Tag Archives: China Daily

Colorful Life Lived in Black and White – RMG CEO on China Daily

It is not easy to find Robert Parkinson’s apartment, which is carefully hidden in a cluster of recently completed compounds and winding cobble roads. And that is exactly what he was looking for: something “a little bit out of the city”.

Upper East Side, located in the East Fourth Ring Road area, is a location of choice for many expats in Beijing as it is only 15 minutes drive to the Beijing Capital International Airport and 10 minutes drive to the city’s Central Business District. Robert Parkinson is now enjoying his fourth year in the compound.

“Before we moved here from the previous company apartment, we looked at 30 to 40 places in this compound. And this is the third apartment that we have lived here,” said Parkinson, managing director of RMG Business Consulting Beijing Company.

The first impression is that the apartment is spacious. The living room, covering about 50 sq m, is divided into a dining area and a reception area. Even the kitchen, covering about 20 sq m, is big enough for a family of three to dine comfortably.

“The kitchen is very nice, and a big fridge is very important, both my girlfriend and I cook a lot. It’s a nice thing to eat healthily,” said Parkinson. “And as I am from Britain, English food is my favorite of course. And we cook every Sunday.”

The house also looks spacious because every room of the apartment – the living room, the bedroom and even the kitchen – is bright.

“It’s nice to have sun coming in. It makes sure you get up in the morning. If there is no sun, I can stay in bed all day,” laughed Parkinson. But the dcor also helps, as it is mostly black and white, a lesson that Parkinson learned the hard way from experience.

“I do quite like black and white but it is much more than that. I didn’t want to make any mistakes, and black and white are easy to get right,” said Parkinson. “I bought a house in UK and I decorated it red. And I got it really bright, just right I thought, and then in the end, it was awful and we had to redo it. So this time I thought I’d play interesting with the features but be kind of safe at the same time.”

Parkinson said that he intends to personalize the dcor by putting up pictures that he has collected from all the countries he has visited around the globe.

Although Parkinson said jokingly that the bed is his favorite part of the house, it is obvious that the young man is also very proud of the TV stand in the living room, which he is impatient to show visitors upon arrival. The TV stand is a perfect combination of bookcase and TV stand, with the TV screen incorporated in the unit so that it can slide to any position across the width of the unit.

“This is quite cool,” he said. “but it was really expensive, about 25,000 yuan. Normally I wouldn’t spend so much on a TV stand. But we saw it and we just thought we’ve got to have this, it’s so cool. You can move it around.”

Parkinson moved to China five years ago and was starting his own business. To help business grow, he did not spend too much on the refurbishment.

“When I came to China five years ago, I took over a tiny office from the company I worked for, which was then only three people there. My company has now grown it into a large business of about 120 people, with two big offices in Beijing and Shanghai and a small office in Hong Kong. The aim is have five offices in China by the end of next year,” the 31-year-old said ambitiously.

However, Parkinson, unlike many other expats, said he did not want to live anywhere else in China apart from Beijing.

“A lot of expats say they like Shanghai. But I don’t. I much prefer Beijing as a place to live. I also think Beijing is a very interesting place to bring up children, because they live such an international life. I think it teaches people a lot at a young age.”

Of course there are some things that Parkinson dislikes about Beijing such as the pollution, but he said there is much more to like.

“I like Beijing because it’s ancient. I don’t think Beijing is a perfect place, but I do see a lot of energy here.”

Read the whole article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-04/07/content_9693536.htm

Winning the Talent Wars – RMG CEO Robert Parkinson on China Daily

Companies urged to innovate to retain workforce and stay competitive

Despite receiving thousands of applications every month, Mei Yang-mille has been struggling to find the right talent to occupy some key positions in her company.

Yang-mille, who runs the Chinese operation of Karl Storz, the world’s largest endoscope manufacturer, says that as a multinational company, it has no problem in attracting talented people but often finds it hard to recruit skilled and qualified personnel.

