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Summer 2012 Blog - Ping Wu

Ping Wu is spending twelve weeks in Wuxi (Jiangsu Province), China working for Suntech, a leading solar energy company.


May 25, 2012

Learning about the process of the Solar PV production from quartz
sand to the finished product

Today marks the completion of my first week as an intern working with Suntech’s corporate marketing team at Wuxi. As time continues to progress, I find it easier to adjust to my new surroundings and work environment. The guidance and assistance from Suntech’s marketing team members have made my internship at Suntech an exciting and enjoyable learning experience thus far.

The main focus of my work at Suntech is research and analysis of the solar PV market, which ranges from a regional to global scale. Given that I’m working with the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa region’s marketing team my work primarily focuses on the countries in these regions. The work that I do at Suntech relates to my academic background as this internship experience allows me to enhance my academic knowledge on renewable energy specifically solar energy through completing my

One of the two large solar panels in the headquarters at Wuxi

assignments on the research and analysis of the solar PV market. My work at Suntech allows me to bridge my academic knowledge with the first hand experiences that I've been able to gain through my research and analysis assignments. For example, doing research and analysis on the solar PV market has allowed me to further my understanding of aid institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in the context of renewable energy development particularly in developing countries such as Bangladesh.

I feel limited by the fact that that I do not understand the technical terms used by my fellow marketing team colleagues. Nonetheless, being aware of this challenge early on in this internship is beneficial for setting improvement goals. I’m motivated to step beyond my comfort zone to challenge myself. 


June 8, 2012

It has been three weeks since I have begun my internship at Suntech in Wuxi, China. Over the course of these three weeks, I've learned a lot about Suntech and the solar industry on a global scale. Also, through my work as an intern, I've been able to further my knowledge on renewable energy policies and its role in driving the solar PV market. What I enjoy the most about interning at Suntech thus far is being able to work independently while having access to the appropriate level of guidance when necessary.

In week two, I completed my assignment on the research of Bangladesh’s microfinance market and its relationship to aid institutions such as the Grameen Bank and the Asian Development Bank. I finalized my assignment on Bangladesh with researching for upcoming renewable energy events in the country. Currently, I’m working on a month-long solar investment research and analysis project, a project assigned to both Fanglin (the other intern) and me. Since this project has a later due date, I was able to complete other tasks such as researching partnership programs offered by solar companies. Similarly, in week three, I continued to work on the solar investment project while working on assignments such as producing a model training program in PowerPoint format and collaborating with Fanglin to translate one of Suntech’s internal newsletter from Chinese.  

As far as improving my Mandarin Chinese, my listening comprehension skills appear to have improved; however, I've noticed as I speak more English, I begin to speak broken Mandarin Chinese with English words scattered inbetween. Recognizing this as one of my challenges in improving my Mandarin Chinese, I must make it a goal to practice speaking it as much as I can. I remind myself that I need to go beyond my comfort zone in order to see progress.


June 29, 2012

Today marks the halfway point of my 12-week internship at Suntech. Thus far, my experience interning at Suntech has been rewarding. Over the past six weeks I've been able to learn and grow beyond my comfort zone. Unlike learning in an academic setting where every topic is tested, interning at Suntech fosters a learning environment without the pressure of exams and grades. This type of learning environment is both exciting and enjoyable as it allows me to easily learn selectively.

SJ State Tour

A well-displayed example of my learning experience at Suntech involved Fanglin and I accompanying the vice president of marketing for Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa (APMEA), Holly Wu, on a tour of the company’s factories where cells are produced and modules are assembled. The tour was given in Mandarin and some of the terms used were very technical, so I struggled to comprehend the explanations provided by our tour guides. Even so, I was able to learn a lot about the process of solar cell production and module assembling without the stress of having to reproduce and be graded on it.

While at Suntech, I've watched numerous tutorial videos on solar cell and module production. It was extremely eye-opening to observe the entire production process. This tour allowed me to further enhance my solar energy knowledge. Also, unlike learning from power point slides and videos in the classroom, participating on this tour was a remarkable learning experience! 

As for my Mandarin speaking skills, I’m beginning to notice some improvements in casual conversations. I still need to apply myself, however, in professional settings. Because I'm speaking it so frequently, my Mandarin is progressing; and I've begun to process my thoughts into Mandarini. As long as I continue to practice my Mandarin, I’m certain I'll see the positive results.


July 13, 2012

A whole 8 weeks time has passed since I have began my internship at Suntech. The challenges that I have encountered and lessons that I have learned throughout these past 8 weeks have taught me a lot more than I have expected.

For example, through the process of creating an updated global PV market report, I have come to realize how much I have overestimated my research and time management skills. When Holly, the APMEA marketing team’s vice-president assigned us this project I initially thought it was going to be a piece of cake as this report is similar to a report which Fanglin and I have previously completed.

To my surprise, when what I thought was going to be a week long project turned into a two week long project, I realized how wrong I was about my ability to finish this assignment on time.  My biggest challenge in completing this assignment was in researching for the raw data on the global PV market that resembles the data used in the previous version of the report.

