Internship week - Interning at Windoor City

06 February 2018

Innovation Management student Philipp Gerhard Linstedt has studied a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Sociology at Copenhagen Business School and spent the autumn semester interning at Windoor City, which is China’s largest window manufacturer.

Why did you want to intern at Windoor City?

I had the opportunity to intern at a large international company in Beijing, but after having gotten used to living in Beijing, I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone again. Gaobeidian City is located 100 kilometres southwest of Beijing, and I think I was the only westerner in this city, so I wanted to see if could handle working in a traditional Chinese company so to speak.

How did you get the position?

A friend of my father came to China for business and he had heard that I was living in Beijing, so he called me up and asked if I wanted to join him in a meeting with a Chinese business partner to experience what it was like. I of course said yes and I got to meet the director, who was a super cool guy. Then a month later he invited me for lunch in Beijing and basically offered me an internship. So, I had this awesome opportunity to work for a Chinese company, and I decided to take the internship.

What did you do?

Because I was their first intern there wasn’t really a benchmark for what I should do, so I could contribute a lot and I got a lot of freedom, for instance I presented the idea of building a LinkedIn page for them, which is really important for awareness in the west. So, I was encouraged to go and make it. At the company, we didn’t have anything to show visitors, so I suggested to make a leaflet and my boss said I should go for it and instructed my colleagues to support me with whatever I needed. It was amazing.

The big thing I did during my time here was help arrange the Windoor Festival, which is a professional three-day fair attended by 60-70.000 people from companies in the building material industries from all over the world. For this event, I worked with translations and general communication between Western business partners and my host company, which gave me a good understanding of what went on in the company.

What did you learn?

Every now and then business partners, prospective clients or these kinds of people came from other companies, and because I was the only western guy I was invited to take part in the meetings with our CEO, COO and the foreign company’s top management. I went to some really Chinese business dinners, drank baijiu and it was really amazing.

So, I learned how to do business in China. Now I know more about how to do negotiations and account management across Western and Chinese culture – now it is easier for me to spot potential pit falls and the tacit stuff that is really hard to explain.

Being in a Chinese company was great and being able to do all of this stuff, because I was different, was cool. My Chinese got better and I can now small talk with people, but mainly I just talked with people from my department. That was often quite superficial, so of course, that created some secluded moments.

What is next for you?

I will come back to Windoor City in the beginning of 2018 and do a lot of interviews for my Master’s thesis. My boss said that I could interview anyone from the organisation, so I think that will give me a really good collection of data and then I am going to Indonesia to write my Master’s thesis on the beach.

I don’t think I will stay in China after graduation. However, I think my internship has opened up a lot of opportunities, because a lot of companies want to go to China and understand Chinese business and customers. So, it wouldn't be too hard to find a cool job here, but I also want to find somewhere to work in the West. Then after a couple years maybe I could go back. I definitely want to stay somewhat connected to China.

Through the high-level contacts I have made here I think I am well positioned for finding a job. I might be able to go straight through to the interview processes, because I have a relation to the people I could end up working with. In that sense, the internship has helped a lot.

Another option could be graduate programs and in that regard my internship is an advantage, as they often state that you have to be flexible, be OK with relocating and possibly live abroad, and it is really easy to show them that I have no problem with going to foreign country.