“I certainly knew going to China, a country I knew basically nothing about, with no language skills and no contacts, was going to be interesting,” Mollie Snyder said about her decision to spend her final co-op in Beijing. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made to date, and a highlight of my experience at Drexel.”
Snyder, a junior communications student, is currently working at LifeStyle Magazine, the leading bilingual Chinese publication focused on hospitality, architecture, design, fashion and travel. The magazine has a distribution list of more than 150,000 names and can be found throughout the country in five-star hotels, golf courses, restaurants and membership-based clubs.
Since starting her co-op in September, Snyder has already moved from an editorial intern to an editor position, where she writes the publication’s six to 10-page hospitality features, covers fashion and design news for print and online stories, and manages the magazine’s social media profile. Some of the articles she’s written include a luxurious holiday gift guide and a piece on this year’s Beijing Design Week.
While building her writing portfolio, Snyder has also learned about the glamorous side of her new home, mingling with A-list Chinese celebrities at high-end charity events, attending and covering several major fashion shows, scoring tickets to movie premieres and experiencing the amazing art and designs located in the city.
“Everyday is an adventure here. There is always something going on in Beijing,” she said. “I truly think Beijing and Shanghai are up-and-coming places for fashion and art.”
That means Snyder has plenty to do at her co-op, where she’s in an office composed of foreigners who write in English and natives who write in Chinese. After writing their pieces, the two linguistic sides come together to translate their work into both languages, since the publication is written in English and Chinese. She credits her co-workers with helping her adjust to the foreign language and life in Beijing.
Additionally, Snyder contributes to one of China’s most well-known fashion blogs, “Stylites,” maintained by the American expat editor-in-chief of Lifestyle Magazine. For that publication, she covered the Shanghai and Beijing fashion weeks and also worked with American retailers on their merchandise in Asian and American stores. And as if that wasn’t enough freelancing, she’s also working on a project with the editor-in-chief to promote The HUB, one of Asia’s biggest fashion trade shows that will take place in Hong Kong this March.
Snyder writes in English but she now can carry out a basic conversation in Chinese, order food and tell a cab driver where to go. She has been taking free private Chinese lessons offered through My China Opportunity (MCO), the same internship program that helped her and other Drexel students find a co-op in China.
As someone who wants to work in the fashion, public relations and magazine industries while traveling and representing a brand globally, Snyder thinks that the opportunities from her co-op will help with her future. She chose Drexel partly because of the University’s international co-op program, and her previous internships were at CBS Philly’s “CBS News” program and at RMO-Wetherly, a fashion public relations agency in New York City.
“Both of these jobs, in a way, prepared me for my arrival at Lifestyle Magazine,” Snyder said. “At CBS I was frequently researching news and keeping up to date on the latest events. When I moved to New York, I got to learn tons about the fashion industry and worked with many magazines on the PR side of things/”
Although Snyder originally thought New York City was huge, it “now seems like a small village next to the 22 million population of massive Beijing.” She’s no stranger to international living arrangements either, having moved to Italy at 16 years old for a year as an exchange student.
She says she chose China because she knew it would be a different experience. The fact that Drexel gives significant financial assistance to students who do a co-op in China or Singapore didn’t hurt either.
Now, she lives with an Australian and an American in a three-bedroom apartment that My Chinese Opportunity found her in a nice area of Beijing. When she isn’t at work, she’s hunting down bargains (she recently scored a $55 pair of white Converse high-top sneakers for $15) and trying $2 full-course Chinese and international cuisine meals. She also teaches English to six-year-old children as part of an after-school program at a public school in Beijing.
Outside of the city, she’s already crossed major tourist highlights off her checklist, like climbing the Great Wall of China and visiting The Forbidden City. She will visit Sanya (an island off southeastern China known as “the Hawaii of China”) in January, and has travel plans for Hong Kong and Shanghai in February.
After all of the work she’s produced from her co-op and freelancing, a little rest and relaxation will surely go a long way.