My name is Rong Lin. I am a junior accounting major and an RA in Clawson Hall. I was born in China, but moved to United States when I was eleven. So, pretty much I've spent half of my life in China and half my life in the States. Ever since I moved to the US, I have been immersed in American people and American culture. In my high school there were only three Chinese students - my brother, my sister, and myself. Our Chinese culture started to fade away in my family over the years and my families in China complained that my family has become too Americanized and started to forget our Chinese culture. So when I heard that there is a China Business Program in the Farmer School of Business, I knew it was beneficial for me to join. I wanted to re-explore my culture and the business environment in China. China has gone through many changes in the past ten years and it has opened up a lot of business opportunities to the world too.
I finished most of my CBP requirements during my sophomore year, the only requirement that I was missing was the study abroad requirement. So to fulfill the study abroad requirement for the China Business Program, I studied abroad this past summer with the FSB Far East program in the first half of the summer. Afterwards, I interned in Sheraton Dong Cheng Hotel in Beijing, China. Sheraton Dong Cheng Hotel is a five star international hotel and it was in its pre-opening stage. It is located in the Third Ring of Beijing, which is one of the busiest areas in Beijing. It has 441 guest rooms, four great restaurants, which are Chinese, Japanese, Italian and all-day-dining restaurants, and a huge banquet room. The reservations were full for the first month, before the hotel was open.
I arrived in Beijing and started my internship in mid June. It was my second time in the city, the first being with my professors and other classmates. This time it was just me and my friend An, whose family lives in Beijing. I lived with An during the first week of my internship because her parents thought it would be better for me to get familiar with the working environment first and worry about housing later. I was so nervous during my first day. An's mom dropped me off in front of the hotel and I waited in the lobby for ten minutes for the Human Resource Manager to introduce me my supervisors. They put me in the food and beverage department, because I had restaurant experience and also because of my bilingualism. I became the Secretary to the Executive Chef because of my set of skills. The first day was unforgettable and intense. I had to delete everything in my work computer and set up exactly the same folders as my boss. He then introduced me to the rest of the kitchen staff. People gave me funny looks and were shocked that I was still in college. Unfortunately, I was the only female amongst a group of upper level management men in the Food and Beverage Department. When 6 PM came around, I was prepared to leave, but my supervisor asked to me accompany him to a meeting and take notes. That first day I worked for 10 hours, and that remained the case for the duration of the internship. The reality was that interns and employees worked about 12 hours a day and there was no overtime pay. I discovered that was quite common in the Chinese corporate culture.
Things started to get worse when I moved out of Anís house. I didnít want to cause any trouble for An and her family, so I decided to move into a dorm at Beijing Jiao University. It was much smaller and less pristine than a Miami dorm. Living in a strange place with a stranger made my homesickness worse. After moving out, I had to find a way of getting to work. In order to save money and save time, I took the subway every morning to work, and the first time I rode the subway, I was terrified. It was so crowded, and people just push you onto the train if get caught in the crowd. There was no personal space in the subway with people standing less than a foot from your face. Also, in the sweltering summer heat, it didnít always smell very fresh.
After I adapted to living in Beijing, I started to fall in love with the city and my job as well. On a typical day, I would check my email first thing in the morning to see if there are any important announcements for our daily meeting. My job was to distribute any HR announcements to the kitchen staff. Then I would work on specific projects whether it was translating the menu, creating a excel format for the sous chefs to use, or just simply typing all the handwritten documents. It was a lot of work in the beginning, but it slowed down as we approached the opening date. Everyday around 6 PM I started to gather all the sous chefs and prepared for the meeting. My co-workers started warming up to me and we became like family. One my birthday, one of the sous chefs made me a cake and they took me out for dinner and lunch. Even my boss, who was quite intimidating, treated me as a daughter. On my last day of work he offered for me to stay, but I told him I have to go back to finish my school.
Despite the hard work and long hours, I was grateful to have had this internship experience. It was an opportunity to learn about the corporate culture in China and compare and contrast it with the American practices. I learned that there is an obvious hierarchy in China and the way people interact with coworkers differ drastically from how they interact with their supervisors. Not only that, I made some lasting friends. Before I left, my work family bought me farewell gifts and offered to let me stay and eat in the hotel for free the next time I visit Beijing. I still keep in touch with everyone and look forward to when I can see them again.
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