GoAbroad Interview

Alex Zhang - Business Developer

Alex Zhang - Business Developer

Alex was born in the Hebei province of China. He graduated from the University of Science and Technology. Upon graduation, he moved to Beijing to pursue a career and has been working with interns ever since. Alex loves being able to help interns expand their view of the world while obtaining international business skills.

You’ve worked with interns for over five years, how did you get connected with AsiaOppo?

During my time working with interns, Igor and I were colleagues at another internship placement company. As we got to know each other, we both felt we could make a difference on our own with a similar mission, so we decided to work together and establish our own company, AsiaOppo.

Italian intern with staff member at the Asia Oppo office

With an Italian intern in our office

What does a typical day look like as the Business Developer for AsiaOppo?

A typical day involves me checking emails from interns and companies, building new cooperations, calling companies to arrange new interns, and getting feedback of interns who are already there.

What makes the AsiaOppo’s programs different from those offered by other internship providers in China?

AsiaOppo isn’t just an intern placement company. We are dedicated to immersing our students and interns in the Chinese culture so that their internships become a pleasant, life-changing experience, rather than just another notch on their resumes. We are not interested in simply placing interns to satisfy client needs. We want to create a new home for our interns for as long as they are in China, and we feel it is part of our role as placement facilitators to ensure that they’re socially and culturally satisfied here.

As the Business Developer, what new sectors, trends, or opportunities are you seeing for internships in China? In Beijing in particular?

As China’s business world grows, the potential for intern placement grows as well. China is one of the leading countries for development in the world, and many of the companies we work with are at the forefront of that movement. We are working with the booming technology industry, so of course many of our interns are placed in companies that specialize here. As Beijing becomes a more popular destination, whether for business or pleasure, we also see our interns capitalizing on opportunities to become part of the hospitality industry.

What are the primary sectors you place interns?

We pride ourselves in doing everything we can to place our interns in their personal fields of interest. We have placed interns in varying sectors, from business to journalism to tourism, real estate, graphic design, and more. As mentioned, our largest sector for placement at this time is the hospitality industry. Many of our interns are interested in becoming part of the booming tourism industry, and we are able to place them at internships with 4- and 5-star hotels in Beijing and other Chinese cities.

Visiting the Beijing Zoo

Alex with two Spanish interns in Beijing Zoo

What characteristics or skills make someone a good fit to intern in China?

For the most part, what it takes to be a successful intern in China is a willingness to learn and eagerness to integrate into Chinese culture. We find that with the majority of our students, coming to China for work and to build a life, even if temporary, is just as exciting as embarking into their career fields.

Rarely do we encounter an intern who is ready to work and excited about taking a new step in their lives who isn’t a great fit for working here in China.

What are some of the challenges in setting up internships in the emerging Chinese market?

The challenges we most often come across deal with language barriers and the ability of our interns to travel across borders. Though they may be eager to begin new internships, we do sometimes find that students do not grasp the Chinese language at a high enough level to work directly with mother-tongue Chinese companies. For this reason, we offer courses in Chinese to bring interns up to speed so that they are ready for placement. We also take care of a large part of the visa process for traveling interns, and this can be different from person to person.

What makes China an ideal place for a business internship abroad?

China is one of the number one producers and business-minded countries in the world. With a rich history dedicated to progressing both technologically and in other sectors of the business world, China has established a fantastic atmosphere for teaching business students not only to master their trade, but to successfully interact with varying cultures, which we find to be a priceless lesson. Our interns leave China with a firm grasp on how to do business, not only in their own countries, but across the globe, as well as with the fluency of one of the planet’s most useful languages.

Hiking the Great Wall of China

Alex with a German and an Italian intern at the Great Wall

What has been your biggest accomplishment during your time with AsiaOppo?

The success of AsiaOppo itself is the most impressive development I have seen in my time here. We started as two colleagues eager to make a difference for interns from across the world, and to date we have placed over 500 students in professional settings aimed at simultaneously furthering their educations and careers. Moreover, these interns most often come to greatly enjoy their time in China, making the program much more than just a career stepping-stone.

What is your favorite part about working for AsiaOppo?

The people, hands down. I work with such an amazing team of people from around the world who have all gathered in Beijing to work toward the same goal. We just want to ease the movement of business professionals across continents and cultures so that, together, we can improve the planet in any way possible. When I come to work every day, I’m surrounded by great people with similar goals and dedication to helping our interns. That’s worth everything!