“There are people out there, but the number of ‘A class players’ seems to have got smaller,” she says. “So we have to interview lots of people until we get the right ones.”

Yang-mille says the problem has become worse as the company has expanded its operations in China to meet the growing demand for high-quality medical equipment in recent years.

Along with the booming medical device market fueled by strong demand from Chinese hospitals because of larger purchasing budgets and planned infrastructure upgrades, the German company has also had to increase its number of employees.

“There is a gap between supply and demand of qualified medical graduates and professionals,” she says. “And it is unlikely that the gap will be filled in the next five to 10 years as the medical device market is booming in China.”

Yang-mille was speaking at the company’s China headquarters in Xujiahui, the central business district of Shanghai. The company, which has about 220 employees in China, also has bases in Beijing, Shenyang, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

She says the entry barrier in the medical device market is very high and graduates from the Chinese education system often cannot cope with the global standards for medical talent.

“At the entry level, the graduates we need are those on the top of the pyramid,” she says. “They should have comprehensive product knowledge and technical expertise and the capability to work with doctors and medical experts. But in China it is hard to find candidates who meet all the requirements.”

Yang-mille says many Chinese graduates are not qualified because they are good at theory but do not know how to handle projects or work in a team.

“As many of them are from one-child families, they do have weaknesses in teamwork, critical thinking and analyzing ability,” she says. “Compared with their peers in the US and Europe, Chinese graduates appear to be less mature at their age.”

Yang-mille says she was astonished to find that a college graduate brought both of her parents to a job interview because she said she needed them by her side. “I’ve never seen this before, but clearly she will never grow up under the wings of her parents.”

She admits that the good side of Chinese graduates is that they are hardworking, intelligent and willing to learn, which are the qualities needed for any industry.

Because of young graduates’ lack of experience, she says, the company needs to recruit experienced medical professionals to fill mid-to-senior-level positions.

But fierce competition as multinationals poach from each other and a limited source of professionals are causing wage inflation and high turnover.

As a result, Yang-mille says, she has to invest in people to build an early pipeline, creating a culture of coaching, welcoming job rotation and internal promotion, as well as running a talent program for top performers.

She has introduced personality assessments into the hiring process and expanded the company’s recruiting efforts beyond major universities, especially for highly skilled positions such as sales, logistics experts or technical personnel familiar with their products.

“We are quite open-minded in recruiting talent, which means we don’t care whether they are from a certain top university or a less known college, as long as they are qualified for the position,” she says, adding that they have three “I” standards to measure whether the candidate is suitable for the job – integrity, initiative and intelligence.

Of course, there is a danger that the money spent on developing talent could be lost if the employee decides to join a rival, a common problem in many emerging industries.

Yang-mille says she understands the threat well, and the company has been focusing on career development instead of relying on compensation packages, which is a good way to reduce staff turnover, but unsustainable in the long run.

“If an employee is staying in the company only because of an offer of a higher salary, he or she will eventually leave because of that,” she says. “I think the most effective way to retain professionals is to care about their career path and guarantee them that there is no glass ceiling within the company.”

Karl Storz offers a range of career development programs, such as rotating people, combined with regular assessments of employees to determine a suitable career direction.

According to a report by Business Monitor International, the Chinese medical device market is expected to expand by about 15 percent every year over the next five years, while medical device sales are forecast to reach $42.8 billion by 2019.

But a lack of qualified medical professionals may be a continuing drag on business performance in China’s medical equipment industry, says Yang-mille, who plans to increase the number of recruits 15 to 20 percent annually for the next 10 years.

“An investment in staff training and development is a company’s critical success factor,” she says.

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/31/content_15722773.htm

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Finding the Right Fit for Growth – RMG CEO Robert Parkinson on China Daily

Enterprises must have a balanced hiring strategy to stay ahead in China

Everyone in the sphere of professional staffing and human resources in China seems to talk endlessly about a shortage of “talent”. Indeed it seems that this problem is an assumed consequence of a fast developing economy. However, it is simply not true that China lacks talent.

