Shanghai Consulting Chronicles: A Student Intern’s Perspective

Blog post by Internship Program participant and third-year Harvard undergraduate student, Ricardo Skewes

Ricardo Skewes
January 25, 2024

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Shanghai Office of PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), thanks to the Harvard China Fund Student Internship Program. This experience wasn’t just about exploring the consulting world; it was a journey into the heart of a culture, history, and language I’ve admired for over a decade. Living in China for two months was a dream come true, and every moment was an adventure.

Skewes at the Ancient City Wall in Xi'an
Skewes at the Ancient City Wall in Xi’an

My biggest achievement from this experience was the consolidation of my Chinese speaking, reading and writing skills at the professional level. At PwC, I worked on creating a roadmap for a LEED-certified project. This involved delving into technical manuals and governmental reports in Chinese, enriching my vocabulary with terms like “transducer” and “geothermal generator.” This challenging task significantly improved my language proficiency, equipping me for professional work in China. 

Skewes presents a work project at PwC Shanghai
Skewes presents a work project at PwC Shanghai

The internship also honed my analytical and research skills. In the consulting world, I learned the importance of crafting logical narratives from incomplete information and making informed guesses. This skill was not just useful professionally but also in navigating the complexities of a new culture and environment.

Beyond the professional growth, the cultural experiences were the highlight of my stay. I had the chance to travel to various cities, including the historic Xi’an alongside members of the group. Each city offered a unique glimpse into China’s diverse heritage and modern lifestyle. The most memorable moments were the spontaneous interactions with locals – making friends in the subway, chatting with street vendors, and going to lunch with coworkers. Many of these people became my friends and I still interact on WeChat with them! These encounters provided invaluable insights into the everyday life and perspectives of the people in the China of today.

Skewezs and his fellow interns in China
Skewes and his fellow interns in China

Reflecting on my time in China, I see the internship as more than just a career stepping stone. It was a period of personal growth, cultural immersion, and fun. Whether it was trying out local cuisines, understanding how locals see the world through deep conversations, experiencing life at the office in Shanghai, or simply wandering through bustling markets, every experience contributed to my understanding and appreciation of China.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Harvard China Fund. Living and working in China has been transformative. The professional skills I’ve gained are invaluable, but the cultural experiences and friendships I’ve made are what truly enriched my life. These memories and lessons will stay with me forever.

To learn more about the Harvard China Student Internship Program, click here.