How Would You Like To Start An Exciting Internship At A Hot Company in Shanghai in the Next 10 Weeks, Guaranteed?
My partner Mike and I have a combined 11 years of experience on the ground in China, and now help ambitious young students and recent graduates just like you get life-changing internships in Shanghai.
If we accept you as a client we guarantee you an internship offer or you pay us nothing.
NOTE: IF YOU JUST WANT AN INTERNSHIP AND DON'T NEED HOUSING, AIRPORT PICKUP, OR SUPPORT, CHECK OUT OUR SOLO SHANGHAI PACKAGE. OTHERWISE, KEEP READING.
A Slow Economy is the "New Normal"...
I know that it can be a little bit scary to be a recent grad these days.
You have spent years studying so that you can get a great job. You have sacrificed and worked your butt off and done what everyone told you to do.
All you want is to earn a living, and hopefully, change the world for the better.
And now you are out of school (or about to be) and comes this new little voice in your head...
- What if I don't get a job?
- What if I do get a job? Does that mean I don't get to travel for more than 2 weeks out of the year? No thanks!
- I have a job.. now what? Is this my life for the next 30 years?
I know how you feel because I was exactly where you sit a little while back...
It was 2008 and the economy was falling to pieces around me.
Recent graduates everywhere were unemployed.
Or if they weren't, they were working a dead-end service job. History majors were asking, "Would you like whip cream with your Frappuccino?"
There were janitors with PhDs.
And even those who had "good jobs" still seemed pretty darn unhappy, but they couldn't complain because, "Hey, a job's a job."
The Great Recession had begun and I was just graduating university.
In the middle of this Global Financial Crisis, China looked really good. Rapid economic growth. Abundant jobs. Low cost of living. So, in late 2008, I left home with a one-way ticket.
No, I didn't work my way into the corner office in a year. And nobody looked at my degree in English and offered me a six figure salary, though that would've been nice.
But I did find gainful employment, and by the age of 25 I was working in management at a web design agency in one of the most exciting cities in the world: Shanghai.
Instead of becoming a barista, I was building my resume and traveling the world in my spare time.
And now, nearly 6 years since I first came here, I want to help you do what I did for myself: Begin a meaningful career while living life to the fullest in one of the most interesting cities in the world.
Why Shanghai is the new "Land of Opportunity"
You may have heard Shanghai referred to as an "economic hot spot" or a "land of opportunity". You have also probably heard the 21st century referred to as "The Chinese Century."
But you are probably asking yourself, "How can I take advantage of this?"
The first step is asking yourself a simple question:
What am I passionate about?
Whatever your passion is, you need to position yourself to capitalize on it.
You need to be in a city where THEY NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
Shanghai is that place.
Now, I don't want to paint an overly optimistic picture of working in China. It has MANY CHALLENGES which I will tell you about below.
But for all the challenges of working here, this country continues to grow rapidly and there is no better way to get in on the action than with an internship.
China's economy continues to grow so rapidly, in fact, that by 2018, it will be bigger than that of the United States.
This means that companies are hiring throughout China.
And at the center of China's "economic miracle" is Shanghai, the China headquarters for over 60 multinationals, and literally thousands of SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises).
What Kash says about working in Shanghai
"Internships are a great way to get your foot through the door and connect with the business community & learn the skills you'll need to set yourself apart from the rest of the growing, skilled job pool for locals and expats in China."
So What About the Lifestyle?
What do you look for in a city?
Whatever you want, I'll bet that Shanghai has it.
It really does have "something for everyone".
Shanghai is the most cosmopolitan city in China, the financial capital of a country where, as someone once described it,
"Every day you see something you don't see everyday."
There are 24 million people living here, but strolling through a quiet lane in the French Concession, you wouldn't know it. You might even think you are in 19th century Paris.
That is, until you hit one of Shanghai's 329 metro stations, which are connected by 14 separate lines.
Hop onto the metro, take it from the middle of downtown to SmartIntern's apartment complex (only 2 stops away!) and you'll realize:
Shanghai is a seriously convenient city.
The subway is great- one of the best in Asia- but I recommend a bike. The city is simply too interesting to explore in any other way.
