Students of Yantai vocational college in Shandong province received an unexpected and unwanted "Internship Notice" from the school at the beginning of this semester. Zhang was one of them.
"The school told us to go as interns right after we came back from summer vacation on Aug. 27. Internships have always been voluntary, and there should have been several options. But not this year," said Zhang to an Chinese national radio news channel. "We were asked to sign a intern agreement at school, which is very informal. Then we must go and work as an intern."
Tian, a student from the faculty of mechanics, didn't want to go to Foxconn. His parents called and protested against the mandatory arrangement, but the school insisted.
"It is a 45-day internship on the assembly line, and Foxconn would pay the students a fee," a teacher said. "The payment is the same as an officially employed factory worker. Foxconn could be short of workers because of increasing orders, so it asked the government to motivate schools to get more students to work for them."
In the neighboring Shanxi province, Jincheng municipal government had set up an recruiting office and issued three mandates since Foxconn decided to invest billions of dollars in August.
Recruiting agents jumped on board every bus that stops at the Foxconn's Taiyuan factory and scatter their name cards like snow flakes. They also clamored about the factory perimeter, some with a little homemade cardboard booths, some just squatted along the curbs.
"I could get a 300 yuan (US$47) commission fee if I introduced you to work in Foxconn," said a recruiting agent. "The government is paying I suppose. I will get the first 150 yuan once you started working and anther 150 if you kept the job for over three months."