According to thefreedictionary.com, talent means “A person or group of people having natural endowment or ability of a superior quality”. Therefore, when we use the word talent in the context of the general employment market in China, I think what people mean about a “lack of talent” is a lack of workforce engagement exemplified by:

A generation of particularly highly skilled employees who are spoiled for choice and not afraid to show it;

A general trend in the labor force toward uncontrolled and unjustified increasing compensation;

A lack of sense of loyalty to companies

So I would prefer to redefine this group more accurately as a group that is short of motivation, not talent.

When we look at what talent actually means, the key is having skills or experience of a superior quality. China has a huge population of 1.3 billion and has been successful in educating those people. There is no dearth of Chinese “talent” seeking admission to the Ivy League and other top European educational institutions. There has also been a steady flow of Chinese professionals from abroad to the mainland in the last seven years. Most of them are highly educated professionals, in other words real “talent”.

So, combining the huge number of home-grown Chinese graduates with returnees, together with the millions of blue-collar employees who are highly skilled, I find it hard indeed to believe that China lacks talent.

In fact, the case is that China has not yet had the time to properly understood how to manage, motivate and retain the human resources it does abundantly possess. The problems of the  enterprises are not that they lack “talent”, it is that:

They do not know how to retain employees;

There is a lack of engagement in the work;

The preoccupation with the belief that money motivates;

The lack of leadership experience within different corporate hierarchies;

Obsession with status

The true talent for a company is those who best fit the corporate culture and values rather than those who are simply the “smartest” or best-educated. Those who fit the company best means that their skills, knowledge and vision are in accordance with that of the company. For a company to produce and retain as many of these types of staff as possible, it can take measures such as good quality new employee training and induction, leadership training, apprenticeship programs and a focus on “good” corporate culture, etc. These actions will help the company create highly engaged, highly motivated employees.

Companies need to think seriously about how to keep employees, otherwise there is no point in hiring them in the first place. All of the actions and systems need to be based on the fundamental point that it is important you select the right person.

Based on my eight years of experience in China, I have found that there are some key factors needed to transform the existing workforce into one that is highly motivated and engaged and also to retain talent.

1. Money just cannot be the only reason for people to join a company. It is important to understand what it is that really drives new hiring and if it is just money not to proceed with it.

2. Use a fair and clear salary scale.

3. The perceived value of the total pay package is important. Load it with other incentives such as overseas trips, teambuilding nights or recognition systems.

4. A manager should spend more time with new people and know their needs.

5. Once you account for the overall costs, you will understand the necessity to have a well thought-out hiring process.

6. Be aware of the non-verbal communication in hiring and induction process and pay attention to the body language.

7. Trust your instincts.

8. Pay them enough.

Enterprises that are most successful in China today have a good culture, focus on matching values and people rather than obsessing with people’s experience and education. Most importantly, the employers seriously believe in a long-term approach to business.

The author is the founder and managing director of RMG Selection, a recruitment consulting company based in Beijing.

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/31/content_15722774.htm

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Talent Crunch – RMG CEO on China Daily

Gianni Serra, the Asia representative manager of ELS srl, an Italian event management company, is a worried man these days as he cannot find the “ready-to-use” talent needed to get his business up and running in China.

“The education programs in China have not kept pace with global education standards,” says Serra, who is searching for Italian-major graduates in China. “Many of the people I interviewed had good language skills, especially in writing and reading, but lacked in communication and problem solving skills.”

Like Serra, many foreign enterprises and domestic firms are now finding that talent is not just the scarcest commodity in China, but one that is essential to maintain economic momentum.

