By Lavisha Dayaram – Associate Consultant, Sales & Marketing Recruitment, Links International Hong Kong
Over the years, there have been increasing numbers of students in Hong Kong spending their summers doing internships.
They graduate from school, get into university and ensure they do as many internships as possible until they enter the real world.
More often than not, it is difficult to find internship opportunities in Hong Kong, especially if you are unable to speak Cantonese or Mandarin. However, if an internship comes your way, it is extremely important to take all the experience you can get. Without this experience, you will be questioning what it is you truly enjoy doing and therefore ultimately make it more difficult to choose your career path. An ideal count for internships completed before graduating is three to four. If you have these internships on your CV, you are certainly at an advantage – of course, in hopes that they have positively impacted your career decision.
Before beginning an internship, there are a few things that you must consider in order to gain as many benefits as you can.
- Are there any languages required for the internship?
There are 15+ international schools in Hong Kong, which allows us to have a lot of diversity in our metropolitan city. However, not all of these students speak Cantonese and Mandarin, regardless of courses offered at school. Without knowledge of these languages, it may be tough for some to get an internship here, seeing as Chinese has become increasingly used in companies around Hong Kong. Of course, you can’t learn a language overnight. Therefore, it is good to be proactive and be aware beforehand that you have all the languages that are required for the potential internship.
- How much do you actually know about the field? Because of the difficulty in obtaining an internship, some students are thrilled when they receive an opportunity from any company. Therefore, they do not hesitate to jump at any chance they get. While this is good in theory, it is also beneficial for students to do research prior to the internship, whether it is on the potential company or possibly even the field as a whole. Never go in blindly!
- Does this internship have to be relevant to what you are studying at university? Only 50% of college graduates end up working in the field they studied at university. University gives you a ground base from which you can grow as you get older and gain more experience. You learn more hands-on experiences when you enter the work field, and you can utilise some of your university knowledge for this. However, it is not always required that your work field pertains to your major – it’s always great to branch out!
- Are you going to get the experience you deserve? As stated earlier, it is never a good idea to go into an internship blindly. Networking has become very important, and building as many connections as you can. Engage with older friends who work in the specific field you are interested in and try to understand what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – that’s what people are there for. For example, if you are thinking about going into the recruitment field, ask a friend who works in recruitment in Hong Kong for advice from an insider’s point of view. If you are going into the medical field, you won’t be able to do surgery the first day of course, but you might choose to enquire about shadowing a superior. Talk to anybody – you never know where an internship or even a job opportunity could arise.
- Is this the kind of workplace environment you want to work in? At an internship, you ideally will be spending eight to nine hours a day from Monday to Friday there. Find out what type of workplace environment is for you. It is possible that the 9-5 working day isn’t for you and you’re looking for less, or even more of a challenge. You have to be comfortable in the environment you’re going to be working in as that will be your second home.
- Can you ensure that you will step out of your comfort zone? The one thing that will help you the most in any internship is stepping out of your comfort zone. Attempt to meet people from different departments and teams – network and learn more about them. You never know what you can find out and how this may help to develop your future career!
Internships are there to help you learn more about yourself and prepare you for the future. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and remember, all that matters is that you enjoy yourself and learn something new that will add more depth to your CV and make you more employable. Step out of your comfort zone and meet different people – you never know until you try!
To talk to one of our recruitment specialists in Hong Kong to find out how we can help you take your career to the next level, whether you are a university student, a fresh graduate or have 10+ years’ working experience, please do not hesitate to contact us.