I have learned a few lessons from struggling to finish this project, but my biggest lesson is that I need to better assess my assignments by first analyzing what type of data I’m expected to work with and knowing ahead of time what kind of sources I will have access to.  For future references, I must remind myself that I need to make a better assessment of my assignments and not rush right into it without making a simple game plan.  Most importantly, I will take this lesson and apply it in my academic career.

In regards to my Mandarin speaking skills, I’d like to say that it is has improved quite a bit. Even though I still get a little bit stuck sometimes, I feel that I have been able to better articulate myself orally. I will continue to challenge my Mandarin speaking skills for the remainder of my internship here at Suntech, but I will also challenge myself to improve my listening comprehension as I still struggle to understand those who speak Mandarin with a dialect accent. My weak listening comprehension skills seem to frustrate some people when I ask for direction or hold basic conversations with locals because they have to repeat themselves several times before I can understand what they are saying.


July 27, 2012

Leading the discussion on the Webinar layout design

Over the course of the past two weeks, my presentation skills have been tested twice. The APMEA region’s (Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa) Channel Marketing Manager, Ben assigned Fanglin and I the task of creating a webinar on Suntech’s product quality management for its partners and distributors. I began this assignment by researching the characteristics of a good webinar through watching numerous solar webinars on youtube and reading instructional webinar related articles online. In order to present my findings, I created and gave a power point presentation to Ben and Adam, the APMEA marketing team’s Channel Marketing Specialist. Following the presentation, I had the opportunity to receive a lot of constructive feedback, which were extremely helpful. Keeping in mind the feedback that I received, I created and presented my second powerpoint presentation on the webinar’s framework. Again, I was able to receive helpful comments on my findings and presentation skills.

Looking back on my presentation experiences, I am not quite satisfied with my performance. In order to improve my presentation performance I would particularly like t work on the areas of commanding the knowledge that I will present on, spend more time familiarizing myself the entire powerpoint, and be prepared to answer questions from my audiences. With this in mind, I will push myself a little bit harder and go further beyond my comfort zone. Despite being disappointed in my performance, I am very grateful for the opportunity to give those two presentations and receive such valuable feedback. I really enjoyed this experience because it offered me a type of learning experience that cannot be offered in a classroom.

Beyond establishing the foundation for this webinar project, Fanglin and I conducted interviews with colleagues from different corporate teams at the Suntech headquarters in order to collect data to fill in the webinar framework. In preparation for these interviews, Fanglin and I compiled a list of questions and organized a chart of who to contact. This phase of the webinar provided us a great opportunity to both meet and collaborate with our colleagues at Suntech. With the information gathered, Fanglin and I have begun creating a webinar proposal, which we will present to Ben and Adam next week.

Creating the Webinar layout post my first powerpoint presentation

To wrap things up, I am delighted to share that my Mandarin speaking skills have improved quite dramatically as I have become more comfortable with conversing in Mandarin and ability to express myself more effectively. Also, my progress has been affirmed by some of my colleagues at Suntech. My rate of improvement is largely due to my daily exposure to the language both in and outside of the Suntech office. Presently, I am satisfied with the progress that I have made thus far and will strive to make more improvements in the last two weeks of my internship at Suntech.


August 29, 2012

August 10th was the date of completion for my twelve-week internship at Suntech. It is hard to believe that a matter of twelve-weeks have passed by so quickly. In reflection, this internship experience has been both eye opening and rewarding. Prior to this internship my knowledge about the solar industry was very minimal but my understanding about the solar industry has greatly expanded over the course of these past three months.  Overall, I believe that I was able to learn more from this internship experience than I anticipated.

Throughout the duration of my internship at Suntech, the company’s corporate marketing team provided both Fanglin and I with all the necessary sources in order to strengthen our understanding of the solar industry and learning more about Suntech.  Additionally, while it was Fanglin and mine duty to assist and support the marketing team, we also received assistance and support from the team members as well. This team work ethic fostered an open and enjoyable working as well as learning environment. The level of cooperativeness and communication in a corporate setting was a very new experience for me however; working with different marketing team members who have varying backgrounds provided unique learning opportunities.

From the beginning of this internship, one of my most obvious and biggest challenges was speaking in Mandarin in a professional setting. Although, while I have noticed significant improvements in my ability to articulate myself I still feel that there is still a lot of room for further improvement. I intend to maintain my level of competence by taking advantage of the opportunities to speak Mandarin in the U.S.  and read the Chinese newspapers more often. Ultimately, I strive to attain a level of professional competence in the Mandarin language so that I can pursue a profession that will allow me to apply my Mandarin language skills.

On the whole, I am extremely grateful that both the Cal Energy Corps and Suntech offered me this internship opportunity. Just as I intended to do so, I was able to go beyond my comfort zone and challenge myself. I truly hope that Cal Energy Corps and Suntech will sustain this partnership and continue to offer this internship opportunity to other UC Berkeley students.

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