Student Internship Experience in Xiamen C&D

Over the summer months of 2016, two WISE-SOE International Masters program students, Renatto Aguilar and Antonio Jackson undertook internships at Xiamen C&D, a large-scale industrial & investment enterprise group in the Fujian Province with a registered capital of RMB 4.5 billion Yuan. We asked them to share their internship experience with us.
 
Renatto Aguilar
 
*How did you get the internship?
 
In fact the internship appeared unexpectedly. One day I got an e-mail from my school stating that Xiamen C&D was looking for people from South America. I sent my resume and the company contacted me to schedule an interview. When I visited the company they explained that they were trying to expand Xiamen C&D’s South America operations, so they were looking for interns coming from this region. A couple days after the interview I received a phone call and they confirmed they were interested and that the internship could start after the completion of some formalities.
 
*What did you do?
 
Most of the time, I did market research. I investigated opportunities in South America: products, markets, restrictions, opportunities; in general terms, how to develop business in the region. Additionally, I contacted suppliers in other markets like Australia. Also, I worked on some internal procedures to import goods into China.
  
*What are the skills required for the internship?
 
Knowledge about trade, logistics and imports-exports is definitely a big plus. Knowing how to get information related to trade would help a lot to get your assignments done in a fast and efficient way. Not being able to speak Chinese is a problem but not a limitation. If you know the language, it is much easier to interact with the internal system and the people in the company.
 
*What are the most valuable things you learn from the internship?
 
I think the best part was to understand Chinese markets and operations from the inside. I mean, before, I was in charge of exports/imports to/from China so in the past I only got to know the operations outside Chinese Customs. This time I could know more about the business in China and how to trade goods with other countries.  
 
*Do you think this experience was valuable?
 
Of course it was. Besides learning more about Chinese markets and Chinese working-habits, I could practice what I learned from my studies. Not to mention that I also got to meet new friends.
 
*What advice would you give to students when they obtain internship as part of course credits requirement?
 
Take it seriously and get totally involved with the tasks given to you. Ask for help if you need it, try to propose ideas, be punctual, organized, pro-active and also have fun. Enjoy the internship and look at it as an opportunity to grow and learn.
 
*What was the company like? 
 
The company is very interesting. It has different areas so it is challenging to understand the whole operation. In terms of infrastructure and environment, it was very nice and organized as well, making it easy to work there every day. The people working with me were friendly and open to give help when I needed it.
 

 
Antonio Jackson
 
* How did you get the internship?
 
I first heard about the internship via an email sent out to international students in WISE-SOE. The email specifically asked for students from the US, Iraq, Iran, and South American countries and since I’m from the US I thought I would check it out! A few weeks after completing the application I received a call from C&D’s HR and they asked me to come in for an interview. The interview was especially daunting. I remember walking into a large conference room with one chair on one side and on the other there were approximately 12 seats, which were all filled.  Across from me there were 6 managers, 4 regular employees, and 2 members from HR. The internship was conducted about 70-30 in Chinese and English.
 
* What are the skills required attaining the internship?
 
For this internship one of the biggest advantages is being able to speak Chinese. Not only will it help in doing job related tasks but it also makes it easier to communicate with and build connections with coworkers. Another advantage would be having prior experience in the fields of supply chain management, trade, and logistics. There was a very steep learning curve with this position and I found myself having to do a lot of studying outside of work.
 
* What are the most valuable things you learn from the internship?
 
I learned about websites and tools that I can effectively use to conduct market research on a multitude of topics. I was able to use the internal contract signing system, ERP, to approve and review contracts and, most importantly, I received a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of a Chinese company's operations.
 
* Do you think this experience was valuable?
 
I think the experience was immensely valuable. Not only was I able to test and improve my Chinese ability, but I also was exposed to so much information regarding trading, logistics, and research. I really felt that the work I was doing was really beneficial to the company. If I could go back in time, I would definitely choose to do this internship again!
 
* What advice would you give to students when they obtain internship as part of course credits requirement?
 
I would implore students to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them during their internship and if they aren’t given a lot of opportunities, then they should be proactive and ask for them. Additionally, ask many questions!! Because if you don’t ask questions then how else will you learn?
 
* What did you do?
 
During my tenure at C&D, I worked in the company’s agriculture sector. At the start of the internship my primary task was to find Australian Oaten Hay suppliers that would ship to China. So after compiling a list of suppliers I emailed and talked to them about prices, product specifications, and availability. I was pleasantly surprised at how much authority we were given for this assignment, it was like we were actual employees. Following this project my next major assignment was market research. Initially in the South American fertilizer industry, but then this evolved into researching African markets, specifically tires, fertilizers, peanuts, electronics, ore and stainless steel. Nearly every week, I would have a meeting with the manager of the entire department to go over my findings. Between these two major assignments, I was also given many minor ones as well. These included editing memos for the office, reviewing purchasing contracts, learning about the ERP system, meeting with various international companies, and other minor tasks.
 
* What was the company like?
 
The company itself was really great and very welcoming! Every couple of weeks there would always be some office outing or event. For example, once we all went out to crawfish together and another time we had an office swim party. All in all, I sincerely felt a part of the team. 

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