"At the start of my internship, I was quite nervous, fearing the workplace might be too formal. However, I soon realized that my colleagues were incredibly friendly and supportive. I felt genuinely welcomed working there," Toh Yenn Pei said of Kr Star Innovation, a startup service provider in Beijing where she interned this summer,
Toh is from Malaysia, currently a junior student at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, majoring in finance. Her friend Daria Fateeva, from Russia, who studies international economics and trade at the same university, was also an intern at the company, working at its accounting department as an assistant.
The two are among many hundreds of international students enjoying the benefits of the internship program initiated by the China International Youth Exchange Center. Since the start of its operation three years ago, this program has created lots of career opportunities for budding global talents in China, offering a wide range of professional positions at nearly 200 companies.
At Kr Star Innovation, Toh helped manage the ledger of the company's office leasing business, a no small task for a workplace rookie. But she was determined to learn. And there is another motive for her determination. Back in Kuala Lumpur, Toh's parents run a self-service laundry and a small food factory. "I've always been eager to learn advanced business management skills in China so that I can help the family businesses in the future," she said.
It wasn’t easy going at first. The ledger files were dauntingly complex, some with strange titles and even stranger data. She could read the words but had no idea of their specific meaning, nor how to go about them. "The school didn't teach you how to manage a company ledger, let alone telling you how each file should be designed and named," she said bashfully.
But experience is the best teacher and there is no shortcut faster than that. So Toh buckled down and gradually got the hang of it. The ledger she realized was not just a collection of random numbers, but an important reference for market analysis and performance review and a vital basis for company decision-making and process optimization.
“I realized how important it was for the company's operations,” Toh said. “I've also learned that real-life work can be quite different from classroom study. But it's these differences that give me a broader perspective and valuable experience,”
Daria Fateeva said she felt very lucky to be able to get the internship. She had heard many good words from friends who had worked there. Her responsibilities at Kr Star Innovation were more diverse and no less challenging. She helped keeping track of the company’s income and expenses, making sure the bank statements match up, organizing invoices and receipts, and creating financial reports like balance sheets and cash flow statements.
One of Daria’s initial worries were that her Chinese skills weren’t proficient enough. But her colleagues were very friendly, always willing to help her, sometimes even before she had asked. Over time her Chinese vocabulary and proficiency grew. So did her confidence.
"I’ve truly learned a lot from this internship, both in terms of professional experience and communication skills. I’m very glad to be a member of such a diverse and inclusive team," Daria said.
Toh Yenn Pei's parents in Kuala Lumpur were overjoyed by the news of her internship in China. The family lineage could be traced to coastal Nan'an in South China’s Fujian province. Every year her father would go back there to pay tribute to their ancestors during Qingming, the Tomb-Sweeping Festival.
"China is my homeland, and I have a special sense of belonging here," Toh said.
She also participated in the company's various cultural activities to gain insights into its corporate culture. "I’ve noticed that the team really values innovation and collaboration, which are qualities I believe a successful company should possess," she said, adding that she plans to use the knowledge and experience she gained during her internship to improve the management and operation of her family business in Kuala Lumpur.
As for Daria, she also has a clear career plan. She wants to work as a financial analyst or supply chain manager in China. For that goal, she plans to attend professional training to further enhance her skills in the field. "The Chinese market is full of possibilities and challenges, and that really gets me excited," she said.
Gao Wenjun contributed to this story.