Monday, June 30, 2008

Now that you are here, what would you like to do?

The first full week of my internship was full of learning about how Chinese offices work. My manager has a very relaxed and hands-off style as far as I can tell so far. Planning here is also not done in advance; the course of action is usually decided right before you begin something. I wasn’t sat down and told what I should accomplish in my time as an intern but rather was asked the question “So what would you like to learn while you are here?” Very flexible! I think one reason they are flexible is because they have not had a foreign intern before. During the first week for a few hours each day one of the workers explained to me part of her job. I also had a lot of time to study things on my own.

I think one big difference between Americans and Chinese is their thoughts on planning and time. When doing business in America you say “Ok we will meet at 3:15 pm” and everyone should show up on time. I have noticed in my office that when people plan things they don’t use specific times, rather they say “Well lets meet this afternoon.” That may mean 2 or 4 pm depending on when they get around to things.

So what is the logistics business like in Southern China? Very competitive! Since this area is heavy in manufacturing the will naturally be many exports from the local ports. H&T is a freight forwarder which means they are the third party in the shipping business. They contact clients (sometimes manufacturers or exporters) and book spaces on the large ships that carry the containers around the world. They also handle all of the paperwork to make sure they customer in the final destination gets their goods.

So do all of the containers go straight to America and fill Wal-Mart’s warehouses? No! Many of the shipments that this company handles go to other countries like Japan, Malaysia, India, Chile, and Europe. H&T is the general agent for IRISL in Southern China. IRISL is an Iranian company which is interesting to me because in America we would not be doing business with this country. It is interesting to be in a different country that has different allies than America.

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