Want an internship at a Chinese bank? Your parents must have at least half a million yuan in their account

30 April 2014

Everybody knows that students with well-connected parents stand a much better chance of getting a sought-after internship than those from less advantaged households. But while most companies will not openly advertise such discriminatory practices, many banks in China not only publicly announce their policy, they have clear guidelines on just how well-connected the parents have to be.

“The precondition for a summer internship at our bank is that the parents must have a fixed term deposit of at least 500,000 yuan at the branch,” an employee at the head office of one bank in Beijing told the Securities Daily.

Summer internships are considered by banks to be unpaid voluntary labour and can last for as little as one week, giving the students little opportunity to actually learn anything useful. If students are seeking a longer tem internship that eventually leads to employment, parents need to have in excess of ten million yuan in their account, sources told the Securities Daily.

Despite these ridiculous stipulations, the newspaper said there was no shortage of students willing to apply for summer internships. The reason for the intense competition for places was quite simple and had little to with a career in finance.

Internships end with an internship certificate issued by the bank, and this certificate is seen by many in China as a key component in any successful application to an Ivy League college in North America.

As such, I feel it is important to let those in Ivy League college admissions offices know that if they do get an application from a student in China whose résumé includes an internship at a bank, they should ask that applicant exactly how they got their internship and what exactly they learned from it.

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