During my internship in Shanghai, China, I was able to learn a great deal in regards to both entrepreneurship and global marketing; two fields of the business world that I am very interested in pursuing for my future career path.
On my end, I was able to provide some quality assistance to the development of the Lee & Vargas Restaurant Concepts during my time with them. The organization was able to successfully transform from a collection of 12 business ventures in Shanghai, to a total of 16 during my three month tenure. I am very proud to say that I believe my contributions to the company were most definitely a vital aspect of the creation and success of the four new concepts that were built out while I was there.
Most of my work was concentrated towards two specific ventures; the Boxing Cat Brewery (an American-style microbrewery and restaurant) and 3 Dumplings Gourmet Adventures (a Shanghai cuisine tour company). For the brewery, I was able to organize and plan successful events, while contributing to the growth of a new location, and providing input to daily operational solutions. With 3 Dumplings, I was given the task of building the business essentially from the ground up. Upon arriving in Shanghai, there was already an organized baseline from which to build out the tour company, but it needed a lot of love to really become a reality. I worked with web designers for the website (www.3dumplings.com), created Google AdWords online advertising campaigns, met with hotel directors to talk about potential partnerships, designed marketing materials, negotiated rates with transportation companies, researched competitors' offerings and our customer base, and helped to decide the specifics of what exactly would be offered in the tours around the city.
It was a great experience that combined aspects of studying abroad and interning to further my education both professionally and academically. I was able to learn a great deal about what it takes to start a new business in China, while also learning about global marketing and advertising, which I hope will prepare me well for my future endeavors in those fields of business.
My experience in Shanghai can most definitely be connected with things that I've done at Albion. Gerstacker has been a great resource for me. This past spring semester, I participated in a Google Adwords Class with Char Crandell and Sam Hogg. That was beneficial to me in that it related exactly to projects that I worked on during my internship. I was involved in a project for 3 Dumplings, and my boss asked me to be in charge of building out the online marketing and advertising programs for the business, using Google AdWords. Lucky for me, I took the AdWords class with Gerstacker and presented my research with some classmates at the Elkin Isaac Research Symposium in late April. I used my knowledge of campaigns, ads, keywords, Google's Content Network, and Google search to create an Adwords account that could provide profits for the company. I created ads in English, French, and Chinese, reaching a wide audience of potential customers, and I also created an image ad (something that our class did not work much with). My budget was much larger than it was when we did the Google Adwords Challenge, and it was real money this time around, so I really had to concentrate on providing my boss with successful online advertising initiatives. With my experience using AdWords on a global level, and in a new industry (tourism, as opposed to lawncare/landscaping), I was able to refine my skills building digital advertising campaigns. I took what I learned in class and I added to it, providing myself with a great deal of knowledge along the way.
In February of 2009, I was given the chance to travel to France with the Gerstacker Institute, to work with French students in creating a business plan for a new company that did business on an international level. Three other students and I went for a week to create this business, then we returned, continued working on it more, and our French counterparts came to visit us in April to present our business plan at the Elkin Isaac Research Symposium. It was a great experience that gave us a chance to learn all about what it takes to get the ideas of a new business rolling - very entrepreneurial. That opportunity prepared me quite well for getting into the entrepreneurial mindset that presented itself during my time in China. New ideas were always being thrown around by my boss for new ventures in Shanghai, and I was often able join in on the planning and preparation of new business concepts. While working for Lee & Vargas Restaurant Concepts, I had a chance to learn all about what it takes to utilize your business plan to create something real. I learned that it is certainly not an easy process, and relationships can be key to your success as an entrepreneur - especially in China where 'guanxi' is a huge part of making it in the business world.
I also took a class last fall with Dr. Yi-Li Wu about Chinese History and Current Events. It was a great opportunity for me to learn a lot about the country in which I planned on living for three months. Before that class, I knew very little about Chinese culture, history, and people, but after taking her class, I felt a lot more comfortable going over to the other side of the world to work and live. Finally having the opportunity to actually go to China to see what it is really all about was incredible. You don't really understand it until you are actually living it firsthand, and so I was able to further my understanding of Chinese culture by actually being there, which was a great experience.
As for the future, I hope that I will be able to continue learning Mandarin Chinese. It is a difficult language, but I feel that I have found success in learning the basics and being able to communicate on a day-to-day basis in China, so I would really like to maintain it. I would also love to take a few real entrepreneurial courses, to refine what I have learned through the experiences that I have now had both abroad and at home. It would be nice to seek an MBA in Entrepreneurial Studies after a couple years of work upon graduation from Albion, or I hope to either pursue my own entrepreneurial ventures. My time in Shanghai has prepared me for either of those options in a number of ways.
For students seeking success in their internships, I can say the following: work hard, stay motivated, ask questions, consider everything as a learning experience, and be willing to broaden your horizons to find new opportunities.
Written By: Pat McCombs, '11