Igor Lazikj - Marketing Manager
Originally from the Republic of Macedonia, Igor completed his undergraduate degree at the European University at the Faculty of Economics. After graduating he continued his studies in London, England, where he earned his M.A. in Marketing. Igor is currently living and working in Beijing, China as the Marketing Manager for AsiaOppo. He is also a co-founder of the company, which provides internships in China.
AsiaOppo is based in Beijing, China. What is your background with China and what was the impetus for starting this organization in Beijing?
After completing my master’s degree in the UK, I started searching for an internship, as I wanted to gain practical knowledge of marketing practices. I applied for paid and unpaid positions all over the globe, and what surprised me is that most of my responses came from companies in China. I was accepted at two companies in China and decided to take one in Beijing. Initially, I planned to complete my internship and return to Europe, but after three months, I was offered a job with the same company and decided to stay in China. I worked at an internship placement company there, and I found it very interesting, as I communicated with young people from all over the world. In fact, I liked the industry so much, I decided to start my own company with a Chinese colleague, who had few years of experience with interns.
What does your role as Marketing Manager entail on a daily basis?
I plan the budget for marketing activities, decide which media to advertise in, engage with potential interns on social media, conduct Google keyword research, search engine optimization, and monitor competitor activity. As we are a small company, sometimes I also take on other roles, such as interviewing interns and responding to interns’ inquiries.
You’ve had first hand experience interning in China, how has your experience as an intern helped you to market AsiaOppo’s internship programs?
I started as an intern in China before landing a job and later founding my own company, so I have experienced many different roles within a company. By interning in China, I gained firsthand experience of what it’s like to fill that role. I can confidently share my experience with potential interns, as I have been in their shoes. I always speak honestly with them about the advantages, but also disadvantages, of interning in China. I believe that interns can recognize that approach, and because of this, they are more confident in taking internships with us.
What makes the AsiaOppo’s internships in China different from those offered by other internship providers in China?
After their arrival in China, we maintain strong relationship with our interns and organize social events twice per week, so we can directly learn from interns about their experiences with the companies at which they work. We also socialize with our interns by going out to clubs and bars, restaurants, city tours, etc. We try to be as friendly as possible and have fun together after working hours. Beside the professional experience, we aim to help interns immerse themselves deeper into the Chinese culture and social life.
Internships abroad often change a participant’s view of the world. How do you make sure participants are ready for these life-changing experiences?
Before taking part in our programs, we provide interns with as much information as possible to make sure that they will make the right decision. If needed, we can also schedule a Skype conversation for potential candidates with our previous interns so that they can share information and experience. We provide interns with useful websites and forums where they can engage with other foreigners living in China and do everything we can to ensure that our interns are properly educated and prepared for living in a new culture.
In your role, how do you help students prepare for the experience of interning abroad?
I’m in charge of providing information to interns before their arrival in China. I help interns with the visa application, provide them with information about accommodations and the placement itself, assist them in creating a packing list, and provide them with information about living costs in China.
For those who like reading, I also recommend helpful materials to help familiarize them with Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory. I have found it often greatly helps interns to understand how Chinese society is different from their home cultures.
What makes an applicant a good fit for an AsiaOppo internship?
We encourage any student who is open-minded, enjoys traveling, and has a positive attitude to apply for our internships.
What are the most important benefits of interning abroad in China?
Interning in China has many personal and professional benefits. Interns will gain independence and self-confidence, make personal and professional contacts, and add international experience to their CVs, in addition to furthering their education through directly working in the field.
AsiaOppo has been around for about two years, what has been your biggest accomplishment since the organization was founded?
In the span of two years, we have successfully placed more than 500 interns. We feel that is our biggest accomplishment, and we plan to double that number in the next two years. Moreover, we have established partnerships with international hotel chains including Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Four Seasons, and more, many of whom hire interns exclusively through our channels.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of seeing interns complete internships with AsiaOppo?
Our internship program can be a life-changing opportunity for interns, and my role in AsiaOppo makes me a big part of that experience. I’m happiest when I hear positive feedback from interns saying they are glad they completed internships with us and that they had the time of their lives.
What does the future hold for AsiaOppo? Any exciting plans we should know about?
We plan to further develop the business and open offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou. We also hope to offer a few scholarships per year in the future for interns who cannot afford to travel and work abroad.