I can start by saying that the month in Shanghai has truly been the best experience of my life. Being thrown in the deep end of a foreign culture, far from home, whilst holding many pre-conceptions of the country itself was truly eye opening. During my placement at BBH I worked for the first two weeks in the creative department and the last two weeks in the design department. Having the experience in two departments was very insightful, as I was trusted with important job roles and truly felt like I had input into each project which I worked on. I only worked on a project for around 2-4 days, helping each creative team with anything which would help them complete the pitch. My job roles mostly included creating mock ups for pitches or helping build decks, which would then be sent to clients. It was very insightful seeing how projects are managed from start to finish, as they would happily run me through the whole project.
I think was I lucky to work at an advertising agency, as advertising is heavily influential of society and culture. I have grasped so much valuable insight into Chinese culture, just by working on campaign and adverts for Chinese brands. Therefor I think it’s important to be in its surrounding to truly grasp what the culture is like, without making any false preconceived ideas, which I think people make about China regularly. This being my first design internship, it as not only helped me gain confidence for my future internships, but also now I feel confident in building relationships with designers from Shanghai.
Although we were thrown in the deep end of this foreign culture, I started to feel very grounded halfway through the trip. Shanghai started to feel like home to me, and the thought of going back to London was unnerving. Upon reflection, I think I felt so comfortable because of the people which I’ve met along the way, mostly from work. Me and Megan became very close to our co-workers, working late hours, going out to eat and even exploring the nightlife of Shanghai with them was something which was a significant part of my trip. We got to experience Shanghai from a local’s perspective, with the people who live in the city. Therefore, I think the TTI programme is so important, as you fully integrate yourself in the city and lifestyle of Shanghai and learn about the culture through your own experiences.
I can see myself working and living in Shanghai in the future, even though I’m still currently in education, the thought of doing so feels very comfortable and realistic. There are so many opportunities in Shanghai as a designer, which I have seen and experienced myself just from being there for a month. Some of these opportunities I may never get a chance to do anywhere else, which is also reflected in BBH itself, as many of their designers and creatives come from foreign countries, some from Europe and even Kingston School of Art itself! They have grasped these opportunities in Shanghai, and I am more than happy to do so myself in the future.
I am grateful for the fact that I got to experience all of this with seven other creatives, who I can now call friends. Travelling to Shanghai together, working, experiencing the local cuisine and visiting surrounding places in our spare times is something which I’ll never forget. We all had a terrific time in Shanghai, and I that’s since we were all so open minded, which you must be as a designer in today’s ever changing design industry. Therefore I will encourage my current and future peers to take keen interest in Shanghai and what it has to offer.