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Overseas internships gaining popularity
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How to get an overseas internship

There are mainly three channels for Chinese students to get an overseas internship: AIESEC, intermediary agents and universities.

"There were five people getting overseas internships through our organization in 2004, the number for 2006 was around 60 and in 2007, it increased to more than 100," said Wang Bo, president of the AIESEC Peking University Branch.

AIESEC, short name for Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, is a non-profit transnational organization run independently by students. Through the organization's online database, students from all over the world can make two-way choices with companies and non-governmental organizations (NGO) to get overseas internships.

It was established in 1948 as students in Europe thought there was a lack of links between different nations and peoples after the Second World War and hoped to work in another country for a period of time to facilitate mutual understanding.

So far, AIESEC has set up branches in more than 100 countries and regions. Country branches are composed of qualified domestic universities. The China branch now has more than 30 universities as members. The Peking University branch was set up in 2002.

If a student wants to join a university branch of AIESEC, there are generally two rounds of interviews and another round will be needed if he or she wants to work overseas through the organization.

In the third round, the interviewers will be officials from the China branch of AIESEC. "The interview will be conducted in English to test the interviewees' language level and to see whether they are capable of living in a foreign country. We need also to find out what his purpose is for applying an internship," said Wang Bo. "For example, if a student wants a volunteership, we have to see whether he is really interested in the work he applies for."

Students who pass the third-round interviews put their resumes into AIESEC's global matching system. They need also pay 2500 yuan to AIESEC (500 yuan as deposit and the rest for the daily operations of AIESEC headquarters and branches). Enterprises and NGOs will search for the right persons through the system and interview them by telephone.

Liu He, a second-year graduate student in Renmin University of China, was one who got an overseas internship through AIESEC's global matching system.

Both parties were very prudent regarding their choices. Liu He chose a software consulting company in India's "Silicon Valley" Bangalore because it is a large company with subsidiaries in Singapore, Germany and the US. It is also a partner with IBM and has been cooperating with AIESEC for five years.

He was phone-interviewed twice by the company before getting the offer for English-Japanese interpretation.

The first time Liu was interviewed by a senior manager of the company and the conversation was all in English. And the second time it was a Japanese client in order to test Liu's Japanese level. Liu studied Japanese as his second foreign language and he understood 80 percent of the conversation.

An internship generally lasts from two months to one year. Interns have to pay for their round-trip airfares and local AIESEC branches will arrange accommodations. They will get paid if they work in companies but their work will be voluntary in NGOs but the latter will take care of their room and board.

For the other two channels of overseas internships, universities usually send students who display excellent academic performances for overseas internships and the number is very limited. Therefore, intermediary agents have become a popular choice for students.

Intermediary agent N.E. Company introduced the overseas internship program in 2006 and has since obtained internships for over 20 students. The company secures overseas internships by providing services to Chinese subsidiaries of foreign enterprises and NGOs.

It will sign agreements with foreign enterprises regarding trainings designed for interns and will inform the students what their jobs will be in the foreign companies.

N.E. usually charges 5000 yuan from a student for this service.

According to data provided by intermediary agents, the majority who apply for overseas internships are sophomore, junior and senior students and also some graduate students.

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