Cabs are good too. They are abundant and inexpensive - I rarely spend more than $5 on one.
And that same $5 can easily buy you two dinners at one of Shanghai's many local restaurants.
You don't need to break your bank to experience one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities.
Don't get me wrong, if you want to splurge you will have PLENTY of opportunities.
But for under $1 you'll always be able to get a breakfast of Shanghai's specialty: soup dumplings, or xiaolong bao (小笼包) in Chinese.
Try that in New York. Or London.
So if you want to hole up, speak only Chinese, and live off $2 noodles, Shanghai is great for that.
But the minute you want a taste of your hometown- whether big burgers or fish and chips or foie gras- you've got that too.
Another great thing about Shanghai is its convenience as a jumping off point to explore other destinations..
You can take the high speed rail to Beijing in under 5 hours.
An hour outside of the city you will find "Shanghai's Venice", the 1700 year old Zhujiajiao Water Town (we'll take you here on a tour).
From one of Shanghai's two airports you can fly to Japan, Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong in around 2 hours. Direct to Thailand- the "Gateway to Southeast Asia"- is 4 hours.
But it's not as easy as you think...
So if Shanghai is such a great place, with economic opportunities and a great big city lifestyle, what's the catch?
Well, it's not ALL good.
There is a pretty big language barrier. And even if your Mandarin is good, you'll find that many of Shanghai's locals prefer communicating in Shanghainese.
And in addition to the language barrier, there are some pretty substantial cultural differences.
You'll learn that sticking your chopsticks in rice vertically is unlucky, as is the number 4.
And while the pollution is nowhere near as bad as in Beijing, Shanghai does have problems with smog.
After all, 20 million people burn a lot of energy. And sometimes those 20 million people can make parts of the city feel crowded and pushy. And sometimes noisy.
You don't get a 10% annual growth rate without a bit of noise.
And in spite of its economic activity, finding the right job in Shanghai isn't easy. It's actually pretty hard.
You have competition from bright foreigners just like yourself, who recognize the opportunity that China offers and are now flocking there in the thousands.
You have competition from Chinese students returning from studying and working overseas- they are bilingual and at least as hungry as you are for success.
China's government is now also prioritizing domestic hires over foreign ones, and as more and more Chinese are receiving overseas educations, the "talent gap" between foreign expats and local Chinese is closing fast.
Visas are another issue altogether, but in a word, they are mafan (麻烦), or "bothersome" in English.
With all this competition, there is one thing you can do to get your "foot in the door".
How I Figured Out How to Open Doors in China
There wasn't an aha moment when I figured this all out.
I learned it gradually, during my first 5 years of living and working in China.
The lesson really began when I was 24 and accepted a dead-end job in Shenzhen, the city in southern China where I was living at the time.
I shouldn't have taken it, but I was nervous about my career prospects in China, and went with one of the first offers I received after beginning my job search. Most people would refer to this as a "rookie mistake".
The salary was nice but the prospects for career advancement weren't. I was going nowhere fast.
I realized I need to make a change, and a year later I moved to Shanghai.
When I got here, I wrote everyone I knew. I networked constantly, and applied to countless jobs. I worked my butt off full-time to find a full-time job.
It wasn't easy, but I started to receive offers. Many of them were for internships.
At 25, I felt like I was "too old" for an internship. I ended up in a great job (in the web design company I wrote about earlier), but I also started to notice a pattern.
My friend working at Coca Cola Shanghai? He had started with an internship.
My other friend in a biz dev role at a global real estate broker? He too had begun with an internship.
Even my partner here at SmartIntern, Mike, started working in Shanghai with an internship.
A part of me began to think, "Where would I be if I would have started my career in China with an internship at a great corporation?"
You see, when I first arrived in China, I felt entitled to at least an entry-level position.
An internship seemed beneath me - I was more focused on "earning" than "learning".
Ironically, I learned A LOT with this mindset. Mostly, what not to do.
I WASTED hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in real money and opportunity cost pursuing the wrong job opportunities.
I ran headfirst into more pitfalls, time sinks, and dead ends than I care to remember.
Do I regret doing things the way I did? No, because I have incorporated used these hard-won lessons to help SmartIntern customers find better internships, faster.
