As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I spent a month in the summer of 2016 in Shanghai. That month was spent interning with a company called Studio White Group. They do marketing and pr for restaurants, gyms and other businesses within China, as well as in London-where they have an office- my time there was a mixture of interesting and frustrating.
The experience was interesting as they were when I was there, looking to open a gym on the top of their office space, where their employees could go and work out after work. Consequently, as the intern there, alongside a local lad who was also interning, I was sent off to travel around Shanghai to see various different gyms, and assess them.
The gyms in Shanghai were all kept in small offices, usually in office buildings, the clientele were all professionals who would come during the evening to work out and burn off steam. This much became clear after the first three gyms we went to, all of which had the same layout-weights in the back room, treadmill and other machines in the front- and after a casual web search, the other gyms we were considering looking at all had the same images on their websites!
The gym staff were usually reluctant to tell us anything about the services they offered and how much they charged for such services. It appeared they thought we were competition, which we were, but still, that was frustrating as it really hindered our ability to do our research properly. Eventually, we came up with a plan for getting information. I would say I was an expat looking to join a gym and that I was there with a friend I knew, who was helping me. That usually ended up making the gym staff friendlier, and as such we got a lot of our data doing that.
Usually, we would see around four or five gyms in the morning, and then we would get lunch. This saw us eat at a variety of local small restaurants which served Chinese food cooked in the traditional way. It was through this that I fell in love with dumplings. The food was great, but after that there was an option before me, return to the office and sit on my hands doing nothing, or return to the hostel. Usually I chose the latter, and this is where the frustration comes in.
During the first week that I was at Studio White I would get into work at eight, and leave at six. For the first four hours, I was usually out looking at gyms, then there was lunch, after that, there was nothing to do. Data compiling took an hour at most, then it was a case of just twiddling my thumbs until it was time to leave. What I realised after the first week was that, as my boss didn’t actually come into work until three in the afternoon if at all, I could actually leave whenever I wanted. This consequently led to me leaving straight from the gyms after we had gotten the information we needed, from the second week onwards.
Whilst this was good in the sense that I was spared hours of boredom, it was frustrating, as I had paid a lot of money to come out to China, and was really getting bugger all work to do. Furthermore, if my memory serves, I do not think that the report I wrote after we had collected all the data deemed appropriate, was not actually used or looked at by my boss, thus making the whole thing pointless!
Still, the hours off from work gave me the chance to explore Shanghai, which I did with a lot of enjoyment. Exploring the temples and the food shops was a lot of fun. So, in the end I guess it was worth it.
All in all, it was not a bad experience, though the work perhaps could’ve been better.