Maybe they'll stay
Chinese companies, both State-owned and private, also are interested in foreign interns. Zhao Hongwei, head of communications at ChinaHR, a leading online recruitment service, told China Daily that many State-owned enterprises are consulting with his service about interns.
Zhao mentioned finance and banking, but declined to give a number or identify any companies. However, he said the number has risen every year, especially since the international financial crisis in 2008, because Chinese State-owned companies are basically free from layoffs.
"These companies are still in a booming stage and are in dire need of talent. Therefore, they are very happy to have some internationally high-end people, like those from MIT, Harvard and Cambridge, or some prestigious business schools like Wharton, even for a short time," he said.
"And they are usually very serious about such internships, more thoughtful in reviewing resumes and providing training, because in most cases they want to keep these interns as full-time employees."
Some industry insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cautioned that some Chinese companies are simply "buying" these students' exotic names and faces to diversify their personnel and make their international businesses seem more international.
Easier would help
Ratcliffe and her fellow interns at China.org.cn came to China through their school programs and the support of the Chinese company. With help from their Chinese colleagues, they say, they have adjusted to living in Beijing rather easily.
But there's nothing easy about renewing a tourist visa, a "painful" process full of paperwork that includes setting up a Bank of China account with a $3,000 deposit. It's an inevitable process that many foreign interns must endure, sometimes twice.
Ask Audrey Broadway, 21, a senior student in public relations and hospitality and tourism management at Appalachian State University. Although her internship lasts just two months, Broadway was granted only 30 days' stay on her tourist visa. She will spend more than two months in Beijing and other Chinese cities, so must renew her visa twice, each time at a cost of about 940 yuan ($145).
Buying travel tickets within China also can be difficult for US tourists with American credit cards, she said. Chinese airlines often offer cheaper domestic flights compared with those from American airlines, but they won't accept credit cards from US tourists in China. Broadway needed a Chinese friend's help to buy the tickets.
"I feel that China is going to be a major part of a tourism industry that's going to be more international," she said.
"The Summer Palace, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City - people (in the US) know these places. I think eventually they are going to make their way over here and see it."
It could be easier for them, Broadway said. "Maybe the Chinese airlines can accept American credit cards too, so that could increase travel and profit."
Li Sixiao contributed to this report.
(China Daily June 17, 2011)