Chinese students get a taste of Europe work life

Fri Dec 2, 2011 9:05am EST
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By Clare Kane

LONDON (Reuters) - Shan Jie has been working at the Radisson hotel in central London since July, waitressing in one of the restaurants or setting up for conferences.

The friendly 24-year-old laughs as she remembers how many glasses she broke by accident when she first started. Now she has settled into her job, where she is the only Chinese employee.

"Some of my colleagues ask me how to say things in Chinese. When they see me, they always say 'ni hao' (hello)," she said.

European bosses are saying "ni hao" a lot more these days.

Over the past couple of years companies across the region have begun to offer Chinese students internships, sometimes with Beijing's backing, sometimes without.

Everybody wins: the local businesses get a link to China and an employee who speaks fluent Chinese for any Chinese customers, and the student gets workplace experience overseas.

Coming from a country where more than six million people graduate every year, that extra edge is essential.

A foreign degree used to be a ticket to a secure job, but now Chinese who stay at home for their university education have an advantage over students who return from overseas with plenty of academic qualifications but little practical experience.   Continued...

<p>Shan Jie poses for a portrait at her workplace, the Bloomsbury Radisson hotel in London November 24, 2011. Picture taken November 24, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris</p>