Mar.07 - The new gap year for western students: hundreds of young business wannabes are heading to China and Hong Kong, hoping the cultural experience will give them the edge as they enter the jobs market. Ciara Sutton reports.
Terence is from the U.S. - rather than taking a work placement in New York, he's in Shanghai. Record numbers of students like Terence are flocking to China, learning the business etiquette, and hoping to impress future employers in the UK and US. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TERENCE RHEA, ADVERTISING INTERN FROM GETTYSBURG COLLEGE, SAYING: "I've learnt a lot from them. From working on digital campaigns and learning about the new marketing strategies with mobile devices in China. And along with kind of the whole international business experience. You deal with your co-workers in kind of a different way. It's not as direct. Working in the office, I wouldn't say it's more passive, but you don't really get direct feedback back to you." As China's global dominance grows, the benefits work both ways. The number of Chinese companies seeking western interns is also booming. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JUDY YAO, ACCOUNT MANAGER AT DRAFTFCB, SAYING, SAYING: "We have a lot of international clients so we want to hire some foreign interns to survey the project better." Terence found his placement through Absolute Internship, a London based company. Director Fredrik van Huynh, says applicants have quadrupled in the past year, and they're struggling to meet demand from both students and firms in China. The company is sending more than 1000 interns this year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR AT ABSOLUTE INTERNSHIP, Fredrik van Huynh SAYING: "It's so exciting, so different to the UK, so different to the US, so different to Australia. That's the reason why they are so excited to travel so far away to gain experience." But does that experience pay off? NAB's Nick Parsons, says a knowledge of Mandarin will open more doors for western graduates. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NICK PARSONS, HEAD OF MARKETS STRATEGY AT NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, SAYING: "I think the ability to speak and show interest in the very least in as many languages as possible is an absolute key to success." Absolute Intern says around 78% of those completing 3 month placements in China, land a full time job on their return.