But could I have saved a lot of time and money by entrusting my search for the right job in China to a company that was better connected and more knowledgeable than I was at the time?
To Succeed in Shanghai, Minimize Risk
It is my job to convince you that Shanghai is a great place to gain work experience. And I truly believe it is. Otherwise I wouldn't have started SmartIntern.
But here's the truth:
There is no surefire way to build a great career in China.
It is an unpredictable and challenging country to get ahead in.
I have seen many foreigners burn out here firsthand.
I'm not going to tell you that an internship in Shanghai is going to magically get you a job when you return home.
Does it help you stand out?
But the key is getting an internship where you are going to learn a lot, not just fetch coffee (or tea).
You need to minimize the risk that you are going to be placed in a dead-end internship with no long-term prospects..
..The risk that you aren't going to learn all that much..
..Or the risk that you are going to invest your own TIME and MONEY into searching for the right internship, and not find it at all.
I created SmartIntern to help you avoid this risk by finding the right internship.
The internships that we offer have limited downside and almost unlimited upside.
For one, we guarantee you placement in an internship if you are accepted into our program. If we can't place you, we will refund your money in full.
And there's a good chance you will be offered a job following your internship.
In fact, we have an internal goal of 50% of our interns being offered full-time jobs upon completion of their internships.
And unlike some of our competitors, we won't take any of your salary if you are later hired by the company where you did your internship.
If you just want to come to China for a few months, intern, and then return home? That's cool too. You'll have a REALLY INTERESTING bullet point on your resume that will help distinguish you from the hundreds (maybe thousands) of other recent graduates competing for your position.
So whether you want to embark on a global career, or just have a life-changing summer experience, Shanghai is the place to do it.
What kind of company can we place you in?
"Mike and Brandon are two classy guys who went above and beyond the services I signed up for. I couldn't be happier with my decision to go with SmartIntern."
"I wasn’t putting a lot of hope into finding an internship that is related to psychology, as it is not a popular field in China."
"However, it took less than one month before SmartIntern found me a good fit- thank you so much!" If a potential client was on the fence about whether to work with SmartIntern or not, I’d say, “Go talk to Brandon! He will find you a way!”
Introducing the Gold Standard of Internships in Shanghai:
Our internship program is designed so that you can focus on your internship and living your life in Shanghai to the fullest without worrying about any of the big stuff like housing, airport pickup, finding a place to learn Chinese, or where to meet new friends.
Of course, the most important feature of the program is the internship itself. Your internship will be set in a company in Shanghai that genuinely needs you to contribute, not just sit back and relax.
In addition to you guaranteed internship, you'll also get:
- An easy transition to China: We'll pick you up at the airport, host a welcome meal for you, and make sure you have 24/7 support. You focus on making an impact at your company and enjoying Shanghai, and we'll take care of the details. Deal?
- A furnished apartment smack dab in city center with roommates who will make your time in Shanghai memorable. Located right by a major metro stop, you’ll be able to minimize your morning commute.
- Accelerated Chinese learning with an entire year of access to over 2,000 digital Mandarin Chinese lessons, meaning you can master Chinese on your own terms- anytime, anywhere!
We also give you a suite of career and personal development tools that you can’t get anywhere else:
- A monthly Mastermind Call, where everyone shares their experiences and challenges in China, motivates one another, and strengthens bonds that we hope will last a lifetime. We also periodically invite successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople in Shanghai to join us on these calls and share their wisdom.
- Access to over 2,000 digital Chinese lessons- you'll be able to take them with you wherever you go to improve your Mandarin! Whether you're on the subway, on your lunch break, or traveling through the countryside, they're a perfect way to brush up on your language skills.
- LinkedIn Optimization- Did we tell you that we work side-by-side with you to create a LinkedIn profile and resume that effectively communicates your personal brand, your experience, and what you stand for to potential employers?
Our success comes from pairing ongoing career training with hand-selected internships in China. Everything you receive from SmartIntern will be customized to YOU and your unique situation.
