Alex Cho is an alum of the Spring 2015 - Fall 2015 program:
MY NANJING CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE ACHIEVEMENTS IN A NUTSHELL
- Traveled to 25+ cities in China
- Passed OPI exam with score of 3 (Emerging Superior or Advanced-High)
- Scored good grades in all my classes (Flagship & Nanjing University Direct Enrollment Course)
- Became Flagship certified
- Built decent friendship with students from Nanjing
- Part of Nanjing underground church community
Finding An Internship
- Start As Early As Possible: I knew some classmates who already secured an internship even before landing in China. There are pros and cons to this. The pro being they don’t have to worry about it, the con being they will miss out on the opportunity to travel to new cities to interview in person.
- Apply To At Least 3 Internships: Preferably one (if not all) will be out of Nanjing.
The Type of Internship To Find
My internship opportunity was undeniably great. It was a social work related NGO in Shenzhen. I had opportunities to participate in the 2015 Social Work Fair at the same expo where CES takes place. Additionally, there were lots of opportunities to drop into workshops they held on a weekly basis. (I lived 5 mins running distance from my internship.)
- Check out my blog under “Chinese Flagship Nanjing Capstone” and “China” for more content.
- Read my blogs on my website “China Archives”.
- #1 Inside Sales-Like Internships: One of my SFSU classmate had an inside sales-like internship in Shanghai. Now as a professional working in inside sales, in retrospect, I wish I did a similar role, but in a Chinese context. No lie. Inside sales in English is hard enough… So doing it in a foreign language will pose a more gigantic challenge. Yet, you grow more under pressure and difficulty.
- #2 Major or Future Career Related Internship: If the first option seems really intimidating, this is obviously the next choice (unless you have marketing or other business major/career endeavours)
It’s Hard. Have That Expectation. Make Peace With It. Excel.
- Culture Shock: Being in an environment that contrasts your culture back in the states is difficult. Even as an ABC (American Born Chinese), the culture shock was real and difficult. Admittedly, it was easier for me to adapt because I prepared for it by creating my own immersion type scenario before heading to China. What I did was participate in a Chinese speaking fellowship and service at my church.
- Not Breaking Down to Stress: Rest time and finding solace away from a Chinese speaking environment is necessary. However, attempt to push yourself incrementally each time so that you will feel more natural or comfortable in a Chinese environment.
- Invest this money and time by treating out a native Nanjinger or Chinese national and build relationships. Of course, this requires you to get out of your comfort zone and its uncomfortable. But that's the whole point. Getting out of your comfort zone and being challenged generate growth and personal development. Use your time and scholarship money to accomplish your objective: learn Mandarin and get cultural exposure.
- Hanging Out ONLY with Flagship students (or Flagship staff members): try your best to befriend the locals and hangout with Chinese nationals as much as possible. Maintain a ratio of 80/20 (80% time spent with Chinese nationals versus 20% spent with English speakers) and you will be solid. The future you will thank the present you.
- Staying In Your Dorm or Apartment: These trend happens especially during your internship phase and honestly it happened to me. I wish I tried to research what events or activities I could have participated after work was over and spent less time in my apartment.
- Always Look For Opportunity:
- Events & Activities: This means hanging out with people you normally wouldn’t hang out with. Going to events hosted at your internship or events associated with your internship, etc. The goal is to expand your social circles, get more life experience, and potentially happening upon life changing conversations or encounters.
- Relationships: This can be romantic relationships such as dating or just really strong friendships with Chinese nationals. Each interaction you have with someone different is an opportunity to expand your worldview, challenge your own personal views, and learn more about yourself. The last part is accomplished because relationships (friendships, romantic ones, etc) act as a living mirror and bounces off who you are in relations to the person you’re interacting with. They more people you talk to and interact with, you will get a greater picture of the world at large and a more refined view of your own world from within.
- Get The Most Out Of All Situations: 一石二鸟, hit two birds with one stone. Try your best to build the habit of maximizing your time, effort, and energy by grouping activities, tasks, or plans together. For instance, whenever I go to events, I always take active notes to recycle into a blog post in the future. On a more common level, all Flagship students should try to accomplish the feats I mentioned in the beginning to really juice out all the opportunities that Capstone provides.
- Set SMART Goals and Work On Them: This is for your academic success and personal success (which is more important). Success is measurable. “A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
- Of course, setting goals won’t ensure that they come true, but the probability and likelihood of them happening once you put words to your intangible desires and actionable steps, it will increase the probability of actualizing your desires that much more.
- I recommend writing out your goals in a Google Sheet or Doc before heading to Capstone. Do research on how to maximize your study abroad experience and accomplish them once you land in China.
- For me, I had small goals like traveling to seven cities in China. After I accomplished them, I kept expanding it and eventually made it to 25 cities (could have been 26 cities [西安] but my foot…. hurted that weekend unfortunately….)
- Master Your Time:
- Plan Ahead: Plan out your short-will-pass-in-blink-of-an-eye four to five month period of time you will be in China. This would include events, activities, traveling plans, and more. It will help put your daily activities into perspective and give you something to work for rather than staying at home watching dramas are surfing the web.
- Track Your Time Daily: Tentatively plan out your day using Google Calendar to have a visible representation of where time goes on a daily and weekly basis. This might give you visible self-accountability with where you invest your time in (time spent with Capstone people, napping, surfing the web, etc). Be honest with yourself when doing this.