Maxim de Wit is the Head of International Partnerships for Beijing's Great Wall Club, one of CAPA International Education's internship providers for CAPA Beijing students. Read on for Maxim's explanation of his position in the company, the role of CAPA interns in the Great Wall Club and his advice for students who are preparing for a career in the field of technology and social media.
CAPA World: First, tell us a bit about yourself.
Maxim de Wit: I am from The Netherlands and am 23 years old. I graduated from Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences with a BBA in Trade Management Focused on Asia.
I work at the Great Wall Club where I do a few things: I head our international partnerships, I take care of international member support, I am the operations manager for our annual Global Mobile Internet Conference and I manage our international interns.
Outside of work I enjoy doing a diversity of sports including table tennis, fitness, and Taekwondo and going out for dinner with friends. During holidays I love traveling to experience and learn from new cultures, languages and environments. Destinations I can’t wait to go to are India, Brazil, Philippines and Egypt.
CW: When did you move to China? What were your first impressions of the country and its people? What surprised you the most?
MdW: I moved to China in February 2010 for a 5-month exchange program at Beijing Normal University as part of my studies in The Netherlands. My first impression of living in Beijing was that it’s a much busier lifestyle than in Europe. From the start, I was hardly ever at home, I was always outside having classes, meeting with friends for lunch and dinner, exploring the city and playing sports.
CW: Tell us about the Great Wall Club in five sentences or less. How long have you worked there and in what capacity?
MdW: GWC is a mobile Internet executive business platform with membership services, events, consulting, media and research. GWC members include some of the world's most influential executives, entrepreneurs, developers and investors in the mobile Internet industry from, for example, Tencent, Alibaba, China Unicom, Microsoft, Evernote, Flipboard and Gree.
GWC is the organizer of the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) with one edition in Beijing (China) and one in Silicon Valley (the US). GMIC is the largest tech conference in Asia drawing 5,000 tech leaders from more than 30 countries. GWC is headquartered in Beijing and has representative offices in Japan, USA, Singapore, Taiwan and Finland.
During my exchange program at Beijing Normal University, I fell in love with the city and decided I wanted to stay. Then in the beginning of October of 2010 I applied for an internship at GWC and was invited to work for them full time instead.
CW: You take on interns from CAPA International Education's Beijing program. How involved do these students get to be with the day to day running of the business?
MdW: Although our CAPA interns only stay with us for about three months they get very involved in our business. GWC is only four years old and is expanding incredibly fast, so it’s all hands on deck - also for our interns.
CW: Give us a few examples of tasks that CAPA interns are assigned.
MdW: Depending on the needs of the company and the skills of the interns, our CAPA interns have worked on doing the social media marketing, supporting and creating partnerships, writing industry reports and building and managing systems.
CW: Do you think study abroad is important? Why or why not?
MdW: Definitely, no matter if you are planning to work abroad in the future or work in your own country, with globalization being a fact, at some point you will work with partners, customers and clients from abroad. Studying abroad will let you acquire invaluable experience, skills and contacts that will help you get ahead.
CW: What sort of advice would you give to students who are preparing for a career in the field of technology and social media?
MdW: There are a few things. First of all, find some regular blogs (I recommend TechCrunch.com, Mashable.com and TheVerge.com) and read up on what’s going on in the industry as well useful tips from industry experts. As for social media, the best way to learn is by starting to use social media to market yourself. Decide which social media platforms suit you (LinkedIn is a must) and start profiling yourself. Learn to connect with the right people, interact with them to create meaningful relationships and shape a strong profile that shows people what you’re made of.
CW: What are your biggest career challenges as a young professional expat living in China? How have you been able to overcome these so far?
MdW: Like no other country in the world, business in China is all about your connections (which they call “Guanxi” here). This does not just go for your day-to-day business, but even for getting a job. Next to my exchange program at Beijing Normal University, Great Wall Club, which allows me to meet and work with top executives from leading companies around the world, has been a great platform for me to build my Guanxi.
CW: Tell us about your favorite hidden gem in Beijing.
MdW: When you get off at Dazhongsi (大钟寺) subway station and go up a small concrete stairway you will find an incredibly large warehouses-turned marketplace. At this marketplace they sell almost anything you can come up with from Christmas decorations, clothes and street signs to all kinds of tools and furniture. When you go, make sure to go in the morning because you can easily spend a whole day there!
CW: What's your ideal way to spend a Saturday in Beijing?
MdW: My ideal Saturday in Beijing starts by sleeping in and having brunch with some friends. Then in the afternoon do some shopping and have a long workout. To finish the day, go out for dinner with friends and then move on into Beijing’s nightlife for a party till the sun rises.
Maxim has invited anyone who would like to talk about his experience working in China or who has a question about CAPA internships at The Great Wall Club to contact him by email Max@greatwallclub.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.