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Young interns want to get ahead

ARE high school students a bit too young to be operating in an office environment? Shanghai's international students don't think so - it seems to be common practice now among international high school students to apply for internships in their junior or senior years.

In Shanghai, Chinese interns are usually expected to be university students, working as interns to gain experience in the field of their chosen major. During high school, local students find it impossible to find time for an internship in the face of the Chinese college entrance examination.

"During the last years of high school, there was no other choice but to study," says Sunny Yan, a Tongji University graduate.

In contrast, a significant number of Shanghai's international high school students, from Shanghai American School to Dulwich International, intern in various Shanghai companies. Concordia International School Shanghai even has an internship program for its junior and senior students during the last two weeks of the school year.

The international high school students who apply for internships in Shanghai appear unfazed by the fact that they will be competing with university-level students.

"As long as you're motivated to do so, you can get things done and at a level comparable to interns of any age," says Jessica Tsu, who is interning at the Hotel Pravo. She will be a senior next year at the SMIC Private School in Zhangjiang High-tech Park.

Young interns are motivated by the need to get ahead. Alex Lee, a recent high school graduate and an intern at the Shanghai Harvard Center, offered his opinion:

"Being a good intern is, in itself, evidence that you have the capability, mentality and maturity needed to take on the real world environment. If you have this sort of dedication and wit as a high school student, as well as work experience, just imagine what you can do in university," says Lee.


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