It all starts with a cup of coffee. I was worried coming to China that coffee shops would be few and far between, but I should have known near the bustling business district there’s a café on every corner. Bless. My co-workers often meet in the morning and grab an espresso before beginning the day, a sacred office ritual. From there we get down to business.
As I am in charge of the project management for my office, I immediately begin to ask for updates from my co-workers every morning. Sometimes this process is the most difficult task I have for the day. No one likes to be interrogated before their office chairs are even warm.
The majority of my responsibilities are comprised of market research. Nearly every day I’m sent a new company to research so our business proposals are well-informed and tailored specifically to the individual organization. You wouldn’t believe how much I’ve learned about the Chinese wine market, the popularity of Steph Curry, and even different varieties of honey.
My favorite part of my internship is lunch. Haha, but really, it’s a family matter. I love taking an hour break (sometimes longer if the boss comes) where my co-workers and I can shed the lingering professionalism and get to know each other around food. More than anything, it has allowed our guanxi to flourish and bonded us more quickly than I would have expected. We recently had someone move on to bigger and better things, and although I only knew her for three weeks, we regularly WeChat one another and are making plans for her to come visit me in Gainesville. In fact, she came from her new job at the Hungarian Embassy to have lunch with me today.
I’ve heard beautiful stories of napping pods and couch rooms at Chinese companies, my only regret with working at an Australian run office. Instead we buy liquid sleep after lunch: more coffee. Besides my struggle with passing out at my desk after a huge family style meal, I’ve also struggled with thinking my work is Good Enough. Every time I send an email with a project attached, I have a mini anxiety attack. And every time I get feedback, it’s just what my boss was looking for. My confidence has already grown leaps and bounds while in China and I’m figuring out that when in doubt – ask.