My life in a blog

IMBA Chinese Track student at The University of South Carolina, Moore Business School, I'm currently living in Columbia, SC and traveling all over the place

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Internhip Experience (part 2)

Journal Entry #2 - June 2008:

Sometimes, it is difficult for me to imagine that I live and work in China. For someone who has never been here before, it could sound a little crazy to go through this experience: a Romanian that went to an American IMBA program and ended up in China. Being here for more than a year has made it so that it feels very natural to call Beijing my home and it’s great!

My workday normally starts around 7:30 in the morning when I repeatedly hit the buzzer a few times until I finally get up 15 minutes later. Living ten minutes away from the office gives me the comfort to extend my sleep and morning preparations and still make it to the office around nine.

For most foreign companies in Beijing, an 8:30 or 9:00 AM to 5:30 or 6:00 PM work schedule is the most common. This includes a one-hour break that is generally from 12 to 1. This is when almost everyone goes out for lunch, generally in a group environment. Around the building I work in, one can find anything from typical Chinese dumplings or pancakes (a 5 yuan or 70 cents lunch) to hamburgers, steaks or pasta that run for at least 40 yuan or 6 bucks. And no, we don’t get a one hour nap time after lunch like other Chinese companies… bummer!!

I work at Apple Inc., where the official written language is English and it is generally not difficult to keep up with emails or any other written materials. I work in the retail development department where most of the other workers are Chinese so I do my best to use a combination of Chinese and English to express what I would like. For example:

那个 performance 的分析,我觉得还要 update 用一些新的 data ” or "Na ge performance de fen xi, wo jue de hai yao update yong yi xie xin de data" Translates into:

"I think that performance report needs some update using new data" ( I’m sure anyone could understand what the sentence was saying with no prior Chinese experience.)

Generally, this is how typical office and meeting discussions sound like, so overall I can keep up with whatever is to be discussed because most of the time the key words are in English.

Rusu_006The culture inside the company is just like one would expect for Apple office place. It is an open, flat, relaxed working environment with very approachable people and the organization itself is non-hierarchical, which is not typical of a Chinese work place. The office has a good mixture of both foreign and local employees, most of them with previous working experience within a multinational or international environment. My team mainly consists of three people: Dawei or David, in English, who is the Head Business Analyst, Alice, my supervisor, as Director of Retail Development and myself.

My very first project was to try to adapt myself as quickly as possible to working on a Mac computer. As an experienced PC user, I thought that it would take me a little while to get used to making presentations on Keynote, use Mail or the Mac Excel. However, because of the intuitive functions and applications of my new computer friend, I was up and running in no time. All I could only think was “I should have tried the Macs earlier.“ After two or three weeks, I was already a “Mac guy,” foreseeing a future switch to a Mac as my personal computer as well.

The first project where I started to learn more about Apple operations in the region involved a thoughtful analysis of the Asian high end retail sector in order to support the senior management making decisions about possible flagship store locations. For this, I first had to go through some of our existing APR locations and understand what makes those places an attractive retail environment. Afterwards, connecting with country representatives and real estate agencies, along with my own research, I managed to get a good feel of the retail sector in the region. My final report was a compilation of the top forty cities across Asia with retail, market and sales data information as well as recommended locations for the stores. Dr. Philipoom’s Decision Analysis was a real lifesaver for my first accomplishment during this internship.

Rusu_005 In March, a group of eleven class of ‘09 IMBA global trackers came over to China for the first time in the history of our program. Accompanied by Dr. David Hudgens and Dr. Hong Yen, they visited several companies in both Beijing and Shanghai where they learned about the company operations in the Mainland. One afternoon was dedicated to visiting the Apple office and learning from our staff about the company’s operations is Asia. Every department in the company was represented at the meeting, including our Apple Asia’s General Manager, who is a Moore alumni. Therefore, everyone present got to understand the different lines of business the company is currently pursuing and enjoyed a whole afternoon spent with the Apple team.

During their stay in Beijing, the Chinese trackers and other alumni got together on several occasions to show our Global classmates how the “locals” live, eat and party, turning them envious of not joining the Chinese track before. Hahahaha…

This is it for now. In my next entry I will talk about sports and work activities as well as more details about my internship.