At first glance, it may sound odd that in a nation of more than 1 billion people, there is a talent shortage. But that is the reality. Though there are no exact numbers to estimate the actual shortfall, it is widespread and not confined to any specific industry. Human resources still remain the most formidable challenge for the big, small and medium-sized firms in China along with the multinational and foreign companies.

More than 59 percent of the 160 China-based respondents in the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual global CEO survey admit that hiring in China has become increasingly difficult. The survey points out that the talent shortage is spread across all sectors, with an acute shortage of senior and middle managers.

According to a study conducted by Manpower Group, 33,000 global employers found that vacancies at the managerial and executive level are more difficult to fill in China than in other countries.

Such findings have serious implications for both foreign multinationals and State-owned enterprises and private companies, especially as many of the latter are nursing global ambitions.

Arthur Yeung, academic advisor to the Executive Education Program of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, says demand for skilled and well-educated people has outpaced the supply in China, especially after the economy has moved into the high value-added mode.

“The talent shortage in China is acute and a major source of concern for local companies and foreign multinationals,” says Yeung, who is also the Philips Chair Professor of Human Resource Management. “China used to be a manufacturing-driven economy, where there are a large population of blue-collar workers and factory managers to manage the process. But ever since it shifted its focus from manufacturing to high value-added industries, the challenge of attracting and retaining staff has gone up.”

“The shortage of talent could slow China’s growth as productivity gains slow,” he says.

Growing demand

Robert Parkinson, CEO and founder of RMG International Business Consulting (Beijing) Co Ltd, a recruitment consultancy, says that China has grown so rapidly in the past decade that the demand for talent is not able to match the potential for domestic growth.

“The US took nearly 60 years after World War II to achieve the kind of growth that China has done in 25 years. So naturally, you will be more stable if you grow more slowly,” he says.

China might have a vast pool of low-cost labor, supplying everything from textiles, toys and computer chips in a short time. But the “China speed”, the pace at which products are designed and factories are equipped, appears to have hit a speed bump when it comes to creating qualified graduates.

A report published in June by McKinsey Global Institute says that China will still face a shortage of about 23 million college-educated workers by 2020, despite producing the most college graduates in the world.

Fewer than 10 percent of the Chinese job candidates on average would be suitable for employment in a foreign company, the report says.

Learning gap

Parkinson at RMG International Business Consulting explains why many graduates, despite good paper qualifications, are often said to be unable to adapt themselves to the working environment, which often plays a major role in the talent shortage issue.

He says the Chinese educational system focuses on learning a lot of facts and curricula rather than teaching people to think creatively.

“In China’s education system there is general focus on specific experience and technical ability rather than the ability to lead, manage and market,” Parkinson says.

“In the US and Europe, there has been an economic boom for the last 30 years, and halfway through that, people started to realize that it was not good to be a specialist in just one technical area. The ability to sell, think out of the box, and imbibe transferable skills are more important than knowing how the factory production line works.”

Employers are facing a shortage of talent across a broad range of industries, but the fiercest demand is for skilled and experienced workers in sectors with huge growth potential.

In the accounting industry, the demand for qualified Chinese accountants has skyrocketed in the past decade, as a growing number of private and State-owned enterprises are seeking public listings both at home and abroad.

“The growing complexity of accounting management has made it difficult for audit firms to find experienced accountants,” says the managing partner of a local audit firm, on condition of anonymity.

“We can’t grow fast if we don’t have access to qualified people.”

Elisa Mallis, chair of the Human Resources Working Group of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, says for European companies the talent shortage is at all levels but more acute in the leadership rungs.

“In China, many people become managers much earlier than expected. So there is a lack of experience and specific leadership competencies compared with their global counterparts, especially in strategic thinking, being highly adaptive, collaborative and open and in skills related to empowerment and people development,” she says.

Cherol Cheuk, general manager of Hudson Shanghai, an international recruitment company, says with rising domestic consumption, not only will the demand for goods and services go up, but also the demand for skilled people in service sectors.

