Uber fast: My MBA internship in Shanghai

 

I grew up in Wuhan, and then moved to Canada to get a Masters of Engineering at McGill University, which in turn lead to three years working for Cisco Systems.  I began my CEIBS MBA in 2015 with the desire to ultimately join a high-tech multinational or start-up in a product management or sales role.  After spending almost six years in North America, my first work experience in China was at Uber Shanghai as an intern in the Operations Department.

Now that more than two months have passed, I look back at my intern days at Uber as one of the most interesting, fascinating and enjoyable experiences I have had since starting my MBA at CEIBS.  Over time, I have learnt how internet companies, especially multinational ones, compete in China, as well as how to apply what I have studied in my MBA to real life business scenarios.

Uber has a very dynamic working environment. The moment you walk into the office, you are greeted by many young faces in an open plan office without any cubicles. My early impression was that an entrepreneurial spirit filled the office.  Even as an intern, you are given full ownership of your project. You decide how you want to do with it, who should be involved, how much budget to ask for and even what the KPIs should be.

One of the tasks I was assigned, for example, was to build a large number of external partnerships within a very limited time frame. I was fortunate to own and direct the whole project, which included a lot of project planning and management. Another project I was involved in focused on business development for the Operations team. My goal was to increase the supply of drivers in Shanghai, especially within suburban areas of the city. To accomplish this goal, I was able to leverage external partnerships and internal teams to launch a marketing campaign to drive recruitment. My responsibilities touched on a lot of knowledge that I learned from marketing and entrepreneurship courses at CEIBS. The internship really helped me to strengthen my understanding of those areas, especially an appreciation for the importance of understanding customer needs.

One of the biggest takeaways from my time at Uber was adapting to the sheer pace of the business from one day to the next. One day I would be asked to make a project plan and the next day I would start implementing it with my team. This is probably one of the unique characteristics of internet companies in China. The market is changing rapidly and we had to adapt and make decisions quickly in order to keep up with our competitors. Given the speed and flexibility I was expected to work at, I was able to see the real results of my business solutions, which was particularly satisfying.

My internship at Uber really helped me to reinforce the direction that I wanted to take my career in; I learned how to establish business partnerships within a Chinese start up setting and how to adapt to the frantic pace of the business. My internship was extremely valuable, providing me with the opportunity to participate in exciting projects in a Chinese environment together with a fantastic team of innovative young professionals. 

To discover more about how internships in China are integrated into CEIBS’ full-time MBA programme, click here or email James Kent kjames@ceibs.edu for more MBA student stories.

MBA2017 Michael Zhu