Work – Life Balance in Shanghai
New firsts and a rough start
July 12, 2014, it was 12:30 in the afternoon as I was sitting in the plane, waiting for its departure with anxiety accompanied with a little worry and uncertainty. This was my first time to travel to Shanghai where I’d start my first summer internship. Everything was brand-new for me and I kept wishing for everything to go smoothly.
However, the flight turned out to be very unpleasant. The two hour flight was scheduled to depart at 12:30 pm, but just an hour after take off I found myself in Fuzhou Airport because of bad weather in Shanghai. I did not arrive until 8:30 in the evening and I missed the last train from the airport. Such an unpleasant start made me worry about the rest of my time in Shanghai.
New environment – New colleagues
I’m working as the HR and Admin Intern in VF Asia Shanghai office. My job duties are mainly to assist in organizing staff training and activities, assist in preparing business reports and maintaining the system data and also help with human resources and administrative work. I participated in three projects: the Summer Refreshing Plan, the Business Continuity Plans and writing Orientation Materials: Office Support Manual and On-boarding Guideline. What deeply impacted besides my daily job duties was how involved I was in the working environment.
Being the leader in the apparel industry, VF’s dress code encourages employees to dress in either casual or sport. It also encourages a relatively easy and energetic atmosphere. I was so lucky that my colleagues were very nice and helpful to me. I met supervisors that were willing to listen to my opinions, opinions from a fresh graduate without abundant working experience. This helped me build up my confidence and contributed a lot to my later work.
Outside the office
Besides my internship experience, my life outside of work also served as an irreplaceable part of my unique experience in Shanghai. It is often said in our course text books or research that younger generations (post ’90s for example) are keen on striking a healthy work-life balance. That is also true for me. During my spare time on weekends, I would hang around Shanghai, searching for good local food and great sights. What makes Shanghai such a unique city in China other than its size is its mixture of traditional Chinese and western culture.
The most obvious example of this is in the city’s architecture; there are traditional Chinese gardens juxtaposed with traditional western stone buildings. It is very interesting to see two different cultures integrating with each other and co-existing in such a dynamic environment.
What’s more, during my stay in Shanghai, the famous electronics and game show – “ChinaJoy” was held in Shanghai. As a big fan of new electronic devices and video games, I stayed in the show for the whole day and had great fun!
One of the most famous tourist attractions – West Lake – is just a two hours’ train away from Shanghai. There is no reason for me not to pay it a visit! Thus, I bought train tickets and went for a one-day trip in Hangzhou during the last weekend. Sightseeing alone was a little bit boring, but cycling around West Lake was great fun!
As a Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leadership Scholar, I am so lucky that I was offered such a great opportunity to work in VF, the world’s leading supplier of branded apparel that operates renowned brands like Lee, Wranglers, Timberland and more. I must thank both Hinrich Foundation and VF for providing me with two meaningful months in Shanghai during which I learned a lot and had a lot of fun as well. This is one of my most treasured memories and will stay in my mind for a lifetime.
About the Author – Wen Shunru (Michael)