Making it work
Audrey Broadway, 21, is a senior studying public relations and hospitality and tourism management at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She has a two-month internship in the website. [Wang Jing / China Daily]
Even so, internships abroad cost more than those at home. Most are unpaid, although some foreign interns receive an allowance of about $800 to $1,000 a month, higher than their Chinese counterparts.
Ratcliffe's internship provides no such allowance, yet she considers it an investment. "I find it's worthwhile. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
When her internship is over after five more weeks, Ratcliffe will return to the United States to start job-hunting. As for future job opportunities in China, "I'm open to them, but right now they are not on my radar."
Overseas experience is attractive not only for fresh graduates without working experience. Andrea Albright, 30, who had worked full time for five years, came to China in May when her husband's employer transferred him.
She talked with her network in the US before leaving and got an internship at the Beijing office of Dewey & LeBoeuf, a US-based law firm. Just graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota in May, Albright said the internship adds a unique experience to her resume.
Her internship is unpaid, but Albright has her own way to make it through. "I teach English on the weekend, for 200 yuan every 1 hours."
That gives her a monthly income of 1,600 yuan, which pays for food and transportation. Her husband's job covers their housing, which is a major expense.
Foreign government offices have introduced similar programs. One is the Global Fellowship Program, a six-week summer project funded by the United Kingdom.
Tailored for high school graduates 18 and 19 years old, the program was designed to be a comprehensive journey, covering three phases: Chinese language, school placement and work placement, the most challenging part. Participants in China intern with such UK-based enterprises as B&Q, a furniture company; KPMG, accounting; and HSBC, banking.
The program, which was started in 2008, each year sends 100 students selected from across the UK to one of three rising countries - China, India and Brazil. The largest number of students, 40, come to China every year.
"The response has been overwhelming," said Zhang Liting, an education project officer of the British Council in Shanghai, the partner to the UK government in delivering the program.
"During the first year, the applicants barely outnumbered the actual participants. But in the second year, the number soon climbed to 400. And last year, more than 800 students applied for it," Zhang said.
In addition to different corporate cultures and possible job opportunities as benefits, Zhang suggested that such a program allows students to better see themselves as "global citizens" and to learn firsthand about the social, economic and environmental impacts of globalization.
"Many students who have come here acclaimed it as a life-changing experience," Zhang said. "It will not only be a highlight on their resume, but more in their life history."