Aug 29, 2017
Never in my life have I ever felt more Chinese. Growing up in a 95% white town, I was the majority of my friends’ only Asian friend, and because of this, I was their encyclopedia to all things China. I desperately tried to explain how fortune cookies aren’t actually a Chinese thing, and I blew their minds when I told them about a toilet that you can’t sit on. I prided myself on my extensive knowledge of daily life in China, but little did I realize how much more I could learn without my relatives cooking for and entertaining me or my parents acting as translator.
You can’t really call yourself Chinese until you’ve mastered WeChat, a little green app that has revolutionized even the simplest aspects of everyday life in China. WeChat is so much more than a social media or mobile payment app. With the app, you can top up your phone, order a taxi, online shop, or even rent a bike.
Along with my new way of experiencing daily life in China, I had my first introduction to the Chinese workplace. I spent my summer interning in the international department of China Universal Asset Management, and to give you an idea of how prepared I was, let me just say that I found myself spending my first two weeks of the internship constantly going back to Investopedia and looking up the definition of asset management. However, my mentor, Amy, was very understanding when it came to easing me into the work, and before long, I was able to really appreciate the culture of the workplace.
Each morning, I sit in on a morning meeting at the end of which someone has to share a joke they found; according to Amy, finding a joke is the hardest part of the job. I can see why too, because at the end of each punch line, everyone always just lets out an awkward little laugh. But those awkward little laughs are endearing to me, as they represent to me a company that tries very hard to make the environment as fun as a financial firm can get. Every now and then we get ice cream delivered to our desks, and each Wednesday we get let out an hour and a half early so employees can participate in company recreation teams.
I’m still no expert of all things China (trust me, you should hear me speak the language), but this summer has given me an understanding beyond what my typical family visits ever could have. To my fellow HCSIP interns, I could’ve dedicated this entire blog post to how much fun I’ve had with you all this summer, but I think my constant blowing up of the WeChat and Snapchat groups gets the point across.
This blog post was written by Laura Lu, Harvard College Class of 2019, and participant in the 2017 Harvard China Student Internship Program.