The Columns

Summer in Shanghai Laura Wang ’19 interned for the Shell company in Shanghai, putting her communications skills to the test and making new friends along the way.

— by on September 15th, 2017

“I’m still very curious and passionate about working in advertising and PR, and would love to plan my next internship in that direction, but this internship opened me to a new direction.”

Laura Wang ’19
Major: Strategic Communication

Where did you intern this summer?

Shell (China) Ltd.

Tell us a little bit about that organization:

Shell is known as one of the biggest oil and gas companies. It is based in the Netherlands and incorporated in the United Kingdom. Shell is ranked No. 7 on the 2017 Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies. Over the years, Shell has developed a business not just in the fuel commonly seen at gas stations, but also in lubricants, bitumen and renewable energy. In the Chinese lubricant market, Shell is the No. 1 international owned brand.

Describe your job there:

I worked for Shell China’s commercial road transport oil brand, Rimula, as a marketing intern. My job on the CRTO Transport team (it’s basically the Rimula marketing team) included: doing data analysis to identify Rimula’s potential volume growth in different channels and cities; calling truck drivers and Rimula Club members to get feedback on consumer activity from the past March to May; communicating with an agency to design brochures in order to reach out to more fleet customers in different industries; contributing to Rimula’s biggest activity of this year, EPE final, in designing competitions, rules and questions; going to market visits (to the truck accessory centers) and talking to lubricant business owners in order to make an overall plan for developing volume on Franchise Workshop customers.

What was the best story or project you worked on?

The best project I worked on is participating in the whole planning process for CRTO marketing 2018, with a special focus on developing volume on Franchise Workshop (FWS) customers. I knew when I first came to Shell that I would be working on FWS in the later part of my internship, but I had no idea those huge amounts of data and those long-distance market visits would make up a crucial part in the whole 2018 FWS planning. I started out not knowing what FWS was, but I went on to see and learn about our potential customers in market visits, make proposals about new sales opportunities in FWS, and analyze huge amounts of data on truck population, Shell’s penetration and market share. Finally, I helped incorporate all those small tasks and conclusions into our market plan for FWS in 2018. It feels so good to know that those small things I did will make a big difference on the whole marketing plan next year.

Who did you meet, such as a source, a story subject or a mentor, that made the most vivid impression on you – and why?

My project manager, who specializes in fleet and FWS in our team, walked me through from not knowing anything about truck and lubricant to finishing a planning pack with her. My boss, the line manager of the whole CRTO transport team, gave me a lot of insights on the whole Chinese market, the whole marketing field and the relationship between Party A (a company like Shell) and Party B (advertising, PR and media agencies). When I first attended the planning meeting with some colleagues in our team and the representative from the advertising agency, I started learning about the relationship between Party A and B. The whole meeting and the collaboration later made me change my impression about the advertising agency, and even made me reconsider my future career path.

When did you feel the most challenged and how did you meet that challenge?

I think I was most challenged in dealing with huge amounts of data and trying to analyze that data to get a conclusion. The data I got were huge, bigger than I could have ever expected  I think each Excel sheet had about one million data. I had to calculate those data and conjugate different sheets. It drove me crazy to input the data one-by-one. However, later I found in a new market report that the creator had made a pivot table in order to better see the sum of each sector and analyze data, so I applied the pivot table in my data analyses, and my colleagues also taught me how to use “VLOOKUP” to find the exact data I needed.

What did you like best about the location of the internship?

Shanghai is amazing. I was born and raised in the third biggest city in China, Guangzhou, and I have traveled to Shanghai a couple of times, but Shanghai still amazes me every time I see a new district. I moved to three different apartments throughout this internship, and I could explore something new in each area. Shanghai is a city combined with both old and new, domestic and international. Shell’s office is located in the transportation center in Shanghai, five minutes’ walking distance from the railway station and 15 minutes walking distance from the airport. Although it’s not the city center, the government is trying to make that area the new Central Business District. There are three newly opened shopping malls around the office building, and we had so many choices for lunch every day. One of my friends, W&L alumna Susan Ma ’16, and her boyfriend, traveled in Shanghai for couple of days. While I showed them around, I was also exploring the city deeper and deeper.

Will this internship impact the direction of your career in any way?

This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot after the internship. I used to be very dedicated to working in an advertising or PR agency. I knew I wanted to work in that industry right after I graduated and work there for a long time. However, after having meetings with agencies and talking to my colleagues, I’m not sure if that’s the only way I can go. Big companies like Shell keep recruiting young elites in different fields (there were nine people in my team, and six of them, including me, were under 30). The ideas and plans that agency people can think of, company people may also be able to think of, and they know more about the field they’re working in. So it makes me reconsider my career direction. I’m still very curious and passionate about working in advertising and PR, and would love to plan my next internship in that direction, but this internship opened me to a new direction of working in marketing and communications.

How did W&L help to prepare you for this opportunity?

Information Technology Literacy definitely helped me on my Excel skills, which are very important in marketing. Because all the documents and emails in Shell are written in English, the writing class and Journalism 201 helped me with writing quickly and accurately in my second language. The experience of working as a Phonathon Caller also helped me a lot in this internship, as I needed to call a lot of truck drivers and customers. My colleagues were worried about me dealing with people from a totally strange field, but because I’ve been calling a lot of alumni and their parents from completely different fields, I had confidence talking to strangers through phone calls, and I ended up really enjoying conversations with those truck drivers.