GRIP, Internships Abroad Letter to My Pre-Internship Self

September 27, 2021
By Jessie Zou, WHARTON '23

B&D Law Firm - Beijing, China

Hi Jessie!

This is the future Jessie from after completing the internship. I am sure that you are excited to start your law internship at B&D Law (based in Beijing, China) this summer. I wanted to pop in to share my experiences with you and the future GRIP participants to better prepare you all! Here are a few pointers I wanted to cover to make sure you make the best out of this internship!

What to do now before starting the internship:

  • Block out time out of your schedule for work and make sure to communicate to family and friends your work schedule (especially when working from home).
  • Take time to think about what you really want out of this internship and ways you can make sure you accomplish this goal throughout your time.
  • Do some preliminary research on the host company, their past and current projects, and the sector you will be working in to build a strong foundation before you even begin working.

During the internship, I faced a few surprising difficulties, and they took a while for me to overcome. Here are the difficulties I faced and some ways you can mitigate them:

  • Differing time zones can impact your work experience a lot more than you actually think! With having an 11-hour difference with my host company, I felt lonely at times. When I was working, my team was sleeping, and vice versa.
    • Adjust the work schedule to have some overlapping work hours to work with your team and ask questions.
  • Due to the time zone difficulties, constant communication was not possible.
    • Set recurring weekly/biweekly meetings with supervisor and team. Check-in with messaging apps more frequently to stay connected.
  • Work/life balance is a lot harder than you would think when working from home.
    • Communicate with family your work schedule and highlight the importance of no distractions. While at work, be strict with yourself and stay diligent.

Things I wish I did during my internship:

  • Reaching out to my team more and other people in the office that I didn’t directly work with to build more relationships and make my internship more enriching.
  • Asked more questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification if you don’t understand something or just want more information.
  • Scheduled more regular calls with my supervisors and teammates.

With all that being said, I had an enjoyable time at my internship! I learned a lot professionally and personally. I was able to explore the industry at the intersection of business and law as well as better skills like time management and organization. I hope these tips will help you make your internship experience even better! The most important you can do is to enjoy your internship.

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.