“If you look at the healthcare industry, it is the only industry that has not been affected by the global economic turmoil,” she says. “Since most Chinese people are moving up to the middle class level, they are also now more keen than ever to ensure longer life with proper healthcare facilities. So there is a huge demand for such services, especially in medical business and allied sectors like biotechnology and medical equipment.”

According to a report by Antal International China, a global executive recruitment organization, China’s most talent-demanding sectors are luxury goods, hospitality, leisure, finance, retail and healthcare.

“These industries are all service-oriented, probably because the concept of ‘excellent service’ is still quite new in China,” says Sarah Jones, head of operations at Antal International China. “The talent shortage mainly lies in the mid to senior-level bracket, due to the fact that very few candidates have the required five years’ experience needed to fill those positions.”

A limited supply of talent and the increasing challenge of recruitment are also resulting in high turnover rates.

A report by Hudson shows that across all sectors in China, 52 percent of the employees remained with one employer for two years or less, while 7 percent remained for more than four years.

A similar survey of China’s business climate by AmCham-China in 2011 showed that the voluntary turnover rate had risen to 20 percent in 2010, the highest rate in the last decade.

Foreign multinationals increasingly report that their employees are leaving to join State-owned enterprises and private companies rather than the previous common practice of switching from job to job in search of ever-higher paying jobs at foreign companies, the report says. The rise of Chinese global employers will place additional pressures on multinational employers to retain their top talent, it concludes.

China’s executives and leaders are now looking at alternative strategies such as internal training and building a larger base of potential managers including those from overseas.

Jones at Antal International China says human resource directors need to rethink their recruitment strategies in China, as “hiring expats for professional and managerial positions does not appear to be a sustainable solution, as they hardly understand local culture and business style”.

Zhou Xing, assurance partner of PwC China, says that good company culture, training and promoting recruits are key to keeping a low turnover rate.

“We are doing what we can to help them grow and learn new regulations and rules of accounting as well as other soft skills for career development and give them a clear and attractive career path and a sense of pride of being part of the company,” Zhou says. “Most of our mid-to-senior managers are from entry-level positions and have been working in the company for more than 10 years.”

She says the turnover of PwC China remains close to 15 percent, an average of the global turnover in the auditing industry, meaning that the staff are quite satisfied with the current working conditions.

PwC China hired about 1,900 graduates in 2012 from more than 18,000 applicants, an increase of 18 percent over the previous year.

“We don’t have any problems in hiring raw recruits, and most of them are very intelligent, hardworking and willing to take the initiative,” Zhou says.

But some argue that despite the fact that multinational companies train and promote managers from entry-level positions, the process is time-consuming and costly.

“Sometimes companies have a very shortened timeframe within which to develop their staff into senior leaders, and it will take several years for these employees to be future leaders of the organization,” says Yeung at CEIBS in Shanghai.

“So I think companies need to accelerate the process, provide select employees with special training and mentoring to put them on a fast track to secure future company management positions.”

Government strategy

In recognition of the risks of talent constraints on business, the Chinese government rolled out its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) outlining a strategy for finding and nurturing talent, with the idea of bringing 2,000 skilled Chinese home all in an effort to meet the country’s pressing talent demand.

The program is aimed at encouraging experienced engineers, scientists and other experts of Chinese origin back from the West to grow more domestic companies into the ranks of the world’s top 500 companies.

The commencement of MBA courses in many colleges is also testament to the government’s effort in increasing the education level of China’s workforce and to build an innovation economy.

China’s business schools such as CEIBS in Shanghai and the Guanghua School of management at Peking University now rank among the top business schools in the world.

However, some say that China is not a good breeding ground for training talent, and if China is not able to provide a more competitive and creative environment, it cannot generate talent.

“I think how people are going to be managed needs to be changed in China, because people need to realize that the kind of ‘top-down’, ‘managing to please the boss’ is not good in a modern competitive enterprise,” says Parkinson of RMG.

