Internship Stories: American Chamber of Commerce, Shanghai

It’s time for another internship story from a real BU student! This time, learn what it’s like to intern representing American business interests in China!

By Leanne Quinn (CAS’20)

CCD: Tell us a little about the organization.

During the Fall 2019 semester, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai through the BU Shanghai Internship program. AmCham is the official voice of American business in China. AmCham Shanghai is a non-profit, non-partisan business organization and strives to strengthen U.S.-China commercial ties and help our members succeed. It achieves these goals through member workshops, publications, policy briefings, government advocacy and more. 

CCD: What were your responsibilities during the internship?

I was a part of the Publications and Communication department. This department consisted of the director, the head editor, the video manager, the content manager, and another intern from the United States. One of the skills I gained from this internship is the ability to conduct and edit interviews. I conducted new member profile interviews for the weekly email and interviewed industry professionals for pieces that appeared in the June, July/August, and September issues of AmCham’s Insight Journal. Other projects included creating presentations and attending and writing summaries of AmCham events for publication on our website and WeChat. 

CCD: What was the work culture at your organization like?

Although AmCham is an American company, there was a different work culture compared to my domestic internship experiences. An example of this was the office aiyi, or “grandma.” Her main jobs included making coffee in the morning and heating up lunches, and the rest of the time she would hang out in the break room and chat with people as they went in and out. 

CCD: What challenges did you face during your internship?

The only challenge I had to face during my internship was learning how to handle a long commute. My housing was near Fudan University’s campus in Yangpu. To get from Yangpu to Nanjing West Road in Shanghai, I had to take two busy metro lines. My commute was around an hour and 15 minutes each way, and depending on the day, the metro was shockingly crowded. Over the course of the semester, I learned to let go of my Western ideas about personal space and go with the flow. 

CCD: What did you find the most rewarding part of your internship?

The most rewarding part of my internship was gaining a unique perspective on the U.S.-China trade dispute. The United States and China entered into a trade dispute in early 2019 when President Trump declared tariffs on Chinese goods. American and foreign businesses in China looked to our company for resources and workshops to help them understand and navigate the impacts of the trade war on their businesses. One of the most eye-opening projects that I got to help with was the AmCham Shanghai-AmCham China joint survey on the second tariff increase that occurred in May. Through this project, I got to see what actual American business thought of the trade war. 

Second most rewarding thing was getting to work with my two supervisors, Doug and Ian. I seriously lucked out having such encouraging and hilarious bosses – they made work incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. 

CCD: Did your internship help clarify your career goals?

Yes! I truly know now that international relations is the right career path for me, and I’d love to pursue a future career that allows me to travel.

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