Name: Aaron Rice
University: Queen's University Belfast
Host Company: Northern Ireland Executive Bureau, Beijing
Before flying out to China I felt mainly nerves and anticipation, but also excitement for my upcoming placement with the Northern Ireland Executive Bureau. Working in Beijing, a fascinating political and business environment in its own right, and being able to see its rich history and culture at the weekend seemed like the perfect combination!
The work varied greatly and although there were several larger projects that I worked on throughout the programme, the work load and nature of the work meant that almost every other day there was a small unforeseen task or role that I was asked to complete – something which fitted my work style and that I enjoyed. A key bonus and the area that I particularly enjoyed was that at least once a week I would accompany a colleague to a number of social or professional events, from representing the Bureau in meetings for upcoming trade envoys, Game of Thrones press tours and joint energy research seminars.
The main challenges during my internship were in hindsight part of the charm of China and the fun of doing an internship in Beijing. From the overcrowded metro system, the air pollution and the weather to the language barrier, the pace of the city and missing some home comforts, these were all things to overcome, but looking back at my time in Beijing, these were some of the most enjoyable parts of my experience, and in fact made it an authentic and real experience, as well as allowing me to gain an insight as to what life is really like living and doing business in China – something which I intend to do after graduation.
Reflecting on my time in Beijing, the skills I learnt can be categorised into two groups. The first are the primary skills I developed - an improved ability in negotiations, a new language, advertising and marketing experience, business knowledge in creating company profiles, the ability to research a wide variety of topics and deliver results, how business works in China and in Europe . The second skill set relates to the smaller things, that aren't necessarily obvious or quantifiable such as confidence, professionalism, body language and mannerisms, techniques during negotiations, time management, and personal presentation when representing the company – these are all things that are equally important and will benefit me greatly in my future career.
Having worked with and shadowed several members from the Northern Ireland Executive Bureau, not only did I make some incredibly useful contacts and friends within the Bureau itself, but also within several potential employers in China and back in Belfast. I am still on great terms with the Northern Ireland Executive Bureau and once I have graduated from university, I intend to work in full time employment based upon the connections I made during the internship.