Four students, expecting internships relevant to their finance and physics university studies were mistakenly placed in Chimelong Park, China’s largest amusement park, Marketplace China reports.
On their first day of work, the interns — selected by the Hong Kong America Center for its first annual South China Internship Program — were handed costumes and instructed to put them on. Keenan Madson, who was told he would be doing an “engineering and design internship,” described his costume:
Don’t know if you’ve seen ‘Mary Poppins,’ but when Mary Poppins goes into the dreamland and Dick Van Dyke is wearing that white and red jump suit with the top hat? That’s exactly what I looked like.
His job was to greet visitors at the gate of the park.
Amusement park staff told the students they had been misidentified as hospitality students by the South China Internship program. In the end, all four students quit and couchsurfed after leaving the Chimelong Park employee dorms.
Internships in China for foreign students keen to become part of China’s economic growth are becoming increasingly popular, according to the BBC.
However, as Jeremy Friedlein explained to Marketplace China, a culture of internships in China is relatively new and interns should manage their expectations;
In China, internships are more or less free or cheap labor and foreign and Chinese companies will make use of that however they want to.
Of course, unpaid internships are hardly a uniquely Chinese problem, western countries/companies are just as exploitative of young people desperate for experience.
[By Maea Lenei Buhre // Image credit: @edd72]