Internship is not only an important part of learning process, but also a useful experience
In 2019 the Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg) signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian-Chinese Business Park (RCBP). Students of the Master Programme “Business and Politics in Modern Asia” showed interest in the new partner of the University and many of them wanted to do an internship at the RCBP, one of the students even defended his Master thesis based on the data obtained during the internship in the Business Park.
We decided to find out the opinion of Olga Borgolova, a second-year student of the MA Programme “Business and Politics in Modern Asia”.
Olga, you just finished the first course of the Master Programme “Business and Politics in Modern Asia” and you have already had chance to have an internship at the Russia-China Business Park. Why you decided to take part in this kind of internship?
To my mind, an internship is both great chance and challenge, so taking part in this sort of activity always pushes you forward. I also think it is quite necessary when we are talking about master’s degree students because they have to get some practical experience in order to make a decision about future career. I wanted to try out myself as well as get deeper into professional realm.
What were your main functions and responsibility?
I made various types of analysis: from news context to market prices. Besides, I made some translations, made phone calls to consult clients (Russian food producers), and the most important I learned the specifics, rules of the international trade, bilateral trade between Russia and China, logistics and laws.
What skills are needed to work in the Russian-Chinese Business Park?
Both hard and soft skills are included. Languages (English, Chinese), critical thinking, ability to conduct research and analysis, communication and negotiation skills, copywriting and story-telling. I’d like to notice, that our master’s program does help to improve these skills.
What experience did you get in the Russian-Chinese Business Park? Could you please name some interesting projects you participated in?
The practice-oriented experience. I got knowledge about the ultimate rules of international trade and logistics, witnessed the specifics of doing business with Chinese (I just listened about them during classes before the internship), improved Chinese a bit. Basically, we worked on a project dedicated to opening an expo in China. The idea was to promote Russian food and beverage products in South Chinese cities, help procedures to entry the Chinese market, assist them with import-export legal procedures and other aspects like protection of their intellectual property rights. My zone of responsibility was related to assisting a particular producer of pasta. I would say I was leading the producer through the jungles of procedures and specifics of doing business in China. That was amazing, not easy at all, but it brought me a lot.
Would you advise other students studying Chinese to have an internship in the Russian-Chinese Business Park?
Definitely! However, if a person has a desire to try this internship, English is also enough. The Business park gives opportunities and tasks to work on projects without speaking Chinese. The aspects of working there are rather broad, so I suppose students, who are interested in Chinese stuff but have not started leaning Chines yet, would find the internship interesting and useful anyway.
Do you think internship is useful discipline for the student?
I do. As I’ve already mentioned the practice-oriented experience and testing yourself are crucial and allow a student to put his/herself through the real stuff.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, first is to get the second years done, then get employed. There is a possibility of me applying to the PhD program at HSE.
In addition to the students of the Master Programme “Business and Politics in Modern Asia”, students of other educational programs can also do an internship at the Russian-Chinese Business Park, as did the bachelor's student of the Oriental Studies Programme Martina Stepanova. We decided to ask Martina about her experience of interacting with RCBP.
Martina, why are you interested in China in general, and business relations with Chinese partners in particular?
Relations between China and Russia are now in the most favorable phase. This attracts an increasing number of tourists and businessmen from China to our country, and business ties are being established. They also bring elements of their culture with them: I believe that the ancient culture of China is very interesting, I like to study traditions and language, features of the national mentality, and other aspects, in order to understand how modern China thinks, what it strives for, and how to come to a successful interaction with it. Business relations with China, in my opinion, have great prospects.
What is your general impression about Russian-Chinese Business Park? Do you consider it is an effective project?
The overall impression is rather positive: I can say for sure that this site can be called the most large-scale in our city, there are many areas for further development in the Business Park.
How do you think such projects contribute to the development of business relations between Russian and Chinese partners?
They have a positive impact on improving Russian-Chinese business relationships and improving the business climate in general. For everyone who starts working with China, this is a good experience and practice of the language.
Did you gain useful experience there? Could you recommend Russian-Chinese Business Park to students as a place for internship?
Yes, I gain useful experience. Unfortunately, during my years of study, there was no agreement between the University and the Business Park, so I had to look for it myself. At the moment, the agreement has appeared, so, of course, it will be a good place for internship for everyone who studies Chinese and want to work with China in the business sphere.