What’s Your Competitive Edge?

Graduate schemes are competitive. Even achieving a 2:1 or higher is no longer a guarantee for post-uni success. Employers are looking for more: internships, extra-curricular activities, leadership rolesthe list is endless in the struggle to be unique. Heres something for you: why not consider work experience abroad? Tori Bell tells Impact Travel about her experiences of interning in China and why it’s given her that competitive edge.

I’ve completed two internships overseas during my summer holidays. The first was in Beijing, which prompted a return this summer to Guiyang in South China. Although I initially wanted to travel and further my Mandarin skills, after securing an internship I came back with much more than great stories and extended vocab: key employability skills.

It was a huge challenge. This year I was based in Guizhou province, which has a large ethnic minority population and very few expats. These factors were initially extremely daunting but in hindsight they were in fact a huge benefit, as I was able to submerse myself in the Chinese culture and lifestyle of the region with ease.

Life is so different in China that I had to learn the appropriate ways to communicate and show respect for colleagues from diverse ethnic backgrounds – an invaluable skill for the future.

Employers are impressed by this part of my CV, as it speaks for itself. It makes great conversation in interviews

I also grasped an understanding of a different work culture. Working in the HR and Marketing department provided me with a great insight into how the company operates. I learnt about their recruitment policy and the impact of Chinese anti-corruption laws on employment.

I’ve found now that employers are impressed by this part of my CV, as it speaks for itself. It makes great conversation in interviews. I spoke to Instant Impact, the graduate recruitment agency who said “It takes a certain something to step outside your comfort zone. The skills you gain from meeting new people, experiencing a different culture and communicating outside your mother tongue are invaluable and transferable to the workplace.”

I had enormous fun outside of work too. My colleagues took me out for lunches and dinners, ensuring that I tried the spicy local cuisine. My boss organised trips for me to go to the local tourist attractions, such as Huangguoshu Falls and the Miao Ethnic Village. Another memorable experience was attending a Chinese wedding – I won’t forget that in a hurry!

I love that my internship was so rich and distinctive. But the best thing is how much it’s increased my confidence. I was pushed out into the unknown and forced to quickly adapt to a new environment.

I’ll never forget my time in China. Don’t hold back! Go get some overseas experience too.

Tori Bell

Image courtesy of Jens Schott Knudsen via Flickr

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One Comment
  • chisom juliet
    9 December 2014 at 20:25
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    It takes great minds to do great deeds. Traveling, meeting new people, being smart gives you an edge in your professionalism.

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