Intern inspired to pursue a future in China

In this article Aidan Young describes the incredible three months he spent in Ningbo, China, over the New Zealand summer interning at digital marketing agency United Media Solution. Aidan is studying a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in global studies at Otago University. He says his internship experience has improved his knowledge of China "tenfold" and inspired him to learn more.
Aidan holding an umbrella with a canal scene behind him

Aidan found time to exlore Ningbo and neighbouring cities, and learn as much as he could about Chinese culture

I arrived in China in late November and got settled into my own apartment in the center of Ningbo’s cultural plaza – one of the new business districts of the city where luxury stores and night markets operate.

Ningbo is on the coast south of Shanghai in Zhejiang Province and is an  extremely large and modern city. It's technologically more advanced than many of the other cities I visited, which makes sense as Zhejiang is one of the wealthiest provinces in China.

I got to Ningbo a week before the internship was to begin, so had time to explore the city and neighboring cities, including Hangzhou. This gave me a chance to learn firsthand a little more about Chinese culture before starting at United Media Solution (UMS).

In Hangzhou, I visited a temple for the first time. It was interesting to explore more about the Buddhist side of Chinese culture. Many of the cultural practices I saw being practiced at this temple I encountered later during my internship experience, such as lighting incense sticks for good fortune.

Aidan: "My colleagues at United Media Solutions were amazing people who always had curiosity about myself and New Zealand..."

What initially attracted me to the UMS opportunity was the chance to expand on my university studies of Chinese culture and language into a practical real-world setting, and what better way to do that than live and work in China for three months?

Being able to work for one of the top digital marketing agencies for New Zealand businesses was also a massive draw, with many large international companies being key clients.  

My welcome into the office was a warm one. On our first day, everyone in the office went out to lunch with my fellow intern Brandon and I, and made us both feel extremely welcome. At that first lunch, we tried many local Ningbo seafood dishes, which were like nothing I had ever tried before, some great, some maybe not for me.

During my time with UMS, we did many team bonding activities including hikes around Sunming Lake and going out for dinners after work.  

My duties at UMS included creating a social media column to help promote company culture and brand to potential graduates in the future.

This process was a challenging one and required much learning as I had never created a video-format product before.

Throughout the process, I had to learn how to edit, write scripts, and create video structure, while also learning how to engage an audience and promote the brand to young adults in the best possible way.

Though it was challenging at first, it was also extremely rewarding as it gave me invaluable experience and new skills. I also helped on research projects for large marketing campaigns.

A beautiful thing about UMS is the flat hierarchy, which allows even the intern-level employees to give feedback and contribute ideas with a good chance of them being used.

My colleagues at United Media Solutions were amazing people who always had curiosity about myself and New Zealand, which was reciprocated through my ambition to learn about Chinese culture. Through this exchange of culture, we had great interactions and shared many laughs.

Every lunch I would go out to eat with members of the team. It was through these interactions that my Chinese language and cultural understanding really improved. 

In my own personal time, I was able to visit many temples, many shopping malls, and sing a lot of karaoke with friends. I was able to easily find myself a solid group of friends who I was able to rely on if I needed guidance.

I was also able to participate in other activities such as playing football with locals and attending professional basketball games. I even got to be an extra in a movie, which was a unique experience and opened my eyes to another side of Chinese culture.

The people I met while out and about are some of the fondest memories I have from my time in China because of the hospitality I received.

Aidan sitting at a table in a restaurant posing for a photo with a group of friends

Aidan made a close group of friends in Ningbo who he would frequently socialise with

This experience has motivated me to look more into Asia, more specifically China, to pursue my future career.

I now see myself working in China after graduation to further explore the culture - I was only able to touch upon a very small part of the country and there is so much more to do and see. 

If someone was to ask me if they should apply for this internship, I would sit them down and guide them through the application process myself. This internship has improved my knowledge of China tenfold, and I would encourage anyone with an interest in China to apply.

The Foundation's business programme supports New Zealand companies to better understand Asia so they can make the most of opportunities in the region. We are also focussed on growing the next generation of Asia-savvy business leaders.

Our internship programme helps interns build a better understanding of the people, place and culture of their Asian host country, while developing industry-specific skills that will benefit them as they progress in their careers.