I walked the Shanghai Bund near its intersection with Nanjing Dong Lu, excited, trying to find building No. 23.
It was there that I would get my first-hand experience at ChinaVest, a long-standing investment capital firm that has more than 30 years of business in China.
It would be my first step into anything related to finance as an intern (with everyone in my major worrying about experience), but at the moment, I was more concerned if I was ever going to step foot into the firm at all.
I looked at the buildings. There was No. 22, and oh, cool, No. 23. But it said "Bank of China" very clearly and in bold. I stared at the paper in my hand, hoping for it to give me some new insight. It was a futile. In the end, I decided to just step into Bank of China and ask.
That was a simple solution.
So, after a few mishaps with disconnecting elevators from the 5th floor to the 10th ( I also innocently took the stairs from the 5th floor to the 10th, only to find that the door on the 10th was locked so I had to climb all the way down again), I managed to make my way to ChinaVest.
The place was indeed very much like an office: there were cubicles and there were workers. It was much more nicely decorated than I had imagined, however, with fresh flowers tapped next to red carpet chairs. I greeted the secretary , saying I was an intern who had tragically lost her way around, so I was a few minutes late. She was sweet, but told me that the interviewer I had met was out of town in Beijing today and that she would temporarily put me in a cubicle and give me some things to do.
I followed her into a quiet room with three other people. Two were Chinese (and I have yet to learn their names), and one was an expat, Morgan. Morgan gladly introduced herself to me and talked about my responsibilities in helping her translate a few things from Chinese to English and write a few articles for the firm. I listened carefully and looked at the Excel file she gave me. Cool. First time at the job, and I'm already busy with translating and writing.
While my expectations weren't that I would be intimately involved in any serious business deals or real-life exposure to clients (given the fact that I'm just an intern and so low on the hierarchy ladder), I did find most of the articles I had to read interesting enough. I am currently involved in publishing and producing a weekly newsletter for the firm's 1,000+ audience about the most recent business news and stances the firm takes on them.
ChinaVest itself is a rather small firm, so there is instant contact with its owners. I met Robert Theleen, ChinaVest CEO and Chairman, on the first day. While it is a rather small office, I noticed—and Morgan pointed out—that it seemed there wasn't much socializing taking place. Most people in the office mind their own business, do their work, and at sharply 5:30 pm, swiftly leave the office, hitting the brisk and vibrant night scene of the Bund.
As for me, I liked the view (if not the stairs) as I came out at 6 pm to go to the subway. And despite the little bumps in my first day—the trouble I had finding the office, the postponed interview—I plan on sticking with my ChinaVest internship and seeing where it leads me. Anything for a nice long view of the Shanghai skyline on my way home!