while exploring the major cities of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei. The two courses are led by Notre Dame faculty and grant the participants six academic credits.

Unlike past summers, NDI offered a new component to this experience. Five students were able to extend their stay and supplement their experience by participating in a five-week internship program with Caixin Media and ​AEGON-Industrial Fund Management Company located in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively.

Ma said the experience was positive for both the students and the companies they worked for. She said these experiences were only made possible due to the collaboration between NDI’s Beijing Global Gateway and the presidents of Notre Dame clubs in Beijing and Shanghai.

According to NDI’s website, the Global Gateways “provide academic and intellectual hubs where scholars, students and leaders from universities, government, business and community gather to discuss, discover and debate issues of topical and enduring relevance.”

According to Ma, the number of students who have had the opportunity to work abroad has been historically low due to the challenges and complications of applying for work visas. NDI and the firms were able to overcome this obstacle by offering unpaid internships, while NDI provided the students with funds for housing, meals and other expenses. Ma said this system of support also proved beneficial for the companies since they did not need to deal with the complexity of visas and housing accommodation for their interns, and instead, were able to fully focus on the development of business and technical skills.

NDI is currently working to expand the scope of the program by offering internships located in Hong Kong and Taipei to the next class of Summer China Business and Culture students, Ma said.

Junior Justin Gallagher along with two other Notre Dame students, interned at AEGON-Industrial Fund Management Company — a mutual fund located in the Pudong District in Shanghai. He said he had no prior experience with the Chinese language, which proved difficult in getting around the city with his peers.

“The two other students and I always stuck together while traveling,” Gallagher said. “Sometimes, it was difficult to get a taxi to stop for us, and if they had a question about the address, we could not answer it. We got around by taking a picture of the address and showing it to the driver on our phone. This strategy usually got us where we needed to go.”

Despite the difficulties provided by the language barrier, Gallagher said he would definitely recommend this experience to other students.

“I learned a ton about both Chinese culture and business, which I think will help me in my own career by giving me a different perspective on business in an increasingly global world,” he said.

During the internship, Gallagher used the weekends to take advantage of the opportunity to travel and explore China.

“One weekend, the two other interns and I flew to Xi’an in central China where we saw the Terracotta Warriors, rode a tandem bike on the Xi’an City Wall and visited the Small Wild Goose Pagoda,” he said. “… the most valuable part of this experience was being able to experience a totally different culture. Previously, I had never been outside of North America before, and China was a bit of a culture shock. I found all of the Chinese customs and cultural practices very interesting, and I also really enjoyed traveling to see some of China’s vast history.”

Ma said NDI helped provide student with internship opportunities outside of China as well. Beijing Global Gateway, with the support of Don McCauley, COO of Oracle Japan and a Notre Dame alumnus, were able to provide three students with internship experiences at Oracle in Tokyo facilitated by Keio University.

The extent of NDI’s globalization efforts is not limited to new internship opportunities. This past summer, Notre Dame’s offered its inaugural Chinese summer study abroad program, the China Summer Language Program. Students completed an eight-week program to improve their language skills at the prestigious Peking University campus. According to the program brochure, to fully immerse students in the language, students are required to take a language pledge, a pledge to speak only Chinese during the duration of the program. The program also scheduled excursions and cultural events over the course of the summer.

Visit international.nd.edu to learn more about the numerous study abroad programs, research programs and internship opportunities that are available to current students.

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About Wei Lin

Wei Lin currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. He served as the Photo Editor on the 2014-2015 Editorial Board. He is a senior Accountancy, Economics, and Chinese triple major living in Knott Hall. He hails from the borough of Queens in New York City.

Contact Wei