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Thread: Potentially Interning in China Summer 2011

  1. #1
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    Potentially Interning in China Summer 2011

    Hi,

    I'm hoping to intern with a planning department, development corporation, or ngo in China next summer [2011] and was wondering if the members of this forum might have any advice as to what location would better benefit someone with a background in architecture (B.Arch and taking the AREs now) who is currently in graduate school for planning with the goal of working in community development in the future.

    I happen to have connections in the city of Harbin (far northern China where the trans-siberian rr used to terminate) and was researching their city planning department when one of my contacts suggested I would gain more educationally and professionally by going for an internship in one of the larger cities (more problems.. or at least more complex.. with more connections etc. was the logic) such as Shanghai or Beijing.

    What do y'all think? I'm only 24 so I've a ways to go professionally and all.

    Regards,

    Arck

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    My personal opinion is that it probably does not matter where you go. The cross-cultural experience will be a lot to negotiate on its own no matter where you are. And if you have contacts, no reason not to build on that. I would expect there to be plenty of planning issues in Harbin, many of which are impossible to anticipate until you get there.

    Harbin, being where it is, has many fascinating elements that relate in various ways to planning, I would think: international trade issues with Russian and the Trans Siberian RR, the changing role of the place as a major trade/shipping center as more transportation of goods moves to trucks, and so on.

    Plus, as someone with some background in architecture, you could see how they make those incredible ice buildings!

    I do hear its exceedingly cold there. Someone just told me about their husband having been there this past winter. They went to see the ice town but said it was so incredibly cold that it was hard to stay and enjoy it for long...

    It sounds like a great opportunity to intern in China no matter where you end up!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Arcktip.

    I could possibly provide some advice for you. Background on myself is a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Minor in Planning. I worked for a large international planning firm and had the opportunity to live/work in Beijing for nine months.

    First off, I would definately agree with 'wahday' - the experience is going to be rewarding regardless. Out of the three cities you might face a different, yet common, sense of planning in each city. The politics in China are much more national based then the states. This means that many of the large planning projects are usually done at the national level. Cities do have much involvement, but most of it involves serving as a project manager (for very large projects). China is an exciting place right now, especially with your architecture background.

    I did work in Shanghai, Beijing, and Harbin. Harbin is very very cold, just something to be aware of. Great historical Russian architecture in Harbin, good place to learn from. It's a small city though. Shanghai is the financial center of mainland China. They have an area called the Pudong. Much of the attention is with the Expo in regards to planning, but they are investing signifcantly on housing right now. Beijing would be my top choice. Beijing is not only the most exciting city in China, but it is the head of government. This means that you might not only work on local issues, but national issues. Most of the planning efforts seem to be transportation based. This might be a good way to determine which city is best for you.

    Best of luck!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    This interesting piece from the New York Times may be of interest:

    China's Instant Cities
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
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    china internships

    I think it definitely matters where you go. You don't want to be stuck in Harbin for three months! Check out China Academy of Urban Planning and Design in Beijing (CAUPD). It's a pseudo-government agency. They have projects all over the country and are heavily funded. Please DON'T work in the local government unless you can take extreme corruption and 4 hour lunch banquets every day where you HAVE to get drunk. Also try URS or the other major firms with structured internship programs. If you want a cross cultural experience for the heck of it, then go there and teach english or something. If you want a valuable planning internship, then stick with the better organized groups.

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