How To Find An Internship in China – the 2024 Guide

One of the most important steps a university student can take is to complete an internship (or two!) before graduating.

Is it still possible to get a high-quality internship even while you are studying in China on a student visa?

Yes! It is entirely possible to have an internship while a full-time student at a Chinese university. Don’t be daunted by the internship application process!

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire journey of finding an internship in China so you can make the most out of your experience. 

The Basics: Interning as a Student

If you are studying at a Chinese university as a full-time student, you will most likely be in China on a student X visa. This visa is for anyone who comes to China for study, advanced studies, or an internship for a period of more than six months. It’s legal to have internships while on this visa as long as you meet the conditions below.

The visa types:

  • F-visas is issued to a foreign citizen who is invited to China for a visit, research, lecture, business, exchanges in the fields of science, technology or culture, advanced study, for a period of no more than 6 months.
  • M Visa is Issued to those who are going to China for commercial and trade activities.
  • L-visas (Tourist) are strictly for tourism and should not be used for internships.
  • X-visas (Student), especially long-term ones, are the most appropriate visas for internships.
  • S-visas are for internships in certain high-tech zones.

visa process

It is legal to be paid as an intern in China provided you meet the following conditions: To be paid a full salary, the company needs to pay the relevant taxes and you must have an internship visa (more on this visa below). To pursue this option, you will need to speak to a reputable visa agent and your company. Many companies may also offer you a stipend to cover your food and transportation costs. Unlike a salary, this stipend on average is 50-100 RMB a day and is not a significant income. The final amount you will be paid as an intern is up to the company, and your own negotiations, to determine. However, there are many benefits to interning to keep in mind besides just earning money!

As of January 2022, it is now legal for students to have part-time employment in China (aka work-study). Read about the policy here.

If you are looking for a full-time job in China, check out our guide here: How to Find a Job In China: Companies Hiring Foreigners

Disclaimer: This visa information is correct as of Jan 2022, and the situation may change during Covid-19. Please make sure to check the latest visa information with the Chinese consulate or embassy such as here, your company and reputable visa agents.

Universities often have recruitment events to meet companies.

Is it better to intern, work-study, or have a full-time job in China?

If you are a student (on X1 or X2 visa in China with a valid residence permit) you can intern OR take a part-time work-study. New 2022 regulations allow students to work in China either on or off-campus, read more here.

Which one should you choose? Here is a comparison:

Visa Type Paid or not? Length of time Eligibility Best suited for
Internship X1 or X2, or S Sometimes paid Usually a few months Students can intern Students wanting professional experience
Work-Study X1 or X2 Paid according to local minimum wage No more than 1 year Students can work-study Students wanting extra income
Full-time job Z Paid according to contracted salary According to work contract Non-students Non-students seeking full time employment

Why should international students intern in China?

The most obvious benefit of interning is work experience and career advancement. According to data from the US-based National Association of Colleges and Employers, 70% of companies offer their interns full-time jobs, and most prefer to hire candidates with internship experience. Not only will a Chinese internship strengthen your resume, but you’ll also have personal experience working with Chinese colleagues and overcoming cultural barriers. 

“What will you do after graduating?” This is a question many students dread, but an internship can actually help you figure this out! An up-close look at Chinese working life can help you decide whether you want to stay in China after graduating or pursue opportunities elsewhere. In your internship, you’ll learn about professional life in the city and make friends with locals and expats in your field. You may even find you love China more than you thought! 

Finally, Chinese companies are actively looking to recruit international students with global experience and fluency in English or other languages. The stereotype of interns stuck buying coffee for the office is over. Many Chinese companies and startups depend on their interns as crucial parts of their operations and treat their interns as essential parts of the team.

As an international student with diverse experience in multiple countries and foreign markets, you are positioned to be an important asset to companies. Internships in China are available in a wide variety of fields: tech to marketing, consulting to art, media to fashion. 

How to find an internship in China

When job searching in China, networks and personal connections are your best friend. The Chinese term for personal relationships is Guanxi (关系), and can refer to anything from you having a good friendship with your roommates to networking with potential employers. It’s extremely common to land an internship through a personal recommendation or introduction, so don’t neglect this principle.

Going out, meeting more people and going to events and building relationships can play an important part in finding opportunities in China.

Building Relationships

Here are some key steps to start building your guanxi:

  • Join student groups, both in-person and online chat groups.
  • Follow your university’s career center account and attend campus career fairs.
  • Meet with your professors to share your career aspirations and ask for their professional advice.
  • Stay active on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, as many companies share open positions through their WeChat accounts or job group chats. 
  • You can also reach out to China Admissions, and we can help introduce you to a company!

Don’t be nervous about relying on personal networks to find work. It’s a sign that people trust you and are willing to help you achieve your aspirations. In addition to a solid resume, a personal introduction allows your personality and style to shine. Though this may be a culture shock to you, don’t be afraid to ask for the opportunity you want. And don’t forget to pass the guanxi on to others: share your own advice and opportunities with the jobseekers coming after you. 

