(By Avery Winningham, updated in June 2021)
When my first year at university came to an abrupt end due to the pandemic, I was keen to maximise my time by channelling my passion for China and Chinese culture whilst broadening my understanding of UK-China business relations. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do exactly that over the last year and a half, through my role as a virtual marketing and data analysis work experience student at Crayfish.io. Having reached the end of my internship, and my second year at Durham University, I have taken time to reflect on the last year and the valuable experiences I have had working with Crayfish.io.
As an intern working remotely from my home in London and university room in Durham, I have experienced firsthand how COVID-19 has brought about a fundamental shift in the professional world with lasting effects that will alter our methods of working and communicating for years to come. I began working with Crayfish.io in April 2020, just one month after the team began working predominantly from home. Since then, I have worked alongside studying for my degree in Chinese and International Relations. The team has been greatly respectful of my academic commitments and my projects have been developed to allow me to meet my academic requirements while contributing to Crayfish.io.
Despite the challenges associated with working remotely, from day one, I was immediately welcomed into the team and I have gained valuable insights into many aspects of the company including marketing, PR, business development, and communication. To my benefit, these sorts of tasks were easy to do from home, facilitated through regular zoom calls and discussions. Having a supervisor, Crayfish.io co-founder Jiao Li, who oversaw my contribution to meaningful projects of all sizes including, but not limited to, client and industry research, article write-ups, social media management, proofreading, and website SEO. Researching blog articles, meanwhile, led to an appreciation of the core differences between China and UK marketing and design. This understanding was furthered through attending a number of fascinating webinars, learning how to use a variety of marketing platforms and softwares, as well as assisting in essential research.
During the courses of my year with Crayfish.io, I was given increasingly more independence and control of projects, many of which evolving to meet the changing pandemic and political circumstances. The extended duration of the working experience provided the opportunity for me to gain a great understanding of the company’s marketing structure and allowed me to become more confident in matching the tone and style of previous posts and blog entries on the Crayfish.io website, while understanding the full extent of COVID-19’s impacts on the business world. Regular discussions with Jiao and Ting resulted in consistent improvements in Crayfish.io’s content and boosted engagement with vast numbers of people, online and offline. I welcomed suggestions for improvement and believe that this opportunity has resulted in me becoming a more conscientious and detail-oriented worker. I am continuously using the skills I have acquired from various projects and applying them to my university degree, and more.
Moreover, with each month spent with Crayfish.io, my scope of responsibility and influence grew. Throughout dynamic discussions about website and social media content, I felt that my opinions were valued and respected, particularly with regard to social media management, and I enjoyed participating in constructive dialogues regarding ways to improve Crayfish.io’s marketing strategies.
Crayfish.io has also been exceptional in connecting me with other interns in a virtual setting, and in person. Meeting students from different universities in England and Europe with different life experiences yet similar interests to my own has created an incredibly impactful internship experience, and provided me with long-lasting relationships that will benefit me for years to come. Last August, we were invited to spend the day in Cambridge, enjoying pizza and punting with the Crayfish.io team. Meeting the team in person for an extremely fun day out was just one of many examples of the team investing greatly in my personal and professional development, of which I am extremely grateful.
Crayfish.io team virtual meeting
From weekly Friday afternoon informal zooms with a drink during quarantine to get to know the team, to friendly conversations on WeChat, I have genuinely enjoyed my time with Crayfish.io. To sum up, COVID-19 has been an entirely life-altering phenomenon, and I am so grateful that Crayfish.io allowed me to join the team during this time of great significance, when companies of all sizes and models have been forced to adapt and readjust to the changing circumstances. This period has also shown that the relationship between China and the U.K. is dynamic, and I found it extremely valuable to see how Crayfish.io reacted to political and social changes whilst ensuring that their online platform is used in a timely and productive manner.
Thank you so much to everyone in the Crayfish team, especially Jiao and Ting, for being so incredibly welcoming and giving me this amazing experience. Although COVID-19 has altered so many aspects of my life thus far, it presented me with the priceless opportunity of working with Crayfish.io, which, in all honesty, has changed my life and paved the way for the start of my professional career by solidifying my interest in China.
As my internship of more than a year comes to end, along with my second year of university, I would like to thank Crayfish.io for providing me with this opportunity. Following my internship, I feel prepared to embark upon my year abroad and future jobs I may have, whether remote or in person.