China mnc internships - what they will never tell you

The urge to jump on a plane and seek out a new international career in China via a MNC internship is growing irresistable. Let's face it, China owns the world's fastest growing economy and will soon surpass America as number one within the next five years if the current growth rate continues. China is also home to the hottest job market in the world for foreigners, especially managers and executives. So when we see ads for China internships we grow excited and reach for the phone or grab the mouse and start clicking away for applications.

But stop! Are you really prepared to relocate your life 5,000 miles away to a strange new land and culture, learn a new language, and work like a slave for pennies on the dollars just to have a chance to win a chance at grabbing a slice of the MNC pie? If its really so easy, why isn't everyone learning Chinese in uni? Are China MNC internships really anything more than a 90 day lottery? Let's be real friends...there's always a downside for every upside. So what's the real dish on China internships?

Here is what most employers will never tell you about your China Internship...


  • You are probably competing with one or two other interns for the same job. Why? Because they want to "try before they buy" their job candidate and they also know a well-hidden secret... Half of all interns get recruited for full time jobs with other companies they meet through their internship. This link gives a perfect example: [1]


  • You will not get paid a salary while you are in China because it is against the law to pay a wage to interns in China! If they like you however and they plan to keep you on as an employee, you will regularly find a "hong bao" (red envelope) with $500 or $1,000 in it in your desk draw once a month. Nobody will ever know how it got there but your name will be written on it along with the words "Xie Xie" (Thank you).


  • Most cities in China shut down at 11:00pm except on weekends so your party life will be limited to two days a week as even the buses and subways shut down every night - even in Beijing and Shanghai.


  • As a foreigner you will be assumed to be wealthy and regularly wooed and courted by the opposite sex who are looking for a marriage visa. Be wary of dates where you are being seduced within a month and someone claims to "be in love" with you. Real romances do bloom but usually after 2-3 months. See this link.


  • You will be targeted for a number of scams by all the street vendors and scam artists who claim to be recruiters for foreign teachers and professors. They are quite smooth and convincing and some are even fellow-foreigners. Many are identity thieves who offer you $50,000 jobs but always insist on getting scans of your passport and visas. Avoid them like the plague. This article will explain why: [2]


  • China has some health issues that nobody will ever warn you about but you will surely discover on your own - the hard way. First the tap water is not up to European standards and will keep you in the bathroom more than you like, the winter air pollution in large cities is enough to make you gag (coal plants are still used) and 12% of the Chinese population has hepatitis and you need to use your own eating utensils in restaurants. STD rates are also high given the fact that a raging sexual revolution is well underway in China.


  • Toilet paper is not supplied in public bathrooms and you need to travel with your own supply or you will have a mess on your hands - literally.


  • Although there are many companies offering to help you find an MNC internship in China, the Chinese companies are 99% scams and the only trustworthy and reliable ones are owned and operated by foreigners. But if they have not been in business at least 5 years - take a pass. It takes that long to build up the right "guan xi" (connection) in China. Here are some that are legitimate that were reported in China's largest English language newspaper, The Global Times: [3]


  • Only 38% of China internships convert into full time jobs. But 76% of all China interns find work in China through their internship networking and remain in China an average of 4.7 years.


  • 18% of all China interns meet and marry their partners while in China. Why? Who knows - go ask Dr. Phil.


  • If you have partner back home, don't come to China without willpower and plenty of fidelity. Promiscuity is not a bad word in China and as mentioned above, their is a sexual revolution underway in China and foreign partners are in great demand - perhaps out of curiousity? China retailers sell 3.8 Billion condoms every single day (that fact is compliments of Trojan).


  • Half of anything and everything you buy in China will be fake. Perhaps this explains why you always get such a "great deal" on everything in China. But then again, they are the best fakes in the world and it took me almost two years to realize my Rolex was not genuine.

So the above is a sampling of what you never will be told about China internships. The good news is that despite all of the above, the China adventure you undertake as an intern will be a memorable experience that will do wonders for your resume. For a glimpse of the real internet industry in China without any sugar coating you may want to watch this CCTV National News mini documentary that aired recently: [4]