Pay it forward by mentoring at Bristol University

Bristol has always been good to me. I first came to the city in 1990 to undertake an MPhil in Politics. Since then, I have been lucky enough, among other things, to run two successful digital design and marketing agencies and Chair Bristol Creative Industries; I’ve always felt it’s important to give back to the place that’s given me so much.

One small way I try to pay it forward is mentoring undergraduate students through the University of Bristol’s mentoring scheme. Organised by the University’s Professional Liaison Network, the programme matches students to a mentor who has studied a similar degree and is using it in their job. 

This year, I am paired with an undergraduate from China called Siling Ye. Siling is studying sociology and is in her second year of a three-year course. As her mentor, I try to use my experience and contacts to help guide Siling with any challenge that she brings me. For example, at our most recent meeting, Siling talked about her ambition to secure an internship in the UK this summer. My advice was to exploit her language skills and knowledge of her home country to target British businesses with connections to China. Siling has written a bit of background about herself and what kind of internship she wants to find.

Perhaps you can help Siling?

Hi, I am Siling Ye, a second-year Sociology student studying at the University of Bristol with experience in marketing and social media. I am now seeking a summer internship (2022) to apply and develop these skills and gain a better understanding of business in the UK.

As a native Chinese, I can speak both Mandarin and basic Cantonese, enabling me to cooperate with local Chinese companies and companies from English-speaking countries. Also, having been to many cities from the very South to North of China, I know Chinese culture well. Furthermore, I understand Western and Chinese cultures and the similarities and differences between these two cultural systems.

Here are five interesting facts that you may not know about China:

  1. People are more willing to spend money even on over-valued products during Spring Festival.
  2. Most Chinese people think that drinking cold water is harmful. 
  3. ‘Eating healthily for breakfast, eating more for lunch, eating less for dinner’ is an old saying describing Chinese eating habits. 
  4. You don’t have to bring cash everywhere, even in small towns. Alipay and Wechat Wallet have emerged as the primary payment methods in China. 
  5. Chips are considered junk food and are never a part of a meal in China.

I love to travel. Encountering different cultures and people in other cities is the best thing ever. I have been to over 30 cities in China, and each city has its unique personality, charm, and lifestyle. 

This summer, I would love to work with a UK company interested in the Chinese market. As one of the biggest economies globally, China is developing as a hugely promising market and the next destination to expand for many international companies. I believe that breaking the cultural barrier is the first and most significant step to understanding local customers; I can be a bridge between the UK and China.

Chris Thurling is Chair of Bristol Creative Industries and marketing agency Armadillo. If you are interested in finding out more about Bristol University’s mentoring scheme, you can contact Chris via You can also contact the Unversity of Bristol Professional Liaison Network

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