Having graduated with a degree in Chinese Studies from The University of Sheffield in 2011, I was thrilled to join the Newman Tours team in April 2012. I had applied for the internship as I saw it as a great way to gain valuable work experience and build a range of skills, whilst having the opportunity to live in China, use my Mandarin and learn more about the history and culture of the country that fascinates me. My experience at Newman Tours did exactly this. Working for a small but growing company meant that I soon became an integral part of the team and my opinions really counted. I was soon able to contribute to important decisions, influencing how the business developed. The work I have carried out has been varied and interesting: from leading tours to having a key role in administration and being responsible for the company’s finances, among many others.
After finishing my nine month internship, I was offered a full time position as the Shanghai Operations Manager, and was excited to take on the position as well as the increased responsibility and new challenges that came with it. In managing the Shanghai office, I was responsible for the smooth operation of the Shanghai office as well as continuing to lead tours. My main responsibilities included dealing with booking enquiries and administration, setting colleagues up with tasks and supervising their work, and recording and monitoring the company’s finance.
In learning Shanghai’s key tours, such as the French Concession, Ghost and Gangster Tours to name a few, I not only had the opportunity to find out about Shanghai’s vibrant history, but was also trained by Daniel in how to deliver speeches in an engaging manner, including the ability to convey complicated information and stories in a way that the audience can easily digest, as well as presenting and projecting to groups of up to 15 people at one time. Moreover, I have been the Senior Guide for tours with groups of over 30 people, responsible for organising and coordinating the other guides to ensure that the tour was executed to the best of our ability and to the satisfaction of the guests. Some such tours have included taking top Google employees on a Shanghai wide tour, introducing a group of international executives and CEOs to Shanghai’s gangster past, and many other tours for various esteemed businessmen and women, expatriates and tourists alike. Meeting people from a range of different backgrounds and industries, for me, is one of the really interesting aspects of tour guiding.
In December 2012, I was asked to make a short promotional speech for Newman Tours at SWFC Insights, an event with an audience of over 200 people. Eight months of leading tours and honing my pubic speaking skills meant that I was relatively unfazed by the prospect and was delighted to have been given the opportunity by Daniel.
In terms of my contributions in the office, I have been involved in the company’s administration, finance, human resources, marketing, design and tour development.
Recognising my organised and efficient approach to work, Daniel soon increased my responsibilities within the administration work in the office, appointing me to take on a large portion of email and phone correspondence with guests for organising and booking tours. Moreover, I was soon responsible for maintaining and updating the Bookings Document and Tour Data Document to ensure that the details of all booking enquiries and tours lead was kept on record (both of which are key to the booking process and contributing to marketing priorities). I was also able to suggest and implement ways in which these and other admin processes could be streamlined and improved.
In terms of marketing, I have regularly taken part a number of promotional and networking events, such as monthly coffee mornings for Shanghai expats and the Shanghai Expat Show, where we carried out face-to-face marketing and activities. Moreover, I have been involved in contacting various members of the media, including for Shanghai listings, and have gained an understanding of improving a company’s internet presence through involvement in SEO, blog and Google Adwords projects.
As the Shanghai Operations Manager, I contributed to various aspects of recruitment and HR. These included assessing incoming applications, carrying out interviews and taking part in decisions as to who to hire. Moreover, monthly HR responsibilities included scheduling, keeping track of employees’ holiday and writing up and issuing pay slips for monthly salaries.
Closely tied to marketing, I have also been involved in various aspects design for Newman Tours, from name cards and pamphlets to designing pages for the website. From this, I am now able to use design software such as Adobe Illustrator and iWeb.
The final area that I have been involved in, although to a lesser extent, is tour development and research. Due to my other responsibilities, this was never my key focus, but on several occasions I took part in the research stages of developing new or enhancing existing tours. Moreover, I have been able to suggest and implement changes and improvements to various tours or specific speeches or stories.
Overall, my time at Newman Tours has been a great jumpstart to my career. It has giving me a genuine insight into how businesses work and has enabled me to develop a wide range of skills, experience and responsibility. Above all it has been incredibly enjoyable and valuable 2 years and I would thoroughly recommend it to someone passionate about China and keen to live and work in Shanghai, or Beijing.