Name: Justine Porter
University: Dundee University
Programme: Beijing, two month internship, June 2015
Why did you decide to apply for the Generation UK internship programme?
I was in my final year studying law at university and found myself struggling to secure one of the elusive legal training contracts in London.
I came to the conclusion that I needed to separate myself from the crowd by offering potential employers something that many other candidates did not have – international work experience.
Aware of China’s emerging superpower status, rich history and culture and the increasing rate at which international law firms were expanding into China, I decided that Beijing was the perfect place in which to expand my horizons.
What did you think about your internship placement and what sort of tasks were you doing on a day-to-day basis?
At the law firm I was placed at, tasks involved legal and market research, attending client meetings and press conferences, proof reading emails and drafting a variety of legal documents such as joint venture agreements, legal opinions, indictments, purchase agreements and leases.
My supervisor was great to get along with and made every effort to involve me in the different things going on at the firm, whether it was a dinner with the senior partners, birthday parties or hiking trips.
Exposure to such a culturally distinct environment also taught me a great deal about Chinese business etiquette and the importance of guanxi – the social relationships integral to success in business.
I also learnt the do’s and don’ts of formal Chinese dining, for instance, I had it quickly pointed out to me that I should not raise my glass to the same height of senior partners when toasting!
What was the most enjoyable/exciting part of your experience in China?
Beijing itself is a very exciting city and there is so much to see and do there, so I would have to say that my weekends in China were the most enjoyable part of my experience as I was able to visit countless historical places of interest, eat street food, interact with the locals and go to some pretty spectacular bars!
How has the Generation UK programme helped you in achieving your goals?
Since returning to the UK, I have managed to secure a job as a trainee solicitor. I was able to apply the knowledge and skills I had acquired in China to the rigorous graduate recruitment processes I was put through.
I exercised my legal drafting skills in written exercises, gave persuasive presentations on ‘Why You Should Visit Beijing’ at assessment centres and was repeatedly quizzed on my time in China at interviews.
I believe my time in China on the Generation UK programme made me stand out as a candidate.
Do you have any plans to return to China in future or pursue Chinese language study further?
I am currently taking beginner Mandarin classes with the view to returning to China in the future and working with Chinese clients. I plan to return to China shortly to see more of the country.
Find out more about Generation UK-China funding for internship opportunities in China. Applications are still open for students in Wales and Northern Ireland, closing on 5 February.