And in addition to everything above, our Supported Shanghai Internship Program also comes with all of the below offerings:
Housing in City Center
Shanghai Event Calendar
Certificate of Completion
Select the program that's right for you
Solo Shanghai Program
- Guaranteed Internship Placement
- Access to our suite of over 2,000 digital Chinese lessons
- China Living Guide
- Visa Assistance
- Only $1295 USD
Only 11 Spots Remaining
Supported Shanghai Program
$2,995 USD for the First Month
Only $1,200 USD Each Additional Month
- Guaranteed Internship Placement
- Visa Assistance
- Housing in City Center and 24/7 Security
- Airport Pickup and Welcome Dinner
- Access to our suite of over 2,000 digital Chinese lessons
- Mandarin Chinese Handbook
- China Living Guide
- SIM, Transport and Business Cards
- Monthly Mastermind
- Certificate of Completion
- $2,995 USD for the First Month
- Only $1,200 USD Each Additional Month
What Kind of Global Citizens are we Looking for?
We want you to join our program because you:
- Are young, resourceful, and forward thinking.
- Are a hustler, a go-getter, a high flyer, hungry, industrious, ambitious, self-starting or just really cool.
- Want to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT while gaining valuable experience.
- Understand the value of experience in China to your career and personal growth.
- Probably also like meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and traveling.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
I have no experience in China and don't speak Chinese- can I still do this?
Definitely! If you have no experience in China, it just means that you'll have more new things to learn and experience. And while being able to speak Mandarin Chinese will give you more opportunities, it isn't essential.
I'm not sure if I can afford this!
Compared to other major world cities, Shanghai is a bargain. If you take an internship in London or New York, you'll likely be spending close to $1,000 USD every month for rent alone.
Also, keep in mind that many of SmartIntern's customers go on to receive full-time job offers following their internship.
You may also qualify for a scholarship from your university as well, and we can work with you to structure a payment plan that fits your schedule.
Are you the cheapest internship provider in China?
We aren't the cheapest. If you want the cheapest service available, we probably aren't the right fit.
After living in China (which remains, in spite of its recent growth, a developing country) for over a decade combined, we truly believe that you get what you pay for.
If you go with the cheapest internship provider, you'll find that they are either a high-volume operation that rotates literally thousands of interns into the same positions year after year or a company that isn't going to devote many resources into placing you in the right position because it needs to preserve its low margins. At SmartIntern, we do neither. We are a boutique agency where upper management get involved every day in matching clients with the right positions.
What if I don’t get placed in an internship?
If you don’t get placed in an internship then we’ll refund your money in full. The risk is entirely with us.
Why don't I just find an internship on my own?
You can! I have received dozens of job offers, both solicited and unsolicited, in China in the six years I have lived here.
Getting an internship in Shanghai comes down to 3 things: time, money, and connections.
If you aren't very busy and have lots of free time, you can probably find an internship on your own. It might be a good one, it might not be. Not all internships are created equal, and we at SmartIntern are using our thousands of hours of experience (literally!) researching, interviewing, and working with companies in the Shanghai area to filter the good from the bad for you. For both myself and my partner Mike, finding the right job in Shanghai was a frustrating experience, and we like to think that we have run into our share of dead ends and walls so you don't have to.
If you have more money than you have time, or your connections in China are limited, than we might be a good fit.
I'd also encourage you to think of the time it will take you to find an internship on your own. How much is an hour of your time worth?
$10? $20? $50? More?
The number doesn't matter, just have one in mind.
Now think of the hours it will take for you to arrange housing.
And to find the right internship.
And to figure out where to study Chinese.
And to get a letter of invite for your visa.
You get the picture- these things add up, and at some point it's easier and more effective to have somebody else do it for you.
This might not be the right time for me:
There will never be a perfect time.
There will always be a reason not to travel overseas. There will always be a family member who wants you to stay home, or a summer class that you should probably take.
There will always be an excuse. And excuses will only multiple as you grow older.
If you are thinking about an internship in China, don't talk yourself out of it.
I don't even care if you go with one of SmartIntern's competitors. I just want you to come experience China at what is one of the most exciting times in its 5,000 year history. It is in the middle of the largest industrial revolution in the history of mankind- how cool is that?
And if you decide not to come to China, fine. Go to Vietnam. Or Kenya. There are plenty of fascinating countries in the world. Just go somewhere and do something that you are going to remember for the rest of your life.
You won't regret it.