By Leah Hui: Tourism Marketing Assistant at China Travel Outbound; University of Sussex Class of 2016 Graduate.
What a thrilling half a year it’s been. I started as an intern at China Travel Outbound on 14 November 2016, a date that’s been eternally etched into my brain – it’s surprising to me how different my life was this time last year, so how did I get here?!
Why did you want to work at CTO?
I remember scrolling through the university careers page and seeing the job role for CTO pop up. After reading the description, I thought “Hmm… this looks interesting” and immediately applied for the role. It involved various forms of writing mixed in with social media and helping out behind the scenes, a perfect blend. There was also the added bonus of getting to learn about the Chinese travel market which is an area personally, even if biologically, close to my heart. It’s because of this that I thought I could contribute something of value here.
What’s good about being an intern?
I’ve viewed being an intern as a necessary stepping stone for myself to a professional life. I haven’t been completely thrown into the deep end but, instead, I’ve gained an enriching learning experience from it. I’ve been able to improve on my existing skills whilst also learning and developing new ones. Having always loved writing, it’s been great for me to learn how to write well and how to do so for different groups of people. The most rewarding part for me has been seeing blog posts I’ve written go live on the company website. This also feeds in to learning how to use various software packages, which involved learning how to edit the website and create newsletters, skills that I’m sure will come in useful at a later point in my life. It’s also been great to learn about how to communicate effectively with clients, whether through email or the telephone. This whole learning process has been of utmost value to me and I am forever grateful that I’ve had the chance to experience it.
What’s your highlight been?
Learning how to make a cup of coffee.
I’m only joking. But unbelievably, I didn’t actually know how to make one when I arrived here. Flash forward to now and I’m able to juggle making multiple cups!
I have helped oversee, along with two other interns, the Chinese Student Society VIP Trip project from its humble beginnings. It’s been a solid five months of managing and organising a trip for five universities to visit Brighton for a weekend. From its first stages of researching universities, to contacting people, to creating relationships between students, to inviting them and organising their transport for them, I can’t say it’s been easy. So, for me, to see this project finally come together and happen has been a real treat.
I also got to accompany our MD, Helena, in Brighton to show around a couple of journalists from China Central TV. We took them to the Royal Pavilion and The Regency Restaurant where they filmed and interviewed various people. It was really interesting to see the processes that went on behind the scenes and then the end result of that a week later. Amazing to think that CCTV has more than one billion viewers. The numbers in China are enormous. Also, hearing the translations for The Regency’s Mandarin menu was a hilarious moment that I won’t soon forget.
What are your regular tasks?
My regular tasks are varied. I’ve researched and created copy for CTO’s trade newsletter which is sent out on WeChat in China and I’ve also written content for the company’s millennial-targeted WeChat account. I update CTO’s Twitter account daily as well as manage the company email. Once a month, I research and write a blog post which is uploaded onto CTO’s website. I’ve also helped to create a number of CTO’s newsletters which is sent out to clients via email. I also frequently help out with any other tasks that Helena or Julie needs doing which has included proofreading, creating spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations, and researching various things.
And then there’s the student project which requires different tasks to be done every week. Communication and building relationships between myself and the students involved has been vital, as well as organising every other aspect.
What’s it like to work at CTO?
CTO has been joyous to work for. Being based in a small office has been nice as it’s been much easier to get to know everyone that way. From the very beginning, both Helena and Julie have been great in supporting and guiding me in the right directions whilst also letting me figure things out for myself. Many of the conversations shared usually end up revolving around food but I think that’s my fault more than anyone else’s. They’re both lovely and funny people – I even received a panda face mask from Helena as a gift when she visited China.
I’ve also worked alongside two other interns which made starting a new job a lot less daunting. It’s been nice to share this experience with other people and get to know them.
One of the interns, Charlotte, finished her experience at CTO in December. Here’s what she had to say about her time here:
“Interning at China Travel Outbound gave me the exact kind of work experience I had been looking for. I learned a lot from Helena and Julie, and am sure the skills I developed will prove useful in my professional future. I learned how to answer and redirect phone calls with a professional demeanour, how to navigate sites like WordPress and MadMimi, and how to adapt my writing for different audiences. I also loved how Helena and Julie were not afraid to give me advice and constructive criticism and really appreciated my time there as it was the perfect learning experience.”