Sussex University Internship at Guanxi

August 12, 2021
By chinato

Luke Lu, a postgraduate student at the University of Sussex, describes his experience as an intern at Guanxi in Brighton.

I am a graduate student in the cultural and creative industries at the University of Sussex. When I chose my module, I chose industry experience in the cultural entrepreneurship industry. As part of this module, I needed to do a six-week internship with a company related to the cultural and creative industries. At first, I was very confused about finding an internship. Because as an international student I don’t know about local employment in the UK, nor about the wider cultural industry, because my specialism is tourism management, so I really only knew about tourism. With the help of my Course Leader, Professor Margaretta, I heard about China Travel Outbound, a travel PR firm based in Brighton.


After delivering my resume and passing an interview, I was given the opportunity to go to China Travel Outbound for an internship. My six weeks were a very special six weeks because during this time, the company had decided to change its name from China Travel Outbound to Guanxi (which means relationship in Chinese). Because the company wants to expand its PR business into other areas, such as education, and look beyond the travel industry and perhaps, beyond China. This is a special time for a company, so I had many learning opportunities about how to do a rebrand. There is a lot to do!

Research on the beach

In the second week of my internship, I was involved in a field job and went to Seven Sisters National Park with my classmates, which made a very different internship for me because of the day out to work this week, which was an amazing experience for me. On Monday, I went to Seven Sisters National Park, experienced the facilities of the scenic spot, took photos and gave the Director of Seven Sisters a research and feedback report. It’s a challenge for me because I’ve never done a job like this. It’s also an opportunity for me, because I can use my own personal experience to help the scenic spot understand how it feels to be a group of Chinese students. At the same time, this can help the scenic area in the targeting of the student group to further improve. It also taught me how important user feedback is when it comes to serving users. Back at work, I compiled the photos collected on Monday at Seven Sisters National Park and produced feedback on the attractions. By getting to know our customers as tourists and giving them more accurate feedback, this helps companies understand their customers and helps them do better directional marketing.

Finding influencers

With the deepening of work, I was able to make progress with the company through my understanding of the business. Since I am an international student, I know more about the group of international students. I wrote about my experience of studying in the UK for the company, which will help Chinese students who are already in the UK or those who are planning to come to the UK. This work was posted on the company’s WeChat group which is called 英伦旅游那些事 or ‘Things about travel in the UK’ which is for Chinese students studying here. As a student in the cultural and creative industry, I am well aware of the media’s help in promotion, so I learned a lot in the process of the company’s blog. At the same time, I also began to take charge of more important tasks, sourcing the Chinese influencers or KOLs and liaising with them. This is of great significance to the company’s publicity on various social media in China. But at first, I had no idea about this job, because I was totally inexperienced. I didn’t know how to find KOLs that meet our company’s standards, and I didn’t know how to contact them. Fortunately, in the KOL form sent to me by my colleague, Julie, I learned how to evaluate a KOL. The content and style of KOL are very important to show the travel brand. Because the content and style of the KOL determines its audience. Therefore, its content and style have become an important factor when evaluating KOLs. It is necessary to cooperate with top KOLs. After learning how to find the right KOL, my supervisor, Helena, taught me how to communicate with KOLs. Although the KOL and I use the same language, I believe that the way of communicating with a KOL is the way to get cooperation. Therefore, with the help of the company, I went from novice to practitioner.

During the weeks of internship at Guanxi, I experienced the differences between British companies and Chinese companies, and also gave me a certain understanding of the industry. But the most exciting thing is that I learned a lot of knowledge here that I could not learn in school. This experience will be an unforgettable and wonderful memory for me.

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