“If you have a culture that encourages ideas and criticism and people work there not just for the money, then you have a sustainable development in your company.”

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/31/content_15722771.htm

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Paying the Price for Your Work Experience – RMG CEO on China Daily in July

Internships offer students the chance to gain knowledge of life outside the academic world, but the downside is that many posts are unpaid and stressful. Shi Jing reports from Shanghai.

It’s summer in China and that means three things: sweltering heat, mosquitoes, and college students working as interns.

The first two are “grin and bear it” situations, but the third may be subject to change. The students are ready to embrace what may be their first-ever job and are likely to be close to the top of their game physically and mentally. Financially, though, there are questions. Most interns are paid the bare minimum – if they’re paid at all.

Ye Mengying, a senior majoring in Chinese literature at Beijing Normal University, is currently working as an intern at the Senior High School in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The post is unpaid, but Ye seems quite content.

“Although as an intern I am not paid, life here is so much better than in Beijing. I spend about 4 yuan (60 US cents) a day on commuting and 10 yuan on lunch. Apart from attending other teachers’ classes, doing the marking and teaching some senior students, there isn’t much more to do. All the students and teachers here are so amiable, which makes life even more enjoyable,” she said.

The subject of payment is problematic. Some see internships as a way for students to acquire useful experience of work and life away from college, while others view the practice as little short of exploitation.

“Historically, apprentices to craftspeople received free housing and food, thorough training and a marketable credential upon completion of their service,” said Matthew H. Hersch, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania who researches labor history, in a recent interview with The New York Times.

“Replacing salaried staff with desperate young people willing to toil for a slim chance at future paid work is worse than medieval. It’s bad for the employer and bad for society.”

Legal action

Not every low-wage intern is as content as Ye. Complaints about unrewarding and stressful internships are often aired on the social media site, Weibo, and some interns have even resorted to legal action to resolve what they see as unfair treatment.

But Wang Zhong, a lawyer specializing in labor law at the Shanghai branch of the Zhong Yin Law Firm, said there is nothing illegal in companies not paying interns and the recently introduced minimum wage does not apply in this case.

“The labor law is not applicable to interns. An employee-employer relationship between the intern and the company does not exist, not even as a factual labor relationship. The intern’s status is still that of a student, not a worker. In that sense, it is totally rational that the company need not offer any payment,” said Wang.

“Universities usually pay large sums every year to persuade companies and institutions to take their students as interns. The experience gained through the placement and the opportunity to enter society at an earlier age constitute a different form of payment,” he said.

Wendy Zhao is a senior at Shanghai Institute of Technology majoring in German language. As an intern with TUV Rheinland, a German provider of technical services, Zhao has had better luck than Ye in terms of payment.

“I have not come across or heard of any interns who are not paid by their companies. State-owned companies usually pay 800 yuan a month. A few even pay a bonus of 200 yuan. Multinational companies usually pay their interns 80 to 120 yuan a day,” she said.

The glamorous levels of intern wages shown on the international salary-exchange website Glassdoor have dazzled some unpaid interns. The companies offering the highest payment, including Yahoo, Amazon, Apple or Google, see the average US intern earning $4,500 a month.

The website’s Chinese counterpart, Fenzhi, keeps an eye on the vagaries of intern payment rates in China. The average monthly intern payment it has monitored nationwide was about 2,189 yuan at the beginning of July. Accenture Xi’an, for example, pays its graphic-design interns 120 yuan a day.

Yang Benli, a junior at Fudan University, is currently working as an intern at the website news.163. Compared with many of his peers, he is relatively well remunerated.

“I am paid 1,500 yuan a month, and I can save on commuting fees if I take the school bus. But if I miss it, I have to pay about 10 yuan a day to take the metro,” said the 22-year-old journalism major.