While you’re building your guanxi, there’s still a lot you can do on your own. 

Watch Schwarzman Scholar graduate Jonathan Lopez discuss his path to finding work in China using guanxi and hard work:

Search Online

We have a list of companies hiring foreigners in China. If you don’t know where to begin, check out these companies as a starting point.

You can also look into paid internship programs, where you pay a fee to be placed in a vetted internship.

Check our listings here: the Hutong School in Shanghai and the GIIP Business internship at Fudan University.

Of course, it is crucial to prepare a resume and cover letter. If you have good Chinese, consider making a resume in Chinese as well. 

China Admissions Internship Service

China Admissions also has an internship and career arrangement service. We will work with you to help you find career opportunities in China. You can learn more about it here.

What if I’m not in China?

How can you get an internship if you are not in China? If you cannot be in China right now due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, don’t lose hope! It is still possible to intern remotely with a Chinese company. Reach out to companies to see if they would be open to remote interns. Though you may not be in the physical office, a remote internship is still a wonderful chance to work in your field.

Start by preparing an excellent resume to send to the companies of your choice. Follow the WeChat accounts or social media of the companies you are interested in and contact them to see if they offer remote opportunities for interns.

Working remotely is becoming more and more common, and many Chinese companies are flexible.

How to register your Chinese internship

Once you have received an internship offer, it’s time to register your new workplace with your city’s local Entry-Exit Bureau and get an internship visa. There are several steps to this process:

  1. Contact your university and let them know you want to do an internship. They will provide documentation, which you can submit to your company for their approval.
  2. You will need to submit this documentation, including the certification of an internship offer, to the local Entry-Exit Bureau to apply for an internship visa.
  3. The internship visa costs 400 RMB, and will be given to you in 5-7 business days.

Remember that only the Chinese version of your internship contract is legally binding (unless otherwise stated in the contract). If you have signed a formal internship contract, have a friend or teacher help read the Chinese contract to see if it matches with the English version.

If you are located outside of China at the time of your internships, there is no need to register.

Joining a Chinese workplace

Once you begin your internship, you may notice some differences between Chinese office culture and that of your home country. Here are some tips to help you know what to expect:

  • WeChat, China’s biggest messaging app, is commonly used in the workplace. There almost certainly is an office group chat. It’s quite common for your boss or coworkers to message you on WeChat, even outside formal working hours. Learn and follow the communication practices of the office.
  • Hard work and dedication are valued in Chinese workplaces. It is not uncommon for workers to stay overtime to complete their tasks. Remember to keep a healthy balance between work and studies. If constant overtime work is a problem, you can ask for formal working hours to be added to your contract.
  • In China, some companies may not have a formal “intern program” or supervisor to help train you. Don’t be alarmed at being “thrown in the deep end.” Use the opportunity to reach out to your colleagues and find mentors who can help you learn your way around the office.
  • If you are interested in full-time employment after graduation, be sure to tell your company. They may be willing to support you along that path and help you figure out your visa options to pursue post-grad work in China. 
  • Want to work in China after graduation? Learn more here: Find a Job in China.

Overall, remember to enjoy the experience! An internship will give you a broader perspective on life in China, so take the time to savor this unique opportunity. 

Fudan MBA program helps students to get involved in internships through their iLab. Students participate in a discussion with Raise 3D Technologies, a printing solutions company that has participated in the iLab for two consecutive years.  More info about Fudan iLab is here.

What if I don’t get an internship offer?

Don’t panic! There are many ways to get professional and cultural experience without leaving campus. Here’s how to build guanxi and develop your professional life on university grounds: 

  • Take a leadership position in a student organization. Many universities have international student groups for different regions of the world. 
  • Pay attention to volunteer opportunities around campus by checking university notice boards or group chats. Universities often recruit student workers for campus events. 
  • Build good relationships with your professors. Some of them may be recruiting student researchers or editorial assistants, and you may even get paid for this work!
  • Attend networking and cultural events around the city (examples: Viva Beijing Professional Women’s Network, ThinkIN China, Ladies Who Tech, Spittoon Collective, The Shanghai Literary Review, TedX, Beehive, StartupGrind etc.)

It is also legal now for international students who meet certain conditions to find part-time work in China while studying. Read more here.

Finding an internship in China may seem overwhelming at first, but the process is completely doable and extremely rewarding. Don’t be nervous to take the first step into a unique and fulfilling professional life!

More Tips?

Check out this interview with Petros Djakouris with some more advice about how to find career opportunities in China

Have any questions?

Let us know in the comments below! Or book a free call with us here.

Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman
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2 years ago

Hi, are all schools in Shanghai able to provide internship documentation? I spoke to my school at Shanghai Dianji university and they acted like they didn’t even know what I was talking about.

nabeel ahmed
nabeel ahmed
1 year ago

it is possible intership in china under gradeute? i pass 12th 2008 and i want pertical traning in chinese companies

poslm lmas
poslm lmas
1 year ago

it possible now to get in person internship if im outside china

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