Name: Onya Amadi

University: University of Nottingham 

Host Company: Web Presence in China, Beijing

The moment that the email regarding an internship abroad in China, provided for by the British Council, popped up in my inbox, it practically changed the path of my life and career irrevocably. A small part of me wanted to shrug the email off and mused on about how unlike me it would be to take part in something so far away and so extreme, but the lion’s share was undeniably drawn to the opportunity. What made me apply the programme initially was adrenaline and the desire to push myself fully out of my comfort zone because as they say, that is where growth happens. However, once I begun the application, I realised that work experience in China aligned entirely with my past academic interests and my future career and personal development goals. 

I graduated from the University of Nottingham in the summer of 2016, and shortly before that handed in a piece of work that embodied litres of blood, sweat and tears – my dissertation. I researched the facets and personality traits that affect perseverance and how this differs between East Asian and Western cultures. The essay looked not only at differences but how this trait is portrayed and valued, and vitally what we have to learn from each other’s culture. The chance to work in China meant seeing the fruits of my labour in reality, and being in dialogue with the people whose culture I had developed a profound interest and admiration in. Furthermore, the chance to work in any industry (including my preferred, Marketing) meant that I could show how keen I am to broaden my horizons, personally and professionally, to any future employee. 

Arriving in Beijing, I truly enjoyed trying to immerse myself into a different culture. Despite being warned by nervous family and friends that there is no way a vegan could ever survive in China, I definitely thrived! I devoured noodles, bowls of rice, delicious vegetables, noodles, novel fruits, intriguing meat substitutes, and amazing noodles – and did I mention the noodles? They were my favourite! 

My placement was in a company called Web Presence in China, or WPIC for short. During my internship, it was so interesting to learn about marketing as a whole in China. It is a completely different entity to marketing in Western countries due to the wildly different social media channels and interfaces. Not only that, the Chinese market has different characteristics, desires and motivations for shopping, which was interesting to learn not only as a budding marketer, but as a psychology student. Furthermore, it was very enlightening to hear that the e-commerce focus was beginning to shift from the renowned, adored first and second  tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, towards more rural third and fourth tier cities. The digital markets of the higher tier cities are becoming saturated thus opportunity clearly and assuredly lies in the lower tier cities. This is interesting as the effect this would have on the perception, access and economy of the lower tier cities would be palpable, and would benefit and change the livelihoods of millions.

The relationship between China and the UK is no doubt one of imitation – and if imitation is ostensibly a form of flattery, this surely can’t be a bad thing! Whether it be products, initiatives like e-bikes, or even Western vegan restaurants popping up around China it’s clear that China and the UK have a close relationship where they watch and learn from each other. With socio-political changes ahead for the UK, my nation and I have drawn closer than ever to China and I fully intend to return to China, for travel and for work.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that Generation UK - China has given to me. Due to their sheer generosity, I believe I have taken part in what I would consider an initiative that aims to widen participation for an opportunity that may have been uniquely accessible to the fortunate and affluent few.

Find out more about funded internship opportunities in China with Generation UK-China. Generation UK-China  also provides a funded joint internship and language learning programme