Hong Kong is ranked as the world’s third most economically important city, trailing behind New York and London alone. Gazing upon the incredible skyline from atop Victoria Peak it is not hard to understand why. Vast sea ports anchoring ships from around the world, millions of people moving about, and over 1,200 skyscrapers - more than any other city on earth - make Hong Kong a fairytale land of international commerce. And here beauty is more than skin deep. Go further and you will discover the bustling street markets, bounty of public museums, and insatiable nightlife which make Hong Kong a virtual paradise for finding an internship abroad.
Life in Hong Kong
Although Cantonese is the primary language spoken in Hong Kong, English is also one of the city’s official languages, due to its British heritage. Since it is such an internationally central city, most business interactions during any internship in Hong Kong will conveniently take place in English. Educated people typically speak the language fluently and many locals speak enough to interact easily.
Hong Kong is one of the densest cities in the world with a population of over seven million people, part of the reason why the city has built upwards and developed so many skyscrapers. Hong Kong also boasts the world’s most widely used public transit system, with over 90 percent of the population relying on busses, metros, and ferries to get around on a daily basis. Individuals who intern abroad in Hong Kong may occasionally feel claustrophobic in the crowd, especially in the hot humid summer, but there are plenty of laid back public parks and piers where interns can escape the commotion. Eventually the hustle and bustle will become just a way of life.
And more importantly, the city is a ton of fun. Interns may come to take the possibilities for granted, because there is most definitely no shortage of opportunities to keep oneself engaged and active outside an internship. From high-end fashion boutiques, massive megamalls, and world-class nightclubs to funky marketplaces, free museums, and offbeat bars, Hong Kong is truly a city where you can live any type of lifestyle that you (and your wallet) can piece together. Interns in Hong Kong will find themselves in a whole new world of opportunity and cultural integration.
Just about any and every field of professional interest comes with its own advantageous internship in Hong Kong. The big internship placements are in finance, media, and marketing, as Hong Kong perennially remains a powerhouse of international trade and communications. The financial district downtown is truly a sight to behold with its high rising buildings, sky walkways, and thousands of business professionals milling around. The sense of global importance will be palpable for individuals interning in Hong Kong.
Still beyond international business, a wealth of other internship opportunities in HK await international interns. Art, architecture, engineering, education, and medicine internships all hold their own respectable place in Hong Kong’s deeply complex metropolis. Browse through all of the diversity of programs available and odds are you will find an area which suits your interests. Summer internships are most popular and generally last a few weeks to months, but internships in Hong Kong are generally available year round.
The work environment of Hong Kong will obviously vary by your field of placement. There is no strict local culture of formal interaction, as Hong Kong has always been a city built around global connectivity. However, it is important to know that in general the Chinese value patience and discipline as personal qualities of potential associates or interns. Take the time to inform yourself of the field you are entering into, and never hesitate to ask questions of your superiors regarding what is expected. After all, internships are intended to be a learning experience.
Salary & Costs
The Hong Kong Dollar is the eighth most traded currency in the world and runs at an exchange rate of about $7.75 to one US dollar. Since Hong Kong is such an internationally central city, the price of living can be fairly expensive, especially relative to neighboring mainland China. It all depends on choice of lifestyle - if you live away from the city center and shop at street markets than you can save a considerable amount of money. If you eat at five-star restaurants and frequently attend elite nightclubs, then saving may not be as possible.
The good news is that because it boasts the world’s freest economy, you may be lucky enough to compensate for the high cost of living by finding a paid internship in Hong Kong. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid obviously depends on your area of placement and company, so do a bit of research beforehand to check out your options. Often times internship programs will include housing and/or meals in program fees as well.
Like many international hubs, Hong Kong can be made a great place to live luxuriously or on a shoestring. For more information on scholarship and financial aid opportunities, check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory.
Accommodation & Visas
Independent living in apartments or flats is typical for many internships in Hong Kong, and many programs will help organize housing for their international interns. Group living options are also generally made available for foreign interns working in Hong Kong. You will likely live comfortably, but do not be surprised if all Western conveniences are not accounted for. Hong Kong is a city with strong European influence, but still remains very much impacted by the developing economies of China and Southeast Asia.
Although visas are usually not required for shorter visits, if you are planning on interning abroad in Hong Kong than you will likely need to obtain a training visa. These typically last for up to twelve months and can easily be obtained with the sponsorship of the company or organization in which you will be interning. Consult GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information on the specific visa policy for your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Due to its unique history of development as a city where East meets West, Hong Kong has always been a driving city in the globalization of the modern world. Birthed as a British colony and thriving today as a Special Administrative Region of China, the city retains an autonomous identity which feels like its own country entirely.
Hong Kong is a place that has been shaped more by international free trade than by any specific cultural ties, making it a truly fascinating place to live and work. Interning abroad in Hong Kong will provide the experience of a lifetime and give interns the chance to gain invaluable work experience on a tiny island of unparalleled global importance.