UCL School of Pharmacy


Study Abroad: The MPharm View

20 January 2020

Dorothy Tong (UCL MPharm) recently spent a summer in Shanghai as a health and pharmaceutical sector intern. Here she tells us about her experiences and how this has had a positive impact on her career prospects.

Where: Internship based in Shanghai with Knudsen & CRC and China BlueSky Partners in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutics sector.

The first time I visited China was on an internship on the Generation UK programme funded by the British Council in collaboration with CRCC Asia.

I spent two months in Shanghai, a bustling metropolis of business and culture; where I completed two, month-long internships in the Healthcare and Pharmaceutics sector. I applied to the programme because I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity where I could gain global experience, cultural insight and invaluable connections.

Prior to my departure, after my interview with the host companies, I hoped to develop an understanding about the corporate opportunities in healthcare, more specifically, consulting. This internship would give me the experience I need to apply for graduate roles.

Shanghai Water Town district

Interestingly, my internship was not in a mainstream role which most people think of pharmacy students to go into. The companies were both consulting companies which specialised in advising foreign companies (mainly Australian) on the step-by-step procedure to enter the Chinese market, in the hopes to potentially capture a piece of the huge, expanding market.

The first company I worked in specialised in regulation compliance, specifically in the cosmetics and health foods sector. Although a relatively small company, they owned an impressive client list and had a successful, ever-growing portfolio of products, they had enabled, to be put onto shop shelfs.

My tasks ranged from market research, to predicting market rate projections to accompanying my boss on client proposal meetings. The highlight of the internship was when I could network; whether it was at healthcare networking events or with clients at meetings.

For 3 hours a week, I had Mandarin lessons, which I found extremely invaluable; after learning the vocab in class, I could observe the language in action immediately after. CRCC also arranged monthly business seminars from industry experts. In addition, there were also cultural events, such as calligraphy class or museum trips.

The biggest challenge was the language barrier; not many people spoke English, but thanks to the impeccably brilliant efforts from the Mandarin House team, I gained the confidence to overcome this barrier. Performing market research on my internship was particularly difficult because the information required was in Chinese. This made it difficult to find and understand the market for the China reports.

Shanghai Bund district

During my free time on the weekends, I explored Shanghai, where I filmed and photographed many tourist attractions. Shanghai is a very beautiful city with many attractions including water-towns, skyscrapers and even Disneyland. The impressive high speed rail also made it possible to travel to Suzhou and other parts of China in a fraction of the time I would have needed with conventional transportation.

Looking back, I am very grateful to have been accepted onto the Generation UK programme. This summer has given me the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in consulting, become more employable and gain the contacts and network to further my career. I will definitely consider a career abroad in China following my graduation. I plan to stay in touch with my previous bosses and maintain the network links with experts in Asia.

Image credits:  Dorothy Tong