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    IB Hero

Business Minded Alumnus

18 September 2015

Twenty-one-year-old Alice Riddington hasn’t let the grass grow under her feet since she graduated from (then) BISS Pudong in 2013. Following a year of studies at Sino British College (SBC) Shanghai, completing the first year of her Business Management degree with Manchester University, she moved to the UK for second year. Back in Shanghai this summer to visit her family, Alice interned at two separate businesses and also found time to source products for her own e-commerce site which she will soon launch. Now back in Manchester studying full-time and working part-time for one of the companies at which she had the summer internship, she answered our questions about the value of internships, becoming an online entrepreneur and how the IB provided the grounding for her success…

  • Alice Riddington

Q: You’ve just landed a great role with an international company – tell us what it is and how that came about?

A: Over the summer I interned at two companies. One of the internships was with a financial company and required me to create business plan stating the viability of setting up new offices in Hong Kong or Singapore. This internship allowed me to work from home but have regular meetings with the business founder presenting my findings.

The second internship was with an automotive engineering company called SINO Engineering. This job required me to work full working days directly with the CEO.

SINO recently recognized a business opportunity to venture into: recruitment. Many clients require additional talent on a regular and speedy basis. I was employed to develop a recruitment strategy overlooking recruiting, onboarding, social media, promotion and more. Utilizing academic theories and teaching throughout the internship resulted in the construction of a detailed report outlining recruiting strategies that should be adopted and necessary software that should be invested in.

After working for SINO for 2 months, I was the only employee dealing with Human Resources, social media and talent acquisition. I have just returned to England and have been asked to continue working for the company dealing with all talent acquisition, communication and social media with international candidates and have been offered a fulltime job upon return to Shanghai.

Q: What sort of grounding do you think the IB had for your university studies and your internship?

A: Business Studies during the International Baccalaureate taught me the skills required to complete the report, for example conducting in depth competitor analysis, marketing analysis and constructing a profit and loss account. Additionally, the extended essay and Theory of Knowledge prepared me for constructing a report and applying critical thinking.

Q: How important do you think it is for students to take on internships in order to get their  “foot in the door” with businesses?

A: I think internships are very important for both personal and academic development. Studying theories and models at school and university gives you the basic understanding, but experiencing business in a real-life environment has been one of the fastest and most influential ways for me to learn. Internships have taught me to work individually and in groups with different nationalities, skill sets, to apply theory to real life situations and to deal with pressure. I would strongly advise any student to gain as much experience through internships as possible. It is very tempting to relax during the summer holidays after completing the International Baccalaureate - I would advise you to find an internship!

The market is highly competitive at the moment and work experience and building your CV is absolutely key to attaining a good job whether you attend university in the future or not.

One of the greatest lessons I can pass on is to never say no to opportunities. Fear and the unknown is often a barrier to accepting opportunities, but don’t let them be. There have been many occasions when I have been terrified of presenting to a board of directors or calling CEOs of multinational companies. But the experience and skills I have learnt from accepting every task that has been presented to me have made me a stronger person and far more efficient in dealing with these challenges.

Q: You’re also launching an e-commerce site. What’s it about?

A: This year I am completing my final year at university, during which I will launch my first business ‘Casela’ – This is an online retail store promoting and selling unique designer products from all around the world. The business will be launched in the UK and Spain. I currently have designers from Switzerland, Mauritius and Madagascar. My product range includes watches, sunglasses, jewellery and bicycles. I have been required to source products, plan and complete a photo-shoot of both group shots and studio shots, creating a website, developing social media plans and more.

Q: How have you gone about sourcing the products for the site?

A: Sourcing products was one of the most challenging aspects as I want to promote products that I am passionate about and know will do well in a global market. Sourcing came in two forms: primary research (visiting product fairs and retail stores) and secondary research (online research such as Alibaba, Taobao and Etsy).

Q: Why venture into the world of e-commerce?

A: I decided to delve into the world of ecommerce to support my studies and future. I love a challenge and feel ready to manage my own business.

Q: You are very ambitious. What is your long-term goal?

A: I aim to move into international business and would look for any and every opportunity to fulfill my long-term career and life ambitions.

Q: Do you miss Shanghai? What is your advice for students at NAIS Pudong now?

A: Yes, I miss Shanghai a lot! For me, Shanghai has been a country full of opportunities. I was elected Head Girl at BISS Pudong, I landed my first managerial role at age 18 and have worked alongside many inspirational managers that have given me many opportunities.

However, none of these opportunities would have been possible if I hadn’t set out to look for them. This has taken me out of my comfort zone and helped me develop the skills taught during my international education.

If you want results, you have to dive into the unknown and fight for what you want to achieve.