Yang is fortunate enough to assume some hands-on tasks. His work mainly revolves around writing news stories, conducting interviews and making cold calls. Although he finds aspects of the work interesting, Yang will be relieved when it ends.

“If my opinions clash with those of my boss. I speak out. But on the whole, I find the job quite rewarding. However, what I’m most looking forward to is the end of my internship and enrolling for driving classes with the money I’ve earned,” he said.

His ambivalence was echoed by Wendy Zhao, who “did not give too much thought to internships, because my original plan for the summer was to study and be well prepared for my thesis”.

“I read the wanted ad on a job website and sent my resume to the company right away. But I was really taken by surprise when they called and told me I could have an internship. I’d waited a month without hearing from them and so I figured someone else had got the job. Then the company asked me to come in as soon as possible, so that I could enter a real office environment early on. So that’s why I am here,” she said.

“Meanwhile, I have signed a three-party agreement with the company and the university. Hopefully, the company will hire me officially when the internship ends, because I have been working extremely hard, doing overtime occasionally too. I have even worked during the weekend. It would be a great loss to the company if they just let me go,” laughed Zhao.

“So far, my colleagues have been quite nice to me. But that’s because I have been keeping a low profile. I’m used to hearing students complaining about internships. Some full-time staff often push work onto interns if they don’t feel like doing it. Therefore, interns have to handle all kinds of chores assigned by different people, on top of their own work. I’ve experienced that sort of thing, but I always tell myself the more I do, the more I learn,” she said.

“If I get other job opportunities, the things I have learned here will be of little help. If I have learned anything useful, it is to be fearless in the face of demanding, fast-paced or tough work because I’ve been working like crazy in my current position,” she said.

“Internships are an excellent way of gaining practical and social experience and development in a short period of time. Indeed, I know of students who have completed at least five internships – that gave them a tremendous advantage when they finally started their careers,” said Robert Parkinson, CEO and founder of RMG Business Consulting (Beijing).

“I don’t believe people should be paid a salary for working a very short space of time. Really, the experience is a reward or payment in itself. Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to have rich parents to support them, and we cannot expect students to lose money, so what is reasonable is daily reimbursement for travel and eating expenses,” he said.

“People should see the first one to five years of their career (including internships) as an ‘investment period’ where they listen, learn, and carve a niche for themselves. The great financial and status rewards will come to those who work hard, learn, and do the best in those early years,” he added.

Professional advice

Some companies and institutions seek professional advice on internship payment standards to avoid unnecessary headaches.

Jessica Xu, senior manager and consultant of Foreign Education and International Exchanges at the International Training Center of Shanghai Foreign Services Co said that companies she has advised often have stronger autonomy over internship payments. Her company’s role is to offer advice on the details.

“The companies that cooperate with us offer their interns 30 to 50 yuan per day. For overseas interns, the payment is usually higher, sometimes double, but cases like that are quite rare. They only receive that level of pay if they have a type of professional knowledge that is difficult to find in the market,” said Xu.

“Generally speaking, companies will offer subsidy or reimbursement for interns. For an internship lasting more than three months, we usually suggest that companies offer some payment. But a period shorter than that is usually unpaid,” she said.

It is more usual for interns to be paid if their positions are directly related to the company’s performance. Those expected to complete a project or advance a technique within a certain time frame will also be paid, said Xu.

“The labor laws in China have not explicitly ruled on payments for interns, neither have overseas labor laws. Internship payment is not compulsory. In other words, the right is in the company’s hands,” she added.

TUV’s Wendy Zhao doesn’t think it unreasonable that students expect to gain more than just experience from their period of work. She admitted that she has learned some valuable lessons, but they’re possibly not the ones usually associated with internships.

“The certificate issued by TUV should be the most substantial result I have earned here. However, the lessons that will really stay with me are these: To always keep a low profile and be prepared to learn at any time. Only in this way can a newcomer maintain a good relationship with colleagues and progress on a career path.”

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2012-07/22/